August 18, 2011

A reason why I love teaching

Lately I've been in a blogging slump--nothing new is happening. I'm not in my classroom yet and I really haven't had wonderful ideas--my brain is still in vacation mode!

So today, I opened my inbox and this is the email I received:

Hi Ms.Ormsbee I have amazing news and it's all thanks to you!!! I just got back from my open house in my new school in Florida!!! When I got my classes guess what...... All my classes are advanced honors!!! And it's all thanks to you. They thought my report card was AMAZING!!!! Thank you so much!!! I really do miss you!!! Oh and how's the babies? ;)

WoW! I definitely didn't expect that! I read it and SMILE! This is why I love teaching :o)


August 14, 2011

Let the countdown begin!

There's 16 days before I can get into my classroom and 23 days before I have to report for PD. Yikes!
That led me to start thinking about what needs to be done before the first day... let the list begin!

*redo schedule and time cards
*print out name plates 
*plan work stations for reading and math
*find a way to integrate grammar and vocab into word study while still giving an assessment every Friday
*order new plan book (I know...I've seen so many awesome lesson plan formats, but I absolutely fell in love with this site erin condren --she has teacher planners that you can personalize! I saw a recent post from The First Grade Parade and she blogged about an awesome deal--you should definitely check it out!!)
*fill in said plan book!
*revisit the common core standards for reading 
*become more familiar with the ccss for writing and math
*read "Rethinking Homework" and make my homework more effective and meaningful
*make Homeworkopoly board and figure out where to put it
*start making some of the awesome ideas I found on Pinterest (you can check my pins out here )
*place another vistaprint order around my sports theme

Wow! That's a lot! I better get started... tomorrow haha! :o)
Enjoy your Sunday!


August 13, 2011

Back to school giveaway!

Really Roper and Frogs in First have joined together for a great giveaway! Both are giving away 3 items from their stores!  Check it out!

August 10, 2011

Star Students

I've always loved the idea of star students and student of the week, but I never really had the time to fit it all in.

As I was preparing for my observation (which was in the middle of June with 5th graders days away from graduating), I needed a quick, simple bulletin board that could manage itself.

Here's what I came up with:
I took one of our math writing assignments that received a 4 (which is considered above grade level)--the student went above and beyond with this work. I was so amazed--she clearly explained her thought process, wrote a rule, created her own problem, used appropriate math vocabulary, and explained the problem solving strategy she used. It was one of those papers where you saw exactly what you taught- a true 'I love my job' moment!

The student work had the assignment, rubric, and my thoughtful comments with positives and next steps. Under the work, I posted an invitation for other students to view the work and make their positive comments. (Those are the other post-its under the work.)

During the morning meeting, I talked about the work on the board and I made the child 'famous' (I made a really BIG deal out of this!) During morning routines I gave the other students an opportunity to check out the work and make comments. (We also discussed how to write comments to others about their work in the beginning of the year.)

The board was a delightful way to add to our classroom community--the students loved giving the compliments  (in the process they saw exactly what I was looking for when I graded their work) and the star student, well, she felt like a star!


August 7, 2011

Did somebody say bananas?

 haha I've been watching way too much Nick Jr!

I've decided to take a little break and not think about school! I've been busy emptying and organizing my office! I can't get into my classroom yet, so my home office is the next best thing right?

And here's where the bananas come in...
      a beautiful bunch of spotted bananas! (It was quite hot today--90 degrees and super humid!) The kitchen smelled of bananas and, yes, you guessed it--these bananas were ready to be turned into bread! (Oh--sidebar--if you leave ripe bananas next to regular bread, your regular bread smells and tastes like banana! Which is pretty gross when you're trying to eat a hotdog and all you taste is banana! Lesson learned--all bread stays in the bread box or anywhere else far away from bananas!)

As we speak the real banana bread is in the oven baking away--I thought it would be fun if I posted the recipe. It's super easy and the bread tastes delicious!

Here's a pic of my recipe:

I retyped it...
                    banana bread

                                          for anyone who'd like to try it!

August 5, 2011

Another Giveaway!

Fern at Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas reached 200 followers! She's giving away a $25 gift card to Walgreen's! Check out her site--she has a lot of great ideas!


Erin at Kleinspiration is giving away a $25 gift card to Target! Please stop by and visit her blog--she has excellent ideas on how to incorporate technology into the classroom!


August 3, 2011

A peek into my classroom--Part 3

Here's the rest of my room (from last year)! Luckily, I still have a lot of summer left!

Classroom 2010-2011

Once I got back to work from maternity leave, much of my thinking changed.

Before I had children, all my charts were perfect and I usually did most of the upkeep in the room often staying there until 5 or 6 at night. 

However, after my maternity leave ended, my outlook changed. I didn't have time to write every chart perfectly or put up these elaborate bulletin boards. (I had to leave with the students--no after school for me!) This is where I handed these jobs over to my monitors. (I had a bunch of students who would join me for lunch and do an assortment of jobs for me--they wrote out vocabulary, created my job board, wrote the names for the 100% homework club, they kept track of incomplete homework, they marked in-class assignments, just to name a few.

The rest of the class had other jobs that they did either in the morning, throughout the day, or at the end. That left me to plan, gather necessary materials, and teach!

Ultimately, the classroom ran itself--a truly student-centered place. I hope I can recreate that with my new class!


August 1, 2011

A peek into my classroom--Part 2

Everyday Math is the program my school currently uses and has used since I started working there--about 9 years ago! Needless to say the students are very familiar with the program and find ways to excel despite the program's difficulty.

There are mixed feelings about the program; I, myself, do like it! As a struggling math student, I like that the program offers many different ways to solve a problem.

I've learned over the years that supplements are needed, especially when comparing the program to the state standards and previous years' tests. One area I've worked hard on is helping my students write about their math thinking. (I had read a Marilyn Burns article many years ago from an Instructor magazine, which helped me.) To start, I'd look at the EDM lessons and write questions to go with each one. Not only was that part time consuming, so was the grading!

After talking with my math coach, she came up with the 'writing in math' paper and the Instructional Team created the rubrics. I took it a step further and linked my bulletin board to NCTM's Guiding Principles
At the top of the board are the content strands and the yellow cards show problem solving strategies. Both are important because the students read the question and identify the content strand, then as they begin to try out the problem, they choose the problem solving strand they're using.

The beauty of this bulletin board is that I'm not only featuring students with the highest grades. There are 3 categories: Communication (showcases students who did an excellent job explaining their mathematical thinking), Representation (students who showed their work completely or ones who solved the problem using different methods), and Problem Solving (students who chose and used appropriate problem solving strategies to figure out the problem.)

I give one, possible two, of these per unit. As the year progresses, the quality of writing improves and the students become more aware of their thinking as mathematicians.

Here are the headings:
Problem Solving

I'd love to hear how others adapt their math programs to meet their students' needs!