Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dont' Feel Bad Mom, You Got a C!

I told my daughter about my goal to write 100 blog posts this year and how I felt bad that I didn't push myself harder to do it.  She looked at my blogger dash and said, "Now you know how all of those C kids feel.  You worked hard to just do those 70 something posts but you didn't get the 100 so does that mean that the others were worthless?"

I love my kid.
I am also proud of my now 76 posts for this year!  That is 26 more than I wrote last year or the year before.

Now for a confession:

I don't feel like I'm ready to go back to work!
I went in two days over the break and did some housekeeping stuff, made some copies but I just don't feel ready!  I have really enjoyed this break.

It doesn't help that I have
a) our math coach coming in on Thursday (who never has anything positive to say only negatives)
b) a parent meeting Thursday night to show parents how to do "NEW" math.  I hate that they think there is new math, and I will be telling them that the way they do it is just fine to show their kids.  I will be showing them how to use the bar model for solving ratios and rates word problems.

I guess that is all I have to say for this year!

Happy 2015 everyone!

Friday, December 26, 2014

No More Number Specific GOALS!

I've been really stressing about certain goals I've set for myself lately and have not reached.
1. Blogging 100 posts for this year.
2. Losing the 40 pounds I promised myself I would lose this year.
3. Back squatting 200 pounds.

Most of these are fitness related and this led me to this blog post which I thought was an excellent read:

I am only going to set one goal for this year:  JUST DO IT
Just follow the Weight Watchers program I pay for and I will lose weight.
Just blog! (doesn't matter how many!) Blogging makes me more reflective which is why I want to do it in the first place.
Just lift!  My favorite weight lifting program is the 5-3-1 program by Jim Wendler which if I would just do it, I would hit my 200 pound squat and my 130 bench!

It seems like when I set these number specific goals I freeze up and stop doing what I'm supposed to do.  Two goals I set and was successful with were starting and graduating college when I was 32 years old and competing in bodybuilding competitions.
I didn't set out with the goals of graduating with a certain GPA, (although I did get Summa Cum Laude) and when I competed the goal was always to just be my best.

So as I look to the new year I am excited about starting off with this new goal or mantra in mind.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 18: My Hopes Dreams and Plans for Winter Break

Our Christmas Tree's 27th season!  Still as nice as the day we got it!

This year our last day is this Friday the 19th.  I am super excited to have a full 16 days off!  Last year, I was sick during my entire break and was miserable.  I am feeling a lot healthier this year and knock on wood, plan to stay that way!!

I have a lot of personal and professional plans for the break.
1. Clean out the kitchen junk drawer and hall closet (both out of control!)
2. Get the workout routine reestablished and plan meals for the next month or two!
3. Finish reading Outlander

1. Find activities for my groups
2. Record videos for flipped lessons
3. Reread Guided Math, Math Workshop and Comprehending Math 

I also plan to tutor my son who really struggles in math.  He had a good year last year and started this year off well, but has really flopped the last few weeks.  :(

Join our blogging challenge!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Observation #1

Not much to report, other than my students were perfect angels.  Thank you powers that be.
Lesson went as planned, as I said not much more to say!  YAY!

#MTBoS Blogging Challenge Week 17

28 posts left of my 100 posts in 2014 challenge, and two weeks of school left before our huge 2 week break!  This is the first year we are getting a whole two weeks off and I'm a little nervous.  Nervous about how my kids are going to act as we get closer to the end, especially since they are they get more excited crazy then the older kids?  And are they going to retain what we learn these two weeks?
I'm linking up with Sherrie for the #MTBoS Challenge to blog every week for the rest of the year.  This week we have decided to write about our strategies for keeping students engaged and learning up until the end.
My strategy this year is going to be keep them busy and distracted!  I really just have this week coming up and then probably next Monday- Wednesday.  We have a PD day today (Monday) so this week is going to be about reteaching.  They saw their scores from the benchmark exam and were horrified, so they will have this week to review and relearn so I think they will be pretty engaged in order to get that grade up.
Next week we have the winter concert which the whole school participates in, so there will be lots of practices and then on Friday student council is showing Frozen at 1:30 for the rest of the day!  Wooo hooo!  I was not looking forward to Friday afternoon now I can breathe a little bit!

I am just now returning to this post, its Thursday night!  I'm way behind on my challenge but the reteach week was really cool.  Tomorrow they have their reassessment to see how much they "relearned" lol.  What I thought was cool was that I arranged them in groups by how they did on the standard we assessed. Sometimes I wrote down the names and cringed "Oh my I can't put "THEM" together!" but guess what?  It worked out really good!
I believe I am going to experiment with random groups next week!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

29 to go! Procrastinating...

Goal:  100 Posts in 2014!!
Tons of work to do this weekend so I can't think of a better way to procrastinate than writing a blog post!
Like I said before we got our benchmark results back. I am so conflicted on how I feel about standardized testing.  On one hand I absolutely hate it.  My 5th graders only had 21 days to learn and master computing with decimals and add/subtract/multiply fractions.  I don't know but I think that is too much for 5th graders.  Also, I know that some of my kids know the concepts and are horrible test takers.  My 6th graders did a little bit better and I was really happy with how well they did on the coordinate plane items.
On the other hand, I like having our benchmarks made and graded by an outside company.  They are very good with letting us know what the students will be tested on and they give us lots of resources and a good test bank of questions. Also, we are in a network of schools using the service so I can compare how we do to the other schools.
We have a "Data Day" on Monday where we analyze the results and work as a team at how we are going to reteach and reassess and move our students.    I love that.
Right now I'm trying to figure out which standards should be retaught next week, which in reality since my 5ths scored 40% and my 6ths scored 56% overall, I want to say that EVERYTHING needs reteaching, but then that is cutting into preparing for the next benchmark exams in February.  My plan is to reteach the 3-4 standards that were below 40-50% and then keep spiraling in everything during the interim.
This is why I need to perfect guided math/stations.  And when I say perfect it, I really mean implement it!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

30 to Go! Benchmarks, Stations and Edcamp OH MY!

I'm not sure if I'm going to hit my 100 post goal for 2014, but I am sure going to give it a try!

