Sunday, March 25, 2012

Graphing Activity with Jellybeans!

So, I'm trying to be a fun teacher this week, since it's Spirit Week AND the week before the glorious SPRING BREAK. Therefore, I thought...what the heck? Let's have some fun. I have a fun week planned in our literature study of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and our math topic this week is graphing and analyzing data. I stumbled across a cute idea for little kids involving jellybeans and I have tweaked it a bit to accommodate my big kids. I can't find the original link that caused my inspiration, but if you know who/where to find it let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

We are studying frequency tables, line plots, bar graphs, picture graphs, line graphs, stem-and-leaf plots, and circle graphs. We are also working on calculating mean, median, and mode. For kids, I think this is one of the easier concepts because they have seen it in so many years prior to fifth grade.

I have made some cute little reproducibles to go along with my lesson I'll be teaching tomorrow. Not sure if anyone would be interested, but I'm linking to them anyways! Click here to check them out! You may have to download the original document to see it with the cute fonts!

Anywho, I'm off to work on some last minute test-prep station activities. I'm trying to get a routine established for that, since so much of my day is spent reviewing for the EOG! Does anyone have some great test-prep ideas to share? Let me hear 'em!

-Til next time!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

10 Things That I Believe

Sometimes, I just need to sit down and think of things that I believe in. Sometimes, especially at the end of long days like the one I have had today, I really need to focus on the positive and optimistic side of me that is cheering me on day by day. Believing in things keeps me focused, it keeps me strong. And it keeps me out of the crazy house, which may or may not be too far away from my mental state today. (Just FYI, I am almost 99.9% convinced that I saw a peacock walking down the highway exaggeration. And I don't think that makes sense, which leads me to this self-assigned task of clarity.)

1. I believe that all people genuinely, deep down want to be good. It is easier for some to become misguided, but I truly believe that every single human being was created to be kind, gentle, and a positive influence on the world.

2. I believe that I, as a teacher, have a responsibility to help all children I come into contact with to not only learn, but to become the king, gentle, positive people I mentioned previously. I work very hard to be encouraging and kind to my students to show them this side of me. Today, I think I needed to focus more on this basic belief.

3. I believe that laughter truly is the best medicine. Yesterday, one of my most defiant and resistant students was sitting in a group during a quiz bowl activity. A question was posed to his team and none of his team members knew the answer. This child had had his head smacked down on the table, making a huge scene of not participating. Well, the spirit moved him to answer the question. He popped up and called it out. It caught me so off guard I died laughing. His random act of participation, though slight and minimal, boosted morale and made everyone feel good.

4. I believe that candy is a very very sneaky (yet useful) tool. I keep a bag of Hershey kisses in my desk, and I like to walk around and sit them on the desks of the students that are working smart. Yes, it's sugar, and yes, it may not be the most innovative or scholarly incentive. But the kids seem to love it, and it helps get them on my side. And on task. And, when that is the case, we both win.

5. I believe that classrooms have to be colorful and pretty. Enough said.

6. I believe that I can do great things. I know that there is some reason I entered this profession. I know that somewhere, in my future, I am going to accomplish something that is truly great. I want to reach this potential. I want to inspire and motivate and encourage. I believe I can be a great teacher.

7. I believe that failures are our best teachers. I learn from my mistakes almost daily. I'm fine with that. That's real learning. It's authentic. And it lasts.

8. I believe that I would go insane without my mom, my dog, and McDonald's $1 large iced coffee. No exaggeration on any of that. Necessary things.

9. I believe that the people working in a school determine the success, both socially and educationally. I love my co-workers. I love the positive feelings that they emit. I have been in schools where the staff were hostile and un-friendly. It wasn't a happy place to be. My school is happy. Kids, for the most part, enjoy being there and feel like they are treated well. With the exception of one terribly angry little man in my classroom today...oh well. Moving on.

10. I believe in the education system. I don't understand all of the regulations and paperwork and mumbo-jumbo things that seem thrown at me each week. I am terrified about being judged base on 26 pre-adolescent minds' performance on one test on one given day. And politics are a subject I'm not even going to broach. But I believe in the system. I trust in it. I understand that they are trying to make the best decisions for the children and for our country. And for us. I just wish it all made sense to me. Even so, I believe.

It is good to believe in things. It is healthy. It is soothing. I feel so bad for people who don't have strong beliefs to fall back on. Religion, philosophy, celebrities...whatever gives you hope for a future that is full of happiness and success. The above list are just some of my beliefs. Ask me on another day and I may have chosen to list 10 completely different ones. But these tonight are some of the ones that speak to my personal trials at the moment. I am a new teacher with about 20 million things I have yet to learn about this profession. I make mistakes every day. I ask questions, and I learn things, and tomorrow I start all over again. I love my job. And I feel truly blessed to have it. That's just the feeling that I am going to focus on tonight.

So anyway, if you made it through my emotionally-laden sermon of a blog post, I'd like to ask you a question: What is it that you believe in? What basic beliefs get you through your days? 

Til next time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fun with Ratios, Decimals, and Percents!

My kids absolutely despise anything related to fractions. They get really sullen, ticked facial expressions and nearly shut down. For that reason, our next chapter on Ratio and Percent has this teacher in the hot sweats. I keep thinking, "How can I make them care about this and feel confident in their abilities?" So far, this is what I have come up with.


I am going to incorporate foldables in their math notes for this chapter. They liked them when we did them for measurement, so who knows? It may get them on my side for this chapter. We'll see. I'm thinking I will do the square foldable like you see below...

Cute Homework

It's springtime. I'm a fun gal. So I made a few cute worksheets to send home as homework. Check them out!

Thoughts? Because beyond this, I am stumped. I am under a bit of a time crunch due to my special circumstances for coming in to this class, but I want to make sure this concept sticks! I would appreciate any and all shared wisdom from my fellow bloggers!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What a Whirlwind!

For those of you out there that have read the few posts I have shared in the blog world...I am still out here and alive! This first month and a half as a new teacher in fifth grade have been an absolute blur. I come home every day exhausted, but I absolutely love this experience. I am learning new things every day and, even though I am dealing with some pretty serious behavior issues in my class of 24, I think I am exposing them to some really new and exciting ways of learning. Sometimes I get hot and sweaty and nervous when I am about to introduce a new concept. And sometimes, it doesn't work out well. But then...sometimes it does. And when I succeed I am even more driven to do it again. And that is what keeps me going each day. It's not the students' grades (which aren't always what I wish they were). It's not all the love and appreciation I get from them. (They're fifth graders. They don't actively appreciate anything when it comes to school.) But it's the obstacles that we get over, the sneaky ways I hook them in and actually teach them, that matter.

I don't have pictures of things we've been doing because, at this point, I am focusing on my abilities to teach, monitor, assess, tutor, and manage my class. Taking pictures is a luxury that I cannot afford! Maybe one day! I would like to give a shout out to the blog that has really given me a lot of ideas that I have used and had success with. Stephanie Moorman over at Teaching in Room 6 has some of the BEST suggestions I have come across. I have adopted her Calendar Math idea and tweaked it a bit to make it work in my classroom. Here is the form that I have been using, just a slight modification of the one she shares in her blog. (Maybe that link will work...I am struggling still with these logistics!)

I am linking up with Lorraine over at Fabulous 4th Grade nice to have a place to find all upper grade bloggers! Look forward to getting inspired by your ideas...and maybe soon I will be posting some of my own thoughts and projects!

Anywho, I am going to hush and move on to my hours of blog stalking. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!