Sunday, August 31, 2014

Play-Doh in the Classroom!

So this is a super fun activity I've done with 3rd and 4th graders in the past.
I was a little hesitant with my 6th graders, but who doesn't love Play-Doh?!

To start of this lesson, I gave each of my students a canister of Play-Doh.
Not the super tiny ones, but the bigger canisters.

I allowed my students about 3 minutes of free-play time.
I found this works best so they are focused on the lesson.
"I allowed you 3 minutes to play, now it's your turn to listen."

Then I begin reading the script. 
The ultimate goal of this activity is for students to create a pencil holder.
They go through the entire writing process from the perspective of a sculptor. 
The script will talk about how alike sculptors and writers really are.

 Here are some of our finished products :)
We had a contest to see who could create the most creative pencil holder. 
I think it's safe to say we had some pretty good ones :)

My big classroom reveal still won't be for another month or two.
I'm still waiting on bookshelves that the school ordered for me to arrive. 

On to week 4!! Mid-Quarter is almost here!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Socratic Seminars ... BEST EXPERIENCE!

Today I had a tear-jerking experience. 
It was probably THE best experience I have had thus far as a teacher.
If you haven't heard of socratic seminars... you need to check them out!

We've decided to implement socratic seminars once a week.

Check out this video to see one in action.

So one of our big themes this year is "Speak Life"
If you haven't seen the Toby Mac video check it out here.
I absolutely LOVE the song and everything it stands for.
It's actually my new ringtone! :)

So our discussion for our first socratic seminar was "Speak Life"
As kids entered my room 8th period, they were given a paper with a few questions:
"What does speak life mean to you?"
"How do we show speak life in school and outside of school"

Students had about 5 minutes to jot down their thoughts.

Then we went over our Socratic Seminar Norms:
*keep an open mind
*make eye contact with the speaker or when speaking
*raise your hand/take turns
*no names (as a way to ensure no bullying and a safe environment)
*be respectful
(I'm sure there's a few more but my brain is completely fried!)
I was pleasantly surprised with my students by this point.

Then, we went over the grading sheet.
In a socratic seminar there is an inside and an outside circle.
The inside circle discusses while the outside circle assesses their assigned partner.
After time is up, partners meet with each other and discuss what went well or what they can work on.
Then partners switch and the outside circle moves into the inside and the process repeats.

My first group had a FANTASTIC discussion!
I thought I would have had to pull teeth to get them to talk.
They shared their ideas and built off of each other and even went off the recording sheet!
I almost started crying after listening to them.
Then I just about pulled out my phone to record them.

The second group was a little bit of a struggle.
However, they managed to carry on without me.

Below you'll find the handouts our kiddos use::
Teacher Observation Checklist
Student Observation Checklist

And finally... here is a link to other handouts and ideas.

I challenge you to give it a shot this week!
Lemme know how it works for you!!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Long First Week and Some Good Reads

I feel like I have seriously neglected my blog this past week.
My first week teaching 6th grade at a new school literally FLEW by!!
I didn't have time to do anything but survive.
Needless to say... I have lived to see another week of 6th grade.

I'm just about done lesson planning and I feel like I'm actually prepared for this week.
I'll just have to go in early tomorrow and make some copies.
I'm still desperately trying to figure out how to fill (without over-filling) a 45 minute period.
Some days last week I was underplanned... some days overplanned.
I don't adjust well to change so I like when my lesson plans work out perfect....
but as we all know as teachers... that very rarely happens.

Sigh... still waiting on bookshelves that my school ordered for me to arrive.
Until then, I will not be posting a classroom reveal.
And I am DYING to post a reveal. 
I LOVE my classroom this year.
Being put into a classroom with absolutely nothing in it was refreshing.
The past three years I inherited a classroom full of junk.

So, since I can't post a reveal yet, and I had no time for a Monday Made It this week....
I'll post something else.

I've been asked MANY times for a list of my favorite good reads.
Here it is!! 
(Later this week I'll post clothes from my most recent shopping trip!)