Today I got the results for our second benchmark exam.  My 6th graders did a smidge better than the first exam and my 5th graders did significantly worse.
My first thought is how depressing, then I started looking at what happened.  To be honest, I had approximately 20.5 teaching days to teach my 5th graders computation with decimals, and operations with fractions (up to multiplication).  Is it me or is that like too much in too little time?
Also these exams were given on the Monday and Tuesday after the Thanksgiving break.  Now, I don't know if this is always the case, but I wouldn't even give a regular test after a weekend, so I have to think this had an affect on their performance.

Stations? Centers?  I know that I need to use this strategy more in my classes.  I am struggling with how to implement and teach procedures when I am so swamped with content (see above!) My students are so needy, I need to teach them to be more independent.
Some of my struggles also include time, only about 45 minutes most days and space, my classroom is so tiny it is almost impossible for kids to walk around without bumping into desks, tripping over books, or just getting in the way.

My principal wants to bring an Edcamp to our school!  She's never even been to one before but keeps hearing me go on and on about how wonderful they are.  She asked if I would help out getting it organized.  Wooo hoooo!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

One More Silly Goal

For the past two years I've created 50 blog posts each year.  As of today I'm at 68! I am going to try to hit 100 by 12/31.  So since that means doubling up some days, I'm going to have to search out some good blog topics.
I get so wishy washy with blogging.  I know that when I do, I am much more reflective in general, (even if my posts are not that reflective) but I get self-conscious about it because I am not a good writer.  Then I think "It doesn't matter! This blog is for me!" So with that I am setting out to reach my silly goal!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#mtboschallenge Week 16: December Goals

I've been trying to jump back into blogging for a while now and finally found the motivation to do it.  I am linking up with Sherrie   who hosts a weekly prompt to hopefully keep us blogging!  This week's prompt was December Goals.

My main goal for December is to get back to flipping my class!
Before Thanksgiving I made a few video lessons and remembered how much I love doing them with the interactive notebooks.  Instead of having students watch the videos at home, I was able to grab 9 iPads so I had half the class watch the video and the other half work with me.

Although it wasn't perfect, it did allow me to see that this is how I NEED to run my classes.  My ultimate goal is to really get students working at their own pace, but I'm soooo not ready to tackle that yet!

So for the rest of the month (all 3 weeks of it wooo hoooo!) I am going to start easing them and me into it and then when we come back in January we should be able to jump right in!

Some of my biggest challenges is getting them to regulate their volume, my room is small and anything above a whisper is loud.  Is it realistic to expect 18 5th and 6th graders to spend the whole period whispering?
Another is figuring out how to keep track of their activities and make sure they are on task at all times and learning.

One of the new resources I'm trying out is I learned about this at EdcampNJ and it looks really promising!  It really has a lot to offer and I'm just learning how to use it, but I really like it.
I am also thinking about having them use I'm not sure if the girls will enjoy it, but I think the boys will from what I've seen so far.

So that is it for now, of course I have my other goal of finally getting back in shape.  So far so good, I'm back at Weight Watchers and sticking to it fairly well.  I've also found a pretty decent workout website that I've been doing each morning, its  and she's got some really good 10 minute and 20 minute workouts that I am enjoying.

If you want to link up with the blogging challenge here is the info!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10/23/14: Packed House at Math Club!

Today was a day of mixed emotions.  My homeroom students are a very challenging bunch.  Today due to certain situations they were even extra hard to deal with.  I felt really bad for them. They take FOREVER at their lockers and have been doing really well, but today they just couldn't get it together before recess./lunch and it took them a full 15 minutes to get done.  I was livid.  I needed to get to study hall to help kids that actually wanted to be there other than the kids that had to attend.  We get ready to line up and I realize that half of them did not bring a book.  It was raining today so they  had indoor recess plus it was picture day so they had to sit quietly in the back of the auditorium and read.  I flipped.  I marched them back into the classroom and had them sit with their heads down.  I brought in the two 6th graders who wanted help and worked with them.  I have to say they did sit quietly while I worked with the two students.  I hope my kids were paying attention to what it looked like when a student really wanted the help got what they needed.  I was happy with the interaction with those students.
However, at lunch right afterwards, the 5th/6th graders had silent lunch due to behavior.  So they really didn't have any outlet or downtime the entire day.  I get it, my kids are lucky that they still get recess since we are a K-8 school, but when they lose that to behavior issues like today, the afternoon is shot.  I had them right after lunch, and only for 30 minutes because of the fact it was picture day.  They were rude and obnoxious and I truly felt sorry for the handful of kids that were not acting that way.
So what am I going to do?  I plan to reveiw my rules and expectations tomorrow... (with all classes since even though they are going well, they are also slipping ever so slightly here and there) Then I will feature a new consequence for my class-Leaving the classroom if they are disruptive.  First will be a warning as usual, then they will be asked to leave (with a phone call home) and then when they come back and still continue, they will be assigned a morning detention.

Ok, but on to happier reflections.  Today was our first official day of Math Club.  We had  24 students join us!!!  My classroom only has seats for 18!!  It was awesome!  Yes, I bribed them with snacks and juice, but if you could see their faces, they were smiling and engaged in the math!  The best part were the kids who don't excel in math and have some of the worst grades totally working on problems that were a grade ahead of where they are at and having fun!  I know I wrote a lot about the bad stuff, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then here are 2,000 words about my great 2014-2015 Math Club!!!

I wish I could post their faces, but the boy in the front of the second picture with his hand up, has had such a rough year so far, he has been bullied by his friends, caused a big share of the problems in my class, but yet here he was smiling ear to ear and having a great time!  I love Math Club! <3

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 31: 1/2 Day PD Day

PARCC training this morning.  Want to know the best part?  Running into my old supervisor and the Director of Secondary Education from my student teaching days!  I had such a positive experience during my student teaching and these ladies were a huge influence on me.
But back to PARCC, I think the biggest takeaways from the training were to really read up on the evidence statements since that is how the test is built and also the fact that we will indeed have the PBA (performance based assessement) and the EOY (end of year) tests.  My director thought that we were only going to have the PBA in March.  The facilitator from the NJ Education department assured us that you can't have one without the other.  It is really ONE test, broken into two parts.

I came back to school in time to see my last class of the day.  My room was a mess and the sub left shaking her head.  I wish my homeroom was more behaved, they are really great kids individually but together they are a mess. I briefly spoke with the school councelor today and she thinks she has some ideas to help us out as long as I'm on board!  Of course I'm on board!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 29: Benchmarks, Mathclub, and 24 Game!

