Thursday, August 08, 2013

18 Days to Go

I have a countdown widget on my classroom website - - - it tells me that there are only 18 days left until the first day of school.  Sniff.  That is less than 3 weeks.  And it also means that there are only 11 days left until our meetings start and I am basically back at work full time.

This week I have worked in my classroom 17 hours.  I decided to keep track; don't ask me why.  To torture myself with knowing how much I overtime I don't get paid for, I guess (shrug).

I covered my bulletin boards, put my furniture in place, except for final arrangement of the desks.  I cleared out some extra tables, desks and chairs that I (fingers crossed I don't pick up any more than the 25 I have now) won't need and were making the room feel cluttered.  I got rid of a gigantic podium that I alternately loved loved loved and hated hated hated.  In the end, the fact that there was never a good spot for it, and that I was always moving it around either to use it or get it out of the way, was enough to make me move it out.  That, and a broken lower shelf that offended me each time I saw it.

What else? Hmmmm.....not too much I guess actually.  That was 17 hours worth?  Egad.  NO wonder I can never get out of there.

Let's see, there must be more...I sorted and got rid of some bulletin board borders - I had too many that I inherited and no longer wanted hanging around.  All the books from my library are sitting on tables.  I need to do some sorting and tossing there.  I bought a new rug for my room...what a steal!  It was originally over $300 and I got it on clearance for about $85 including tax at Pier 1.   I hung some cute wind chimes, and put a magna border all around my whiteboard.  My one lone, but fairly large, whiteboard.  That has a SmartBoard mounted on it.  I would say in the middle of it, but I am not that lucky.  I have a small one foot wide whiteboard on the right, and then one that's about 5 feet wide on the other side.  Seriously.   And it isn't like that centered it in the room either.  But I digress.  The border looks great.

I will take pictures next time I go in.  I plan to go in on Saturday and give a few things a coat of paint.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Back to School Again

I had really great intentions when I started this last year. But here we are, almost exactly one year since I last posted. That speaks volumes, actually, it was the year from hell heck. That moniker I gave myself, the one that says Sixth and Spectacular???  Wishful thinking on my part.  It was definitely Sixth.  But I don't know how spectacular it ended up being.  If it was, I was too tired too notice.

Here are a few of the layers, peeled back:
1. First year teaching 6th grade after 5 straight years in First grade. New room, new curriculum (obvs), etc.
2. My class went 1:1 with iPads at the end of the First quarter.
3. We were working on accreditation - meetings, reports, etc.
4. I was a Student Council advisor for the first time.
5. I had a group of boys that had to test me every. single. day. for. one. hundred. eighty. days. Not to generalise and say that all the problems/troublemaking in my class should be blamed on boys, but heck ya. It was boys. Rude. Irresponsible. Disrespectful. Smart-mouthed. But,  I've subbed in some 6th grades before that were much worse, so I have perspective.  (I teach in a Catholic school, and even though there aren't Nuns with Wrist-rapping Rulers roaming the halls anymore, there is still a little higher level of expectations for behavior, and our kids are pretty mainstream, so the behavior issues I complain about were more annoying and disruptive than threatening or violent. And I basically liked the kids. )   But looking back, I don't know how I got through it with them, considering points 1-4 above.

 Personally... It was also a really strange year.
6. My mother-in-law (95 years old) moved across country to live with us at the beginning of July because she was miserable in her home, and too too feeble and forgetful to live alone.
7. She lived with us until October when we had to move her into assisted living because she was miserable in our home.
8. In January, we moved her out of assisted living, and back into our home because she was miserable in assisted living.
9. In February we moved her into a group home with more individualized care because she was making us miserable. And she could no longer be left alone - that became apparent when she let strangers in the front door when we weren't here.
10. My dad was in the hospital for over a week in June.

But on a cheerier note:
11. My oldest child, who is studying abroad, came home for a couple of weeks over Christmas break with his girlfriend AKA: new fiancee!  We love her - they have been together almost 10 years, so that was awesome news.
12. We spent Easter break in Las Vegas with my daughter and her husband and my granddaughter.  That was also quite awesome!  My granddaughter changed so much over the last year - she learned to walk, she talks a lot more, she has a mouthful of what looks like a hundred teeth, and she actually won 3rd place in a "running" race - among 1 and 2 year olds!  Apparently dad standing at the finish line with ice cream is a strong motivator for this one.
13. My youngest met a personal goal, and made his high school JV tennis team, and got the coach's award.   He also got his driver's permit and has started learning how to drive (so much for a stress-free summer!)

 Clearly, I had lots to blog about, be no time/energy/inclination. I hope this is a better year :) I have started working on some projects, so I will start writing about those and getting ready for new year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Less than two weeks to go

I don't know where the summer went. I know it is still technically mid summer, but I will be at school full time this week, meetings start next week and school on the 27th. My classroom is looking much better, but I still feel woefully unprepared for the new year. I have been focusing on making the room look nice, some organization, thinking about routines and procedures, meditating on some curriculum ideas...but generally feeling that I better get on the ball and start some planning because a cute classroom will only occupy 6th grade minds for so long. On a positive note, I enhanced the window covering situation considerably, I have my actual bulletin boards covered even if I haven't decided for sure what to put on all of them yet, the carpets have been cleaned, I set up desks (might be a new students coming though), and I have many things ready to set up. I will start posting some photos of things I have accomplished this summer, but first a photo of a very good reason why I haven't gotten even more done:
I had a lovely visit from my adorable granddaughter (and my daughter too). I know everybody has cute babies in their lives, but I don't get to see this one very often, and she's my first grandbaby (interesting juxtaposition since I still have one of my own babies at home). Anyway, I didn't do any preparing for the new year at all for a week or so, so now I will be paying the price. But it was totally worth it! She turned 9 months old while she was here, and I hadn't seen her since she was a newborn. I thought I would get some work done during her visit, but how can you resist that face?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blog Hopping

