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!