We started our first of 4 benchmarks today.  We are using Achivement Network to create them and analyze the data.  I still have mixed feelings about the whole process.  First of all I like the fact that I am not creating or grading them, and after briefly flipping through the copy I see that I did "teach" everything that is on it.  However, since there were only 5 real teaching weeks and some pretty juicy stuff (ratios, rates, percents etc) for 6th grade I don't feel that they are ready.  Oh well!  We'll see what happens tomorrow!

Since we test all morning and I don't see all my classes, I figured this was a great time to break out the 24 Game and start teaching it to them.  Boy oh boy did they love it!!  One thing I'm really glad about is I am starting them out from the beginning with doing the calculations in their head and also stating the last fact first.  In the past I let them use paper but when it came down to the official challenge rules they really struggled.

Oh and I am super excited to be starting our first math club on Thursday!  I signed up with MathCounts and have my club in a box all ready to go!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 28: Finally Getting Around to a Post

This week was pretty busy.  We are gearing up for our 1st benchmark exam next Wednesday and our progress reports went home on Friday.  It was a week full of making sure everything was covered and everyone was given a chance to do retakes.

I am also feeling a little defeated/obsessed with a parent email conversation that took place this week.  I found out from other teachers that this parent doesn't mean to come across in a bad way, it just happens.  Still, it makes me feel very inadequate and I am not sure what to do about it.

Here is a snipit of what she said to me:

Unfortunately, across the State, students tend to fail Math more than Language Arts, yet there has not been a solution to that problem which can definitely effect SGO results.  In my opinion, making learning fun and using antics that students can relate to such as incorporating music into the lesson or using other devices seem to help ensure that learning takes place.  For instance, using vocabulary words to replace certain rap song lyrics definitely help students in Language Arts, but then again,  this may be more difficult for Math.  Although some students do pass the state test for Math, the majority fail.  Metaphorically speaking, there needs to be "A Dead Poets" technique of teaching Math which is yet to be discovered.

All I can focus on is how I must not be making learning fun and relating to the students.  However, I know that I don't want to use "antics" and tricks.  So not sure what to do.  I just know that I'm not feeling very good about this whole thing, which means  I need to do something.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 22: I Don't Know if I Will Survive 5th Grade

Forgetting things
Can't handle lockers
Acting like 10 year olds (oh yeah, they ARE 10)

I just want to teach math...

Day 21: Composition Notebooks

Not only do I love them for interactive notebooks, but I use mine to keep track of the day to day activities and happenings in my classroom.  The way I organize the info for my 4 different classes is I do a summary at top of what is supposed to happen each day and then I draw four boxes.  Here I can make notes about struggling students, or behavior issues, or any detail from the class that I want to remember :)  I also give my kids behavior points each day towards our schoolwide competition and I record that there too.  Its a little messy but works for me!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Day 20: Parents

As soon as I said I can't blog daily, I became determined to make it work!  One of the hardest parts of blogging everyday is coming up with a title.  I really want this blog to be a brain dump of the day and never know what to call it.  Since I had two interesting interactions with parents today, I decided to go with Parents, but more on that later.

Today in 5th and 6th Grade

Today in 5th grade we are working on division and it seems to be going well, since we started off with dividing by 10s, 100s, and 1000s.  I hate how kids brush things off as so "easy" when there is a lot of good math stuff to talk about.  We continued to talk about place value, but it seems that kids are more interested in "just tell me the TRICK"  when you explain to them that they have to understand first and then maybe discover their own tricks, they become confused.  It like that is what they come to expect.  (learning tricks) 

6th grade is going a whole lot better since I talked to them about persevering with problem solving.  We learned about unit rates today and even though the problems were pretty basic, they seemed much more engaged and the loved the fact that they could relate the unit rate to finding the value of one unit in a ratio.

Quizzes and Tests and Concept Checks Oh my!

This year I decided that I was not going to give any quizzes or tests (besides the 4 interm benchmark exams that we have to give) and that I was going to simply give concept checks.  My reasoning behind this was that once kids hear the words Quiz or Test they freeze up and their mind goes blank.  The concept checks can be taken over and over again until they get it. Isn't that the goal?  To get it?  One problem I'm running into is that since I'm not making such a big deal about their "Big Test" or quiz, I'm kind of forgetting to prepare them for it, meaning I'm not giving them notice to study.  My idea has been, if I teach it you need to know it, so you better study it!  I have to work harder on making sure students know when the first concept check for a topic or topics will be so they can prepare.  


So I have a really sweet 6th grader and I can tell she struggles a bit (hasn't really passed my concept checks yet, see above) but she isn't clueless, needs a little help getting organized and tightening things up.  Her mom is totally on her, which I think is a good thing.  She made her come to me after school for extra help but the cool thing is she showed but about 10 minutes later and stayed with us while we worked the problems!  She never saw the bar model before so she stayed an learned with us and it was awesome!  I wish more parents were like that.

Next up is one of my homeroom kid's parents.  My homeroom unfortunately has a problem with following directions in all of their classes.  I've already had two kids serve detention and two kids get suspended.  Yeah, they are already labeled the "bad class" and it breaks my heart.  They are really good kids who make bad choices.  So anyway, I'm narrowing down on the real problems of the class and one is a girl who had a bad reputation coming to me.  I tried so hard to give her a fresh start and not to listen to her teachers from last year who told me that she was trouble.  Well, she is living up to their expectations.  So I called home not knowing what to expect other than that this mom was probably called a lot last year to talk about how bad her kid was.  I started off by telling her that I wanted to talk about some behaviors I was observing and ask for her help.  I said that I've tried talking to the girl privately, using positive reinforcement, praising her everytime I caught her doing good and it was not working.  I was so worried how the mom would react but she was really supportive and receptive!  I'm not sure if its going to make a difference in the girls behavior, but I at least feel like it was a good step.  I always hate to contact parents without something good to say (although I told her I thought her daughter was a really great kid...which I do! She just makes bad choices) so it was nice to have a positive interaction.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Day 19: No Pictures But Still Heading in the Right Direction

In 5th grade we had a great conversation about exponents and powers of 10.  Some students have older siblings who introduced the concept to them but most had never heard of them before.  It really helped them connect the idea of place value and that the digit to the left is 10 x the digit to the right.

In 6th grade we tackled word problems involving fraction and decimal division/multiplication.  We did this similar to the ratio word problems and it had almost better results!  Since we use Math in Focus, the problems almost require using the bar model.  Some you don't need it but others it just makes the problem so much easier at their level.