I am a newbie when it comes to teacher blogs.  Since I have nothing against hopping in general and certainly nothing against blog hopping in particular, this seemed like a good idea.  I love finding new blogs to read, especially those that have something special to share.  They don't have to be at my grade level either, but I am certainly most curious about those.  I love, love, love that there is so much collaboration and cooperation to join in on here in the World Wide Teachers' Room.  

OK, just as if it is the first day of school and we are doing introductions all around, I have my assignment ready to share:

1. What state are you in?   I am in California.

2. Your current teaching position?  Sixth grade this fall.

3. What is your teaching experience?  The last 5 years I was in 1st grade.  I subbed for several years before that in all grades K-6.

4. When did you start blogging?  I started blogging in the Spring of 2004, so a little over 8 years.  But as my teaching career escalated, my blogging career deflated.  That was partly due to time constraints, and partly due to privacy issues.  I mean, I didn't really want to write about my students or what was going on in my room, but between August and June, what else is there to talk about?  Seriously?  Then I had this brilliant idea last month that maybe a teaching blog with an audience of teachers might be just the thing to bridge that gap between wanting to blog and having bloggers' block.  I can write about curriculum or classroom decor or management or technology and feel like there might be someone out there who wants to read it.  Maybe.  If I'm lucky. 

5.  Share a blogging tip / blogging resource.  I read recently that the best thing to do when writing your blog is to be authentic.  (If you can't be authentic, be pretty.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've Been Working Hard

Summer marches on, doesn't it?
I worked in my classroom this morning - I think that means my summer is pretty much over because I think I will be going in just about every morning for awhile.  Hopefully I will feel ready at some point and try to forget about it briefly, but I am not holding my breath on that point!  There is so much to do!

I have been busiest this past week moving photos and docs and music files from my old home computer (almost 10 years old - Apple, I salute you!) to a brand new one.  The old computer was just too old to sync up with the new one, so anything not in the cloud (like almost everything) needed to get moved manually.  I am just about done with that - done enough to say I really don't care anymore if I missed something!!

I have also been reading The Daily Five and following along with the discussion over at We Read We Blog We Teach . They will be discussing CAFE next, and I am excited to bring many of those elements into my 6th grade class next year, and probably figuring out a way to incorporate the iPads while I'm at it. This is truly a summer of non-stop learning and growing for me. On another note, I made a video of the mess that is my classroom the other day.  I also took pictures of each wall - hopefully the befores and afters will be very different!I will post the still pictures later when the room is done.

One project I have tackled is taking 4 of these old and dirty cushions that came off of a wicker corner group that will become the center of my classroom library seating:

And I added 4 of these new beach towels, bought on sale at Target for only $5.00 dollars each:

And covered them to make pretty new cusions!  Maybe after awhile, I will take them off and sew them to make them sturdier, but for now wrapping and securing them with large safety pins has done the trick. I can't wait to see it all together in the room.  

The next project I have tackled has been to take a storage unit that was natural colored wood, but had lots of marks from old stickers and labels and pen marks all over it

I cleaned it.  I sanded it.  I repainted it in fun colors.

Then I added these cute little chalkboard labels. When I decide what will go into them, I will write on the label with white chalk.  

Cute, no?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Share My Lessons

Since I am in San Diego, I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE convention a couple of weeks ago.  I learned some new things, especially helpful with the full-speed-ahead nature of technology advancement both in our field and especially in my own classroom!
One new website I learned about could be a great reference.  I say could be only because I haven't actually had the chance to explore it too much since the convention, and I haven't uploaded anything of my own there yet.  It is called Share My Lesson.  It is a place for teachers to add their lessons and borrow great ideas from others.  And there are links to the Common Core.  This is definitely something I will be checking out more as the summer progresses - especially helpful with my move to a new grade level.  Bonus: they will be giving away $500 gift cards to the top teacher contributors.  I am sure there is more info about that on their website.

This helpful tip was inspired by the fabulous 5 Star Blogging Criteria.  Visit The Organized Classroom to see if you are also a 5 Star Blogger!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Tech'd Out From Head to Toe

I am enjoying the summer (who doesn't?) but wondering if I will be able to keep up with everything once the school year starts again?  I am so totally tech'd up and and out now!  I think I need to make a list of all the websites that I will be using and maintaining.

1. Classroom Management: Class Dojo
2. Grades: Gradelink
3. Connect with class: Edmodo
4. Connect with parents: Google sites class website
5. Connect with co-workers: Edmodo
6. Connect with other teachers: Blog
7. Conncet with other people: old (long ignored) blog
8. Random other things that I may not really have time for: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc
9. There are too many to mention, but I need to figure out which website and apps I will be using in the classroom.  I suspect this may evolve over the course of the year, so NO PRESSURE!
10. Constant email!!!

I am embracing all of this because I really do love it, but I also know how time consuming it can be.  Should I be excited - or should I be afraid, very afraid?