Ashley's Favorite Reads
1. Tell the Wolves I'm Home (LOVED this! Totally different than my norm!)
2. I Hunt Killers
3. The Game (the sequel to I Hunt Killers)
4. Delirium trilogy (the ending of the first two made me so mad!!!)
5. Gone series
6. If I Stay
7. The Mortal Instruments
8. Digital Fortress (or anything by Dan Brown)
9. The Testing
10. Maze Runner series
11. Legend series
12. Wonder
13. Ungifted
14. Out of My Mind
15. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
16. The Hunger Games
17. Divergent trilogy

I'm sure there's many, many more I could add... but I just can't come up with them right now!
I'm currently reading Freak the Mighty.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Made It... More Classroom Decor!

Today is my last free Monday.
School starts tomorrow!!!
I will have 6 periods of anywhere from 19-28 brand new, little 6th graders!!!
I just might throw up. lol
Just kidding.
No really....
I am FREAKING out!!!

If you know me at all, you know I am OBSESSED with minions and Despicable Me.
Well, a few weeks ago we went to the county fair and I could not win a unicorn.
I tried and tried and tried. Spent a bunch of money. And lost. Darn carnival games.
Well this little guy arrived yesterday and

I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for today's Monday Made it!

I am so proud of this!!! Today I hung up a banner that says "Sudoku"
Every week I'll put up a new puzzle for students to solve. 
They'll have an entire week to complete and turn in the puzzle.
Students who complete and get it all correct will get one bonus point.
On the counter next to the game I have a container with blank sudoku puzzles.

I made this Truman Award Nominee banner early last week. 
I finally finished decorating the rest of the bulletin board.
Students will "tweet" a book review after they finish one of the ones posted.
We're also going to set class goals on how many books we can read this year.

Finally, I made this with a friend for her classroom. 
She's a 6th grade ELA teacher so we turned my Sudoku board into a Boggle board!!
She'll switch out the letters every week.

And last but not least... I am super excited to announce that my 
Donors Choose project has been fully funded!!!!
It only took just a few short days. 
I am sincerely grateful for everyone that donated!!
Soon I will have brand new books on their way to my classroom!!!

Anyway, wish me luck tomorrow!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Stress, Classroom and Some Donors Choose

I haven't been this stressed out in a long time.
It's not only the fear of a new year... but it's also a new school and a new grade level.
Let's be honest. There's a BIG difference between 4th and 6th graders.

However, with all that stress, I could not be any happier with my new "family".
This new school has offered nothing but kind words and support.

And it feels amazing to be able to do my own thing.
No more complaints about us not all doing the exact same thing, at the exact same time.
Oh the joys of Middle School.

My classroom is getting closer to being ready to go.
Unfortunately, I don't know when the bookshelves my school ordered me will be in.
It's driving me nuts that I can't finish my room until then.

My lesson plans are just about done too.
Again, it is wonderful to have such a supportive team. :)

 As a secondary teacher, I have the opportunity to receive 24 copies of the Truman Award Nominees.
These books are great for kids this age because it's usually something they can relate to.
When finished, the board will have copies of the covers of all the books.
It's also going to be a tweet was where students can leave "tweets" as reviews of the books.
I can't wait to finish everything!! :)

Did I mention that I'm a 6th grade teacher teaching ALL of the subjects?
This is my science wall.
Scientific method and lab team roles all courtesy of The Science Penguin.

This is probably my favorite part of my room right now. 
I LOVE my expectation frames. <3 <3 <3
The baskets will be for each class to turn in work.
I'm also super excited I was able to get a horseshoe table for small groups!! :)

This week has been super long. I've put in about 10 hour days.
This weekend will be full of much needed rest and relaxation!!!

But first...
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check out my first ever Donors Choose project
Visit my Donors Choose Project Page to donate.
I'm really hoping to get more Truman Award Nominee books and the next ones in their series.
Your donation will help my students immensely!! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Made It!

Well.... it's finally here.
Today is the first Monday of the school year.
We still won't have kids until the 12th but since I'm in a new district this year... 
I get the privilege of attending new teacher orientation today and tomorrow.

On a much, much happier note...
Today is Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School 2014 sale!!!
Who wouldn't be excited?!


