Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Break Week 1 of 9

Goodbye Class of 2014 (my last 8th grade homeroom for awhile "sniff sniff")

My summer break this year is actually a day less than 9 weeks since I had to go in last Monday for a PD day.  On a good note, this first week felt very long.  I didn't start a great routine like I wanted to, which is going to include an attempt at regular blogging and some sort of early morning cardio.  I didn't do much of school stuff this week either, read my Bloglovin' feed though and finally browsed Pinterest, those are two things I really put off when I'm super busy with school.  Other highlights from this first week include:
Our very first trip to Liberty Science Center!  We had a blast!!  The best part for my 10 year old son was the Skyscraper exhibit where he got to walk the beams like a steel worker.  My favorite part was the Rubik's Cube exhibit.

Next up was the first of two concerts with  my 16 year old daughter, Friday night was Say Anything at a small little venue a few towns over from us.  I love this place because it feels like you are watching live music in someones basement.  She loves to get right at the front and I stay off to the side in the "mommy zone" lol!  These shows get pretty crazy with the crowd surfers and the security guards are constantly pulling kids out over her head.  I like being able to see if she is OK.
That's her in the blue short sleeve shirt before the main band came on.
Then on Saturday we went to "Monumentour"
I can't lie, I was definitely excited about this show, New Politics, Paramore, and Fall Out Boy.  Although "my type" of music is more like Metallica, Rush and Tool, I LOVE some of the kids stuff and Fall Out Boy is definitely one of them.  This was our third FOB show since last year and this was the first that wasn't general admission floor.  I actually bought lawn seats originally and let the girls have "seats" but the day of the show I went to the box office and upgraded my ticket and got an excellent seat.  I literally danced my butt off, LOL, according to my fitness monitor I reached 199% of my daily activity goal.
So here it is  6:28 am now and I am waiting for hubby to get home from work (he works a miserable 3rd shift job-totally killing him but its good for the kids schedule during the school year) and then I'm going to go for a walk.
I do have a lot I want to accomplish or learn about this summer.  Here is my list and I hope to blog about some of it:

  • Creating better assessments-we are required to give 4 Benchmark tests a year.  They are built into our calendar and non-negotiable.  Our whole school shuts down for two mornings to do this-just like state testing.  I make the math test for my grades and they are horrible.  I just pull questions out of the test bank and format exactly like our state test.  6 sections, 8-10 multiple choice and an open ended each.  Its brutal, especially that first one in October.  So a major goal is going to be creating those, and not only do I need to do it to make them better, I also need to make new tests since I will be teaching 5th/6th this year!
  • Bringing back INBs!!  I need to plan/learn this whole new grade level so what better time to do this!
  • Implementing "growth mindset training"??? I guess that is what you call it.  I've been reading and studying this since last summer and love it so much.  I am really going to make it a priority this year.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Big Changes Ahead!

I am moving from 7/8 to 5/6!  I am so excited.  I've been talking about it for a year now and last Thursday was asked by my admin if I wanted to do it for next year.  I have to admit, when it finally became real I got scared.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE my team and I really love 8th grade.  The only grade I don't care for is 7th.
When thinking about the big picture, it will be a really good change for my school.  The current 5/6 teacher is too abstract and will be so much better with 7/8.  
I am really looking forward to getting back to the basics.  I am so sick of kids coming to me with a fear of fractions and long division.

I would appreciate any tips or tricks for this age level!!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

24 Game Tournament

I did it!  I held a 24 Game Tournament this year with my 7th and 8th graders!  It was a great experience for all and I can't wait to do it again next year.
Here is how it went down.  I have been using the 24 Game as daily warm ups and giving the kids lots of practice time in the weeks leading up to the tournament.  About a week before I started recording progress and engagement in the classes.  I used that as an elimination round to select the final competitors.  I ended up with twelve 7th graders and nine 8th graders to move on to the main event.  
Since we don't switch classes the last week of school we used my classroom and I sent out my homeroom students to other rooms and called in all of the competitors.  As they entered they were given the yellow game card.  
The cards told them the table they would go to for each round.  I had predecided the players for each group for rounds 1 and 2.  I put the 7th graders together and the 8th graders together.  After round 2 we added up the scores and I took the 9 highest scoring players and split them into 3 groups.  I had a nice mix of 7th and 8th graders in the semi-finals.  I was excited to see how the semi-finals would go because I had noticed during the class times that the 7th graders were much more into the game and excited for the tournament than the 8th graders.  However, the 8th graders stepped up!  For the finals I took the three highest scoring players from the semi-finals to play the championship round.  It ended up being one 7th grader and two 8th graders.  It was a tough match!  One 8th grader got disqualified and the other two players tied!  We had a one card tie-breaker and my 7th grader was the champion!  
I gave out the prize-large bags of Skittles, Starbursts and LifeSavers!  Last year my kids were all about Takis, this year its all about candy!

I basically used the rules from the Suntex website with some tweaking:
The tweaks I made were I did not use the timing they suggest.  The proctors gave them one minute to find a solution.  Next I gave them the option of stating the pattern first or just jumping in with the steps of the solution.  I also gave them more like 30 seconds to get the answer out once they touched the card.  That wasn't such an issue, when they knew it, they were able to get it out.  That was pretty much it!