For example this fun problem:  Mike had a large tropical fish collection.  He gives 2/3 of his fish to a local high school.  Then he gives 2/5 of the remaining fish to an elementary school.  In the end, he has 30 fish left.  How many fish did Mike have at first.

Three of my 5 groups got it using the beautiful bar model!  Best of all,the rest saw how much easier the bar model made it look.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Day 18: A Taste of What I Want Everyday to Be

October Goals

Ok, linking up with Sherrie for Week 7 of the MTBoS blogging challenge.  Trying to blog every day isn't really working so I plan to at least commit to this challenge!
This weeks challenge is to blog about your goals for October.  This couldn't have been a better topic for me!  
My official goals this month are: 
  1. Bring more struggle and frustration to my classroom! 
  2. Take more pictures of students' work.

Friday in 6th grade was pretty darn cool.  We had worked on solving problems with ratios on Thursday and I showed them how to use a bar model to solve them.  They came in Friday groaning about how hard the homework was.  So I told them we would go over the problems but they would have to do all of the work and that I wasn't going to show them the answers.  It was perfect.  They struggled and argued and proved their points and in the end found the answers they were looking for.  
Just some shots of their work, I want to take more pictures in class!

It was very uncomfortable for them and I told them that that was how I expected class to be every day.  They need that struggle and be frustrated but also have the determination to figure it out and finish in order to learn.  I think they understood that.  Thats why my main goal for October is to make more days like this.  
I have some ideas, but what always gets in my way is the time factor.  I only have at most 50 minutes with 6th grade (except for Friday which is their double block) so I'm still working on ways to do this.  I told them that solving these types of math problems might take a few days and not to feel bad if they don't figure them out in one class period.  It is a big change for them and I will really have to work hard at keeping them from getting discouraged.  

get the InLinkz code

Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 14 and 15 and 16 and 17

Just can't get a blog done each day.  Since today (Day 18) hasn't officially started, I'll save that for later.  I think a weekly reflection (aka the MTBOS blogging challenge) might be a better goal for me.

Things have been very interesting these first few weeks.  Like I've been saying 5th grade is so much different than what I've been used to.  Also, my homeroom is full of the "high-needs" kids which I think is also wearing me out.  I had two boys suspeneded yesterday for fighting in my classroom before lunch. Ugh.  Not a out and out brawl, but one boy bumped into the other by accident and then hands started flying.  Luckily all I had to do was yell "STOP!" and they both looked like they were going to cry.
Last night I had over 10 inches of my hair cut off, and I'm thinking of going in today and telling them I am Mrs. Nehila's mean evil twin sister and then acting the part.  We'll see.  Not a great actor so I don't know if I can pull it off.

Lots of good and bad stuff going on with the math so far.  I need to blog more about that and especially about the bad stuff.

One thing I'm having massive trouble with is getting my 6th grade lessons in with only a 45 minute class.   I do get a double block with them on Fridays, but I feel like I am just playing catch up.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Day13: I Am Confused-Can you help?

So this post is not really about my classes, but it is about math education.  My sister called me yesterday to see if I could help with my niece's math homework (3rd grade.)  She is learning the associative and commutative properties of addition. She had this worksheet to do, which I actually just now found here:
These are the problems she wasn't sure about.  Now before I saw the whole worksheet, I just asked her to tell me what the examples said and she read the examples from the boxes on the first page.  I asked her to tell me what she noticed about the numbers in the example problems and she said the numbers were the same, they just either changed order or the position of the parentheses were changed.  So I asked her how that could help her figure these problems out and she got it.

Before my sister called me, she asked one of her friends.  Her friend actually got really angry and upset about the problems and sent my sister the following comments in an email. 

"This, problem, and the other, s problem, are patterns not math.
 This stupid, t and the other stupid, t are patterns not math."

So my smarty pants sister replied "well aren't patterns math?" (Yay sissy!)

And she got this reply:
"If they are, they still aren't *that* math.  I ran the problem by *** this morning to see whether she had been brainwashed at school, and she found that s=5, t=0, and u=16.  Would a teacher say she's wrong? 

That problem encourages our children to use flawed logic and leads them to believe that the answer they come across most easily (using a prescribed method) is the only answer.  That's bad enough, but they're being encouraged to think that way in other subjects, too.  Now imagine that type of thinking applied to religion, politics and interpersonal relationships.  

These are well educated, very nice people. I am suprised by their anger and response. What do you think?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Day 11 and 12: Back to School Night and the Morning After

I don't know if I can keep up the daily blogging.  I love the idea of having a record of every day at school so I really need to stick with it.  I really need to start remembering to take some pictures at school because I feel like if I don't feel like writing I can post a picture, sometimes pictures tell the best story of what happened that day!

We had our back to school night last night and I think it went pretty well.  I met my new families and got to catch up with some who I had older siblings in prior years.  Another reason I love my school is that since we are so small we do get to know everyone pretty well and I think my families are pretty great!

This morning was tough getting up and going in after leaving last night around 8pm!  All of the teachers seemed to be dragging today and I know I chugged down about 5 cups of coffee!

Today was a mix of good and bad with my homeroom.  I seemed to have gotten the group of kids who know how to push each others buttons.  I must say they have the potential of really growing up and out of it and I am excited to see that happen over the course of this year.  They had a rough day yesterday with following directions and tattleing, etc. and I came down on them pretty hard.  They really take losing their recess seriously unlike 7/8 who would just roll their eyes and say "whaterver" if I threatened recess detention.  So they pulled it together most of the day and actually got two compliments from other teachers which  made me proud.  Then we had some problems with missing money and items from someones pencil case.  Followed by some more tattleing and tears.  Its going to a long year!

I am working with the 7/8 math teacher on a model of direct instruction that is really working well for us so far!  I will share in a few days after we work on it some more.  Its really exciting how the kids respond and it makes teaching the procedural stuff fun!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Day 9 and 10 Ups and Downs

Daily blogging is no joke!  Yesterday I was just so mentally drained I fell asleep with the blogger window open!  Plus this morning I overslept, 1st time in 5 years that I missed my alarm!! Luckily I did have enough time to dress and run out of the house and get to school on time. Thank goodness my children are self sufficient now and I don't have to get them ready for school anymore!