I'm linking up with Farley for today's 

My friend and I thought we'd give the Crayon Art a shot.
I was originally shooting for something more original with pictures but
I think my canvas was too small. 
So here's what I ended up with.
Cute, huh!?

Yesterday I posted about my classroom expectations project.
Click the picture to check it out and a *freebie* too! :)

Finally, I know I didn't make it... but my blog is looking pretty sweet!!!
The new layout is courtesy of Lindsay at L. Paull Designs
I think she did a FANTASTIC job and I couldn't have asked for a better person to work with! :)
Thanks Lindsay!!
L. Paull Designs for All

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Crafty Classroom Expectations ... *FREEBIE*!

Let me start by saying that I have ZERO experience with spray paint. I've never even picked up a can before in my life.  Needless to say, I've seen all these super cute projects other teachers do on Pinterest, Blogs, and Instagram and I thought to myself, "Hey! That looks easy! I can do that!" 
I guess I needed to remind myself something I always remind my students:: "What's easy for one person isn't necessarily easy for everyone else."

So last night I created my top 10 classroom expectations courtesy of Lessons With Laughter. She created some super cute ones but they didn't match my color scheme and they wouldn't fit in the frames I bought. So I created my own. I love, love, LOVE them!!!! 

You can download them for FREE here(Yes, free!)

I found these super cute frames at Michaels for $3.99. They were 70% off plus I had a 20% off entire purchase coupon. So I bought 11 frames (1 extra) for 96 cents a piece!!! Talk about a great deal!
(photo courtesy of Kinder Craze)

I picked up three cans of spray paint from Walmart.
Rust-Oleum in Seaside
Krylon in Citrus Green (which is not green at all but neon yellow)
Rust-Oleum in Berry Pink

And here is where I had trouble. As I already said, I am not a pro at spray painting. I wouldn't even say I'm a beginner. I'm below a beginner.

So here are my top 4 tips for Spray Painting for Dummies.
1. Stand downwind -- Yes, I did have to learn that one that hard way... and so did my poor iPhone.
2. When the directions say "Shake well before use" you better shake well before use.
3. DO NOT use plastic trash bags to paint on to. Not only does the paint not want to dry on the trash bags, but your project will stick to them and when you think you're finished and everything is dry, you literally have to PRY the final project off of the trash bag (thus leaving behind plastic pieces you can not peel off).
4. Although the spray paint cans say your project will be dry(ish) in 20 minutes, believe me... it's not.

Either way.... it wasn't a complete disaster.
This was before I had to peel them off of the trash bag. 
From a distance they look much better. Up close... you can see every little detail. I wasn't able to peel off the tags easily so I just spray painted over them. At this rate, I might just have to sand down and try again. (I think the tri-colored frame actually came out the best and there's only one coat of paint and it was my tester!!)

With a little Mod Podge... this is the final result!!!

Not sure yet how I'm going to present this or hang them yet but I am SUPER excited and proud of how they turned out regardless!!

What are you tips and tricks for spray painting? This dummy would love to hear them!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Currently

Is it seriously August already?
For real?
I went back to school yesterday!
My summer is officially O.V.E.R. 

If you're stopping by and you're not one of my 10 followers... what in the world are you thinking??
Follow me already!!! Pretty please?!
There's a "Join this Site" button just right over there to the right. --------->
Click it! That's all you have to do!


I'm linking up with Farley for this month's Currently!

Listening: We've become completely engrossed in The Killing on Netflix. Bad part... there's four seasons of finding the killer to ONE murder. Seems to be dragging on.
Loving: I've done a ton of shopping lately. Maurice's, Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21.... oh the possibilities!! Now to just decide on my first back to school outfit!
Thinking: Classroom setup/prep, lesson planning for a new year/grade level, house cleaning, grocery shopping.... ughhh! The list goes on and on!!
Wanting: Summer is officially over. It's so sad. This time I only had 2 months off and they were way, way, WAY too short. :(
Needing: I have a long list of books I wanted to read this summer and although I crossed off a serious amount... I still have a huge stack right next to me just screaming "Read me!!!"

Be on the lookout for my fun project I've been working on!!! Blog post is coming really soon!