Sunday, June 30, 2013

File Folders!

I recently played around with making some new clip art. I usually hand draw all of my clips, but I thought I would take a chance at using some software to make some. I tried making file folders and used glitter (everything is better with glitter!). It didn't take too long once I got my file folders how I wanted them. Making clip art is really fun, and as I make it, all sorts of ideas pop into my head of how to use them.

I was thinking use them as labels for think tank boxes or folders, use them at the start of different flipcharts to categorize which area of science it covers, use them as kids personal file labels, etc.,... all sorts of ideas!

Here they are!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting some work done

The kids are at grandma's for the weekend, the husband is sleeping, and I have time! I am laminating all of my task card sets, new room signs, and anything else that was sitting in my "to laminate" folder.

 There was sooo much. Now I just need to cut them apart, cut the holes, and put them on rings (thanks Teaching with a Mountain View for the great idea). These are my favorite task cards made by The Science Penguin. She is a teacher in Texas who creates amazing things that actually match the TEKS standards since ours don't exactly align with the common core. I have purchased so many of her products from Teachers Pay Teachers. Usually when my earnings from them come in, I turn right around and use it on the things I wanted from The Science Penguin store. If you haven't checked it out, I highly suggest you do. 

Now, what else can I do with all this time? Maybe I will make some new clip art or some more think tanks...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Couldn't help it

Living in the country is nice for so many reasons, but its keeps me far from specialty stores :( I just happened to be in town near a great teacher supply store and thought I could quickly go in and grab some gears for my bulletin board. Ha! Over an hour later, I had spent way more than I needed to, but every isle inspired an idea! Anyone else have that problem? My classroom will be the coolest robot/STEM classroom! Kids won't want to stay away!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Science at the Zoo

We went to the zoo today, and the children's zoo has this really cool nature exchange where kids bring in rocks, plants, and shells they found and exchange them for other items in the store. My sweet daughter, only 3 and so observant, went in with her homemade nature collection box with 6 things: a blade of grass, a yellow flower, a rock, a stick, a green leaf, and a brown leaf a buggy chomped (all her descriptions). These were just things she found on our land. Well, she has to explain to the nature exchange guy where they came from and what she knew about them to get store points to swap for other nature. Her items were not that impressive, but the answers she gave to his questions impressed him enough to give her 200 points, way more than I thought she would get!

She used her points to get 8 rocks and 2 shells that matched so they could go together. What a great idea! She was so into touching everything and choosing the perfect items for her rock collection at home. Her favorite was a rock that looked like a heart. We loved this interactive part of the zoo. She even counted all 10 pieces as she placed them in her bag. I am such a proud momma of my smart little girl and so happy there are places like this that recognize children's curiosity in nature. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Are you on board with Think Tanks?

Our district recently implemented Think Tanks. I had heard that name been tossed around all year, and once I finally found out what it was, I was hooked!

We have a 50 minute block built in to our schedule for small group intervention every day. I sit at a table in my classroom and work with 2-6 kids in a small group on a specific topic we have been working on that they are struggling with. While this is going on, I may have anywhere between 15-24 kids still in my room who need something meaningful to work on for that hour, not just a worksheet or study hall.

Enter Think Tanks!

The students not in small groups will work on a 4 day project that centers around a reading selection (book, article, how to manual, problem, whatever you have or want), asks them to recall information (usually in a graphic organizer), and then they get to create a meaningful product and extend on it, like write a song, then make a music video, or create a story then present it as part of the 6 o'clock newscast. All of it centers around a reading selection that focuses on the standard you want them to focus on. Do you want them to extend on rock formation? Read a book on rock formation, illustrate the process in a sequence graphic organizer, create 3D models of sedimentary rock formation then turn that into an advertisement for different uses of sedimentary rocks! Presto chango - a meaningful project that student can do in small 2-4 people groups INDEPENDENT of the teacher (since you are busy with your own small group).

The think tanks work like so. We have 50 minutes for 5 days.

Day 1: Read and Recall. Students read a book of your choice, one of a variety you have selected for them (leveled, perhaps?), or a section from a book. I have modeled most of my latest ones after books from the Let's Read Science Series. It is at a good level for most of my kids and I find the information factual to what we learn at this level.

They are reading aloud together, or to themselves, based on how many copies you have of each book. Then they each complete the graphic organizer or questions. You can dictate if this should be together or alone.

Day 2-4: Create and Extend. Students now get to create a physical product. It could be a craftivity (oh, Pintrest!), write a story/play/poem/commercial/advertisement/brochure or whatever else it may be. Again, they can produce one per group or each group member make one. It's up to you! Then they take that product and extend on it. This could be another product, it could be a presentation, or it could be something using technology (if you have that available).

Day 5: Evaluate It! We don't have small groups on Fridays, but we still have the time (this is so our reading/ESL/SPED/Math specialists can go through their data). Instead, students present what they learned and created, especially if they were making a music video, newscast, tv show, commercial, technology presentation, etc.,.... They can get rewards for putting as much into it as possible, or they can redo what they did not quite put as much effort as they could have while those who did play games to the side.

I have my Think Tanks in folders these containers for easy organization.

All the materials they need are inside the container, so I needed one that was big enough to put papers, books, and supplies. Since it takes one week to do one think tank, and I can easily divide 15-24 kids into 6 or less groups of 4, I only need 6 every six weeks. The kids can easily rotate them themselves each week. I will have one of the incentive posters on the wall with each think tank on it and the kids names so they can keep track of which ones they do. It is that simple!

Are you using think tanks at your school? How do you like them?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Avatar and a Freebie!

I stayed up waaay too late last night creating resources. I made a new avatar stamp.

 Clip art is still new to me, but I am excited to learn it and try. I ended up drawing so much for my classroom when I couldn't find the clip art I needed that I just ended up creating whole sets for my own use. If I share them, maybe others will enjoy them, too.

Here is an Earth and Moon clip art freebie I made. It is part of a solar system set.

Click here to download it free from my store.

What do you think? I got so excited the other day when I saw my clip art being used in another teacher's resource for the first time. It was such a cool feeling!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teachers have it easy because they have summers off...

The end of the year is here! Now is the time to catch up on sleep, be lazy about the house, and do nothing. Yeah, right! Really, it will be a summer filled with new ideas, creating, creating, creating, collaborating with my new team and my science department, redesigning my classroom, revamping what didn't work last year, making what I want for this upcoming year, and maybe making a pie or two in between.

I loved my experiences from the past year. I got to teach a 5th grade GT (32/35 labeled GT) math class, a 5th grade Dyslexic/SPED/504 (27/29 labeled at risk for one reason or another) math class, the same two groups for 5th grade science, and a random 6th grade science class in between. On top of all those preps, I am science lead for my school, on the discipline committee, on the reward and incentive committee, on the benchmark writing team for the district, the CBA writing team for the district, curriculum update team for the district, planned a science fair (with two amazing science divas!), planned and held Space Night for our school community, got nominated for teacher of the year (second year in a row, and lost both years to AMAZING teachers), and I did not have any children. That last one was a surprise to many! I like being busy, and I like helping anyone who needs it. I have a hard time saying no to others, but it helps me get more accomplished and see what others do to contribute to our students' education that I might not normally get to see. I got to team teach with one of my best friends, and that made every day even better!
Next year, I will get to co-teach with my friend every day, only teach 5th grade science, and still do all the rest. I might even start a girls STEM club after school. . .

It is reassuring to know that I am not alone in the craziness that is called teaching. There are so many teachers out there in the same boat, and I am proud to share the title of teacher with you. Now, who needs a nap?