So about the title, ups and downs.  Yesterday in 5th grade I had a major flop of a lesson. Ok, here is the gist, I tried following the textbook, (mistake) and the lesson was on front-end estimation with adjustment.  This isn't even really a standard that I need to teach, just for the mathematical practices.  The students were ok with addition, but when we hit subtraction all I could tell them was do it this way because I said so!  I couldn't for the life of me explain it without saying, this is the way you do it, so do it!  Does that make sense?  The textbook, which for the most part, I really love even said "Make a poster showing the two ways to use front-end estimation with adjustment for subtraction so that students remember."  Not how to explain why it works, just have them memorize!  UGH!

Here are the examples I used to teach them, which come straight from the book.

I really felt like a failure of a teacher with this lesson!  Today when I checked thier homework however, 90% of them had it done correctly thanks to the little "reminder" on the page showing them exactly what to do.  Those that still didn't get it, I told them as long as they can estimate the difference by rounding the whole number they would be fine.  My problem with the textbook is that if you want front end estimation with adjustment to get an answer closer to the exact amount, why round the "leftovers" to the nearest thousand?  For example, why not in the first problem estimate 800-200 and then add 600 to the 2,000?   Also, I still can't explain properly why we add the difference of the remainding numbers in the first problem and subtract them in the second.

Today was much better, I was able to effectivly use my second block for practice, remediation and enrichment like I intend to.  I'm still not 100% comfortable with the whole stations thing.  I have to just have differentiated assignments for them, so sometimes kids at the same table are doing all different things. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 8: Trying to Nix the Tricks!

Today my sixers learned fraction division.  I am embarrassed/but happy to say this is the first year I taught it without the Keep Change Flip!
First we modeled it by drawing rectangles on graph paper, then we moved onto the actual procedure.  I showed them the division problem set up as a complex fraction.  Then we played around with writing equivalent fractions.  So far so good!
Next I asked them what was the easiest number to divide by and a lot of them said 2 but a few said 1.  So I threw out some problems like 1,784 divided by 2, 85,954 divided by 2, etc  then the same numbers by 1, they quickly agreed that 1 was much easier!  So I asked them to look in their notebook vocabulary section to see if they could figure out how we could make the denominator equal 1.  They flipped to the vocab section checked the definitions and all agreed the reciprocal is what they needed!  So we wrote an equivalent fraction using reciprocal of the denominator.  Once they had their answer I drew a box around the numerator in the problem.  It was pretty clear to see the procedure and they seemed convinced!  One student had heard keep change flip before and I kept saying "Yes! That's right, multiply by the reciprocal!
We practiced for a while and I really liked what I was seeing!  I am going to give an entrance ticket on Monday to make sure they remembered it.

We also got our IXL accounts ready today, some students already have gone on and started practicing which I love to see!

Oh I almost forgot something I tried with my homeroom, at the end of the day I handed out an index card to each student and told them to write down the name of the person they though should be nominated for Citizen of the Week.  They all voted and the nice thing is that they picked the person I would have picked as well!  In addition to picking my student of the week, I am also looking for the kids that don't get any votes.  There are some kids who have been reprimanded already this year and sent to guidance and they vice principal so they were obviously not voted for, I'm looking for the ones who are getting missed. There were definetly two names I was surprised I did not see.  I will make sure to observe how these kids behave next week.  Are they my sneaky ones I have to watch out for?  Or are they being shunned by their class?  Not sure yet, but I will be doing this every Friday.  The nice thing is our school does a lot of awards and this will definitely help me choose.  I've always had such a hard time with that!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 7: Finding my Groove and Exit Tickets

Ok, I think I'm getting the hang of this!  I had a nice little revelation as I'm getting to know my students better and that is that while I have to come in with a totally new mindset on how to treat and teach 5th graders, my 6th grade students are similar to my 7th and 8th, just not as apathetic!  Wooo Hoooo!

I feel like I am doing a lot of informal assessing in class but I'm not getting the exit tickets in and that is bothering me. I need to try and use them and start my circle trackers back up.
I can see in my class who is getting it but I have no data to back it up.

Well of to my son's back to school night to meet his teachers!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 6 and a Present in the Mail!!!

Yay!  So a week or so ago I found out I won a raffle from reading one of my favorite blogs!
Look at all these goodies!!  One of things I love the most are the check mark correcting stickers!  In addition to Great Job! and Way to Go! there is Nice Work!, Try Again, Much Better and Good Try!  Love those messages for the kids work!

Today went much better, even though I only got through half of the lesson I planned for 6th grade and in one of my 6th grade classes we were so involved and working hard we went 5 minutes over class time and didn't even realize it!  Yikes!

Split my 5th grade double block up and did stations for the 2nd half, but oh boy do they need to practice procedures!  Its hard to try implementing stuff like this once we've gotten into the curriculum but I know we'll never get anywhere if I don't!

Tomorrow I have the other 5th grade class for a double so we'll try it again.  I am also toying with the idea of flipping my class a little bit again.  By flipping I mean having them complete the notes portion of the class on the foldable.  Seems like I have 1 kid in two classes who don't have internet at home, I have to see how early they get to school then I can pull them in the mornings to complete the assignment.

In other news, 5th grade drama is starting to surface.  I knew that my incoming 5ths had some drama last year in 4th and they definitely split up  some bad combinations, but it looks like its starting again already.  I had 4 student out in the hall at the end of the day and I got 4 different stories. Most of it was he tripped me, she called me mean names, tattling stuff.  However one girl said that one of the boys said she was ugly because she was black and I need to get to the bottom of that.  Tried calling the school councelors but they didn't answer so hopefuly they will be able to speak to them tomorrow.  I am also going to do a "Tattleing lesson" of some sort during our 30 minute skills block at the end of the day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 5: Pacing and Timing

I guess its too early to tell, but I feel like I'm not going to get the things I need done, done in time.  My students need a lot of guidance this year, lots of reminders and very, very explicit instructions.  I think I'm learning though.  I was planning on using the double blocks I have with students to do double lessons, and then have days where we just spend the whole time practicing skills, but I'm thinking I will make the 2nd block a practice block instead.  I have 2 double blocks a week with 5th and only once a week with 6.
So for tomorrow with 5th, I will do one lesson in the first half and then the second half will be all about stations!  I'm actually excited about the stations I have been gathering tons of resources and our school bought a subscription for IXL which I'm excited to try out.
So for 5th grade tomorrow we will have a min lesson on place value where they will complete this foldable (idea taken from somewhere on the internet but I have no idea where sorry!)

Then I will give them some practice problems to try using whiteboards for quick assessment.  Then they will practice some problems from the book. 
The next block I will use the following stations:
Reteach or extra help with me
Extra Math
Problem Solving

Tomorrow I will report on how it all goes!  I guess my daily reflection should reflect on what happened that day and not just planning for the next!  Although I guess the plans I just made are based on the reflection of today LOL!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 4: Building Routines

Although I have said before how difficult the grade level change seems to be, there are at least a few teaching skills that transfer from grade to grade.
One of those things is the importance of creating good habits and setting good routines.  So far I absolutely love my do now routine which is practicing basic skills around the number of the day.  The number of the day has been the month and day, so for example, today's number was 98.
Each day students have three different boxes with tasks they have to complete. Today it was to write in expanded form, round to the nearest ten, double it, and then check the divisibility of the number by the numbers 2 to 10.  I know I'm going to have to tweak it for 6th grade, way too easy.  We are doing factors and multiples this week, so I'm sure going to add that on there!
Although we are only really two days into it, I am super excited about my INBs!! Not only am I excited to use them in class, but it makes lesson planning really easy too!  I just build my notebook pages and that is how I write my lesson plan.
Today students put in their Unit 1 Table of Contents and their vocabulary pages.  On the right side page I'm having them put a KWC organizer.
Awesome Unit Table of Contents page from Sarah at
For their vocabulary pages they write the definition under the tab.  5th grade actually had 3 sheets of vocab words, so on the second page of the second set they will pick one of the words and draw an illustration to represent it.  I can't wait to see their pictures tomorrow!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reflecting on the First Week

This is my 5th year teaching and it feels like the first!
Meeting my new 5th and 6th graders has been so much fun!  I've known most of these kiddos since they were in Kindergarten and 1st Grade!  Still its hard to get names right.  One of the advantages of teaching two grade levels is I usually knew all of my 8th graders very well and had to only get to know my new 7ths.  So this year is a little bit of a challenge, I could tell I was getting better by Friday, and yesterday we had our back to school BBQ and could remember their names and even which class period they were in!  Oh and a bunch of my students from last year came to visit too!  I really loved that group of kids and I hope that they stay in touch.

I spent the first three days teaching routines and procedures of course and used games and iPads and started my INBs! While I tried to make this fun (its hard to tell because they are all so happy and eager to please, unlike 7th and 8th where they just stare at you most of the time LOL) I did stress that I'm very serious about learning, classroom community, and being able to feel comfortable making mistakes.  I've heard that last year some of the 4th grade girls were a little mean and did laugh at kids when they made mistakes.  I was sure to look those girls right in the eyes when I was explaining my thoughts on it and they did look wide-eyed like "Oh bleep, I better watch it!"

They really responded well to my "Class/Yes" procedure which 7/8 also did well with, but I think it fits better with the younger crowd anyway.  I'm using the scoreboard game with them in conjunction with our school's Battle of the Homerooms.  So the way Class/Yes works is when I say "Class", they say "yes" and they have to say it however I say it.  I have to try to remember to mix it up a little, I tend to get boring the way I say it.  The scoreboard is a chart I put on the front whiteboard and if they do the class/yes procedure correctly -everyone says it, stops what they are doing and does not talk after, they get a tally mark under the column with a smiley face.  If they don't do it correctly they get a tally mark under the frowny face.  Their goal is to get more smileys than frownys.  If they do, I give them 100 points for the day.  7th/8th could care less about the Battle of the Homerooms (well until the day the winner was announced each month) but 5th/6th still take it very seriously!
Every class won last week, but starting this week I'm going to kick it up a notch and add tallys for expected behavior.

I also introduced them on Thursday to our Number of the Day do now.  I can already tell it is going to be a big help in my classes.  Right now I have both 5th and 6th doing the same sheets, but I think I will be changing it up in the next week or so  to really focus on which skills they need the most practice on.  I think 5th is going to need some multiplication and they are both going to need fraction stuff.

I am looking forward to this first real week of math to get started!

If you would like to link up and share your first week or first day reflections  click HERE to go to Sherrie's blog and join us!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 3-The Great Locker Struggle

What a week!  5th and 6th grade is such a different experience.  So far I'm really happy and optimistic about the school year.  The only trouble I'm having right now is getting my little 5ths used to their lockers!

I have about 12 combinations memorized right now from doing them the whole week.  Then they take FOREVER getting their stuff and forgetting things after they've finished.
I know its only the first week and I have to be patient with them, but this is killing me!  They took 18 minutes out of my math class on Thursday, it was a nightmare.
Today we got out of school 15 minutes late because they couldn't get it together.  I know one problem that I have that the other 5th grade homeroom teacher doesn't have is that my lockers are stacked in three's and hers are in twos.  This means only 6 of mine can go at a time and 9 of hers can go.

I've got my timer set and they are only allowed 2 minutes, which should be 6 minutes for my whole class. I'm really hoping they get faster with practice!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 2: Is it Friday yet?

Holy hell this has been the most exhausting start of the school year in a long time!  So many ups and downs!  I am saving these ups and downs for my Sunday 3-2-1 summary, but I also feel committed to blogging every single day this year!!

Today I was able to do the Marshmallow Challenge with one of my classes.  It was AWESOME!!!

I'm still trying to get used to the idea of taking pictures during class.  I had two groups succeed in keeping the marshmallow in the air and they did a great job explaining their process.  Can't wait to see how the 6th graders do tomorrow!

Made it Through Day 1!

Whew what a day!!!  I survived 5th grade and 6th grade!!  My students are great and I am excited about the school year.  The day went way too fast and the only thing that I was disappointed in was that I didn't get to the Marshmallow Challenge with my homeroom.  I planned on doing it with each class when they had their double block, but since my homeroom was first period, a lot of the time got eaten by back to school morning announcements, and learning how to do our lockers!!  This is going to be a big challenge for me and my kids.  This is their first time with lockers and switching classes.  I have never taught kids younger than 7th grade so it an adjustment for all of us.

Marshmallow Challenge fail
The biggest hit of the day was the Kahoot! quiz they played with the iPads.  I made a quick "Getting to know Mrs. Nehila quiz" and they loved it.  I tried to make everything we did into routine or procedure practice.So I was able to introduce them to the way we pick group names (color/food)  How to work as a team, how to use the iPads, how to play Kahoot! all while getting to know me and the classroom.  I planned way too much which was good and the day went fast.  I am hoping to get all the procedures and routines done this week and start math on Monday, but we'll see.
Two other interesting things we did were the do now and exit ticket.  
For the do now, I had them write on a sticky note thier definition of a fair teacher and place it on the chart paper.  At the end of the day I took all of the sticky notes and summarized them into a wordle.  It was really cool to see the results: 

I love it, this idea I got from Charity Stephens' blog and can't wait to share it with my students!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekly Summary 8/31/14

This is it! Students come back on Wednesday!  Lots of thoughts and feelings happening right now.  Lets see if I can make a 3-2-1 summary of it.  If you would like to join in on the challenge, click here.

3 things I found out this week that have me worried:
1. Got a call from my father-in-law this week and my mother-in-law is not doing too well.  They found "stuff" on her lungs and pancreas, but since it is the holiday weekend they won't be able to do anything until Tuesday.  My fil had to take her to the hospital yesterday because she was in a lot of pain and turned yellow.  The thing that is the hardest for me and my husband is that they are in Kentucky while we are in New Jersey.  I really want to be there right now to support them in person and it really has me upset.

2. My school has partnered with Achievement Network Inc, to do our benchmarks and coaching.  While I'm optimistic that this is going to be a good thing and help our school out, I am worried because I'm not sure how the pacing is going to work.  First of all, it is totally different from our pacing last year and our textbook.  I have plenty of experience not following a textbook and that doesn't bother me too much, its just that this textbook series that we adopted last year seemed to be laid out pretty well and the topic flowed nicely.  Also it seems like a lot to fit in before the exams.  I'm sure it will be ok, just has me worried since its new.

3. All of the teachers in my school are going to be required to co-teach some classes this year.  I am actually super excited about this since I am going to get to co-teach in two of the eighth grade classes 3 times a week.  These are my last year 7th graders so I'm happy I'll get to continue a little bit with them.  I am worried about the logistics of co-teaching with the other teacher.  We get along fine, but I think we have very different styles.  I guess it could be worse since I'm only going into his classes and he is not co-teaching in mine.  He is absent a lot and does need a lot of "bathroom breaks" so I guess my biggest worry is that I'll be responsible for teaching the majority of these classes in addition to my own.

2 things I am enjoying this week:
1. I found a case with some old CD's in them and I have been really, really, really enjoying listening to them.  I almost forgot how happy I am when listening to the band Rush.

2. Here is another one that could go up in the 3 things that happened that have me worried this week, but I'll focus on the positive side of it.  My baby girl got her DRIVER'S LICENCE!!!  I am a nervous wreck everytime she leaves the house, but on another note I've noticed our relationship is changing  and its actually pretty nice.  She has always been a very good child and never given us any trouble (other than getting C's in math which burns me up!!)  I can't really describe how this is changing but we spent the whole day together and it was really noticable.  She is becoming a grown up and although I am sad she is not my baby anymore, I am proud of the woman she is becoming.

1 thing I am looking forward to this week:
Meeting my new classes!!  I always go into the first day knowing my 8th graders since I had them as 7th graders, so this year I am getting four new groups of kids to get to know.  I am excited since I have watched most of them grow from 1st graders and 2nd graders at my school!  Its going to be a great year and I can't wait for it to start!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Biggest Teaching Accomplishment So Far

Today was an amazing day.  We've been back at school since Monday with the usual PD and classroom set up.  We spent the morning learning about our new partnership with Achivement Network, which seems pretty cool and scary at the same time and then after lunch we went to an offsite PD.  It turned out to be one of those indoor trampoline places.

Let me just say that it was a blast!  We had so much fun and acted like kids for the whole two hours we were there.  The first thing we did was the open jump.  I learned how to do a jump and turn off the wall, mastered the butt bounce and the knee bounce!  After the open jump we played a game of dodgeball.  I didn't want to play and was going to stay in the open jump for awhile but decided to go ahead and play.  I had no clue what I was doing but I ended up being the last man standing and won the game for our team!
After some more open jump, we went over to the foam pit.  This is where two really cool things happened.
First thing was only cool in the after thought.  We were having a race, split into two groups and one person from each team jumped down the strip into the foam pit and had to go all the way across and get out.  I am not a person who curses but when I got out I had to exclaim it was f****** hard!  Anyway, one of our teachers who is kind of an outcast at our school got stuck trying to get out.  I could see that he was struggling so I immediately ran over to help.  Turns out he had asthma and was really having a bad time.  The nice thing though was that he really appreciated the help and I felt glad that I didn't even think about it while others just stood around and almost didn't care.
The next thing was when one of the 4th grader teachers was getting ready to go.  I told her how when I was in there I noticed that the natrual instinct is to try and push your upper body up, but what you really have to do is focus on getting you knees up and let them propel you forward.  I must have explained it like 10 times before she got to go, but when she did it was like watching perfection! She totally did exactly what I told her to do and just glided across the foam blocks.  It was AWESOME!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekly Summary 8/24/14

I'm participating in the #MTBoSChallenge to blog at least once a week for the rest of the year.  Today I am choosing the weekly summary prompt that you can read about at Teaching Statistics.

3 Things That Happened This Week

  1. Finished decorating my room!  What a relief that is, I'm not really the most crafty person and I usually have the suckiest bulletin boards, but this year with the help of Pinterest I feel a little better about it.
  2. Sat in on a bunch of interviews.  We are hiring a 7th Grade ELA teacher, World Language teacher, ELL teacher, Sped teacher and a multi-pupose aid!   Met some really good candidates so demos next week. Just wish we weren't cutting it so close, feel bad for our new hires. They all seemed really positive and up for the challenge though!
  3. Learned that we are going to start using Achievement Network Inc. for our benchmark assessments.  I am pretty excited about this and nervous at the same time.  In the past the whole process of creating and grading the benchmarks has been very stressful and time consuming.  If this service works the way its described we can spend more time on actually analyzing the data and using it to reteach.  There is also coaching involved. One of our pd's this week will be on it so I will learn more then.
2 Things I'm Nervous About This Year
  1. The big grade level change.  But more specifically the test scores.  I've improved my test scores every year that I've been teaching, but the are still pretty bad.  (Went from 34% to 67% over the last 4 years.)  While the 5/6 scores were 80% this year!  Exciting for our school, but now I have to make sure they don't drop!
  2. I want this to be the year I finally get back on track with my diet and workouts.  I say it every single year and I can't get it together.  So I'm nervous as I sit here facing the school year with the thought of adding another 10-15 pounds to my already overweight body, which has been the trend for the past four years. Scared to death is more like it.  I'm already seeing some of the effects of aging and I know that being overweight makes it worse.  Time to take my health seriously!
1 Thing I'm Looking Forward To:
  1. Mani/Pedi and haircut today!!!  I never splurge on myself, so since I earned some extra cash at the bodybuilding show yesterday I am treating myself to a spa day!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Room is Ready!!!

I have been working on my room since last Wednesday.  I am really excited about my room this year.  I'm not really a fan of themes, but this year I adopted a superhero, patriotic theme and I'm really digging it.  I think in the end your room has to be comfortable for YOU since you are the one that spends so much time in it every day!

So here it is the final product!  (almost, one tiny thing to do first)
above my IWB obviously, excited to add the place value chart for my fifths!
This board is for my "Fantastic Fifths" (homework, objective, essential quesiton)
"Super Sixth" side.  This is where my laptop goes to hook up to my IWB, and where my Elmo lives!
My comic theme clock background from Pinterest...was it a fail?  Can't decide.
Divisibility rules!  New desks sooooo happy about that! Shelf for manipulatives, INB stuff and student folders.
Board idea stolen from the fabulous "Sarahs" at and
Here's my desk and tiny to-do, have to staple my board!  This is the most organized my desk will look all year!!!
Wooo Hooo!  Love this so much more than my SWAG poster from last year!!  Below is my calendar, wish I got a full wall shot!
Another Pinterest idea.  This is literally my word wall, the vocab words will extend off of the bulletin board.  I should probably just get rid of it next year.  
This I think still needs more work, but I'm not sure yet what to do!
All in all I am really happy with it.  Next week we have four full days of PD, with a little bit of time here and there so I can do a little bit.
On a side note, these past two days were spent mostly interviewing.  One of the cool things about working at a charter school is that the teachers are so involved with everything.  This year we are filling an ESL, 7th grade ELA and World Language position.  So far so good, next week will be demo's and they are always fun!

A peek into our classrooms was the topic for this weeks #MTBoS Blogging Challenge!  If you would like to share yours click here!  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

3-2-1 Sunday Summary 8/17/14

3 Things to I Need to Do:

  • Finish my room-I covered my boards with black paper since we didn't have much in stock and I thought it would make the colors pop, but I'm not loving it.  I hope that when I go in tomorrow it feels better.    
  • Work on my reflections for the Math is Personal smooc I am participating in.
  • Work on lessons-would love to get the first unit for 5th and 6th done.  This includes finding good juicy problems to work on each day and creating the centers!

2 Things I Am Looking Forward to:

  • Lunch with my college buddy!
  • Finishing my room!

1 Thing I  Am Struggling With:

  • Not knowing my schedule or even how many minutes I have for each class.  It is so hard to plan without knowing this!  We probably won't have anything solidified until the following week.

Do you have a Sunday Summary to share?  Please head over to Sherri's blog and link up your blog post since I don't have a clue about how to put the link in my blog!!!  Don't forget to also share your post on twitter using #MTBoSChallenge.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

1st 5 Days 2014-215

Must once again send a big thanks and shout out to the wonderful teachers of the #MTBoS who decided to continue our blogging challenge and especially for this prompt! If you would like to join in on the fun take a look here for all of the details!

I have been pinning and saving all kinds of activities and ideas to Evernote , but I think its time to really pull it all together and make a plan.  I've got the first day pretty much nailed down but the rest is going to be more like an outline.

Day 1
I usually start the year really knowing all of my students except for the few kids that transfer in over the summer.  This year is a whole new group of students that I will probably recognize and know a handful, but for the most part they are going to be very new to me and of course won't know me as well as the 7/8s would.  So my goals for the first day are:

  • Get to know my students.
  • Let them get to know me.
  • Teach them how to enter my room. (I am VERY particular about this!)
Basically when students enter my room I am very strict about them entering quietly and quickly and showing me they are ready for business.  No matter what is going on that day, games, parties, career day, I don't care, every single time they come in it has to be like that.  We don't have a bell schedule, students line up outside the door and come in all at once.  Also since we don't have bells, every minute is precious.  So we will probably practice it a bunch of times.  
I plan on letting students pick their own seats for the first three days.  This is where I start learning about them.  Who are friends, who are talkers, who work well together, etc.
Next up I am going to give them a quiz!  I made a fun Kahoot! quiz about me and each of my 5 groups will have an iPad.  I like this activity because we can practice group norms for teamwork and using the iPads. Plus they probably haven't used Kahoot! before so it should be a fun way for them to get to know a little bit about me.  
After the quiz I will have them fill out an "All about Me" form like Dan Meyer's Who I Am activity.

Day 2
This day we will talk more about the norms of the class and I'll start off by doing similar post it activities as Sherri at Middle School Math Rules!

Day 3
Introducing the Interactive Notebooks!  So excited to be going back to these this year!!!  I skipped last year and completely regret it.  I am also excited that Office Depot has a sale starting tomorrow on composition notebooks. 10 cents each!  They have a 3 notebook limit, but I hear Walmart does price matching with no limit!!!  So hopefully I can get a bunch  (ideally 72) so if students didn't get one I can supply it.

Day 4 and 5
Here's where it gets a little tricky.  We don't have our schedules yet so I'm not sure how long my classes will be or when each class will have their double period (they will each get one a week.) 
My plan is to use the workshop model again as well and since each of my classes will have a double block each week we will use the extra class for centers.  So there are a lot of routines and norms that will have to be learned and practiced.  I am toying with the idea of showing the same video Sherri is showing, but like she said the teacher does have a thick Irish accent.  Will have to search the rest of the weekend for another as well, if not, it is a pretty good video.  Really shows how the math workshop should be run.  During these days or on the other days when the class has the extra period we will do The Marshmallow Challenge! 
Also during these two days we will take care of handing out textbooks and setting our goals!

Ok! I think I have a good outline for my start of the year!   Remember if you want to join in on the challenge visit Sherri's blog and join the Linky!