See ya later, not goodbye

Thursday, July 25, 2013 8 comments
So.... I have an announcement.  Actually it means nothing to anybody but me but I'd still like to hype it up.  I'm just kinda like that.
After fifteen years of teaching in the same school, I am leaving.  I took a job here in Massachusetts teaching in an urban district.  I'm teaching in a small K-8 school and I am the only social studies teacher for seventh and eighth grade.  I am so excited, scared and overwhelmed I don't know if I should whoop it up or puke!
Last week I cleaned out my classroom of a decade and disentangled myself.  Although I looooooved my classroom and would have forked you in the eye if you ever even suggested I might want a new classroom, I am the reason teachers should have to move classrooms every five years or so.
My biggest issue....Time marches on!  I threw out binder after binder of worksheets I created a lifetime ago that definitely don't reflect who I am today.  I found all of my special education resources that I squirreled away in case they hated me as a social studies teacher and sent me back.  Worst I found these..

Boxes and boxes of diskettes!  Don't forget about these....

On yes... April Morning read aloud on multiple tapes.  Yup, let me just get out my tape player.... I had one of those too!  Actually, I had a dual cassette recorder.

It took 10 hours, 4 recycling bins, and 7 trash bags but it is done.

 I'm a little teary eyed in this one.... Who am I kidding?  I cried like a baby!
I packed all the important things..

Now I'm ony way.... Goodbye Room 239.... It was a blast!

Moving forward.... Thidis my first time teaching in an urban district.  I would love to hear any advice from those of you who have been there and done that!

Liebster Award...... No Suh!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 4 comments
Wow!  In one week I have had two wonderful ladies and their blogs nominate me for a Liebster Award.  I was nominated by Sara over at Mrs. Brown Loves Bookworms and Liz at Beach Teach.  Thank you ladies!!!

When you are nominated, there are a couple of rules you have to follow:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Answer the questions the nominator asked you.
3. Create 11 questions for your own nominees.
4. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.
5. Contact the nominees to let them know that you nominated them.

Since I was nominated by two different bloggers I am going to answer Sara's questions since she tagged me first.  Here goes.....

1. What’s your favorite subject/grade to teach?8th grade American History!!!!  I love 8th graders because they are the perfect hybrid of an adult and a child and although you get the worst of both age groups, you totally et the best!
2. What is your favorite picture book?
I recently taught a lesson on the ocean in my kiddo's kindergarten class and we read Over in the Ocean In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes.  It is gorgeous!
3. What is your favorite picture book?I recently taught a lesson on the ocean in my kiddo's kindergarten class and we read Over in the Ocean In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes.  It is gorgeous!

4. What is your favorite chapter book?My absolute favorite book of all time is Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.  I try to read it every year.
5. Give us your best teaching tip for new teachers.
Have faith that you are the person in the room who knows what you are doing:)
6. What piece of technology could you not do without in your classroom and why?
LCD Projector!!!  I can give up everything but my projector (and of course my computer).  With these two things, my fabulous midgets and I can travel the world!

7. What is your favorite “after work” meal?
Spaghetti and meatballs!!!
8. What are your hobbies?
Blogging, digital scrapbooking and reading are my passions!
9. List your 3 favorite vacation spots.
Rye, NH
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
.....We honeymooned at the last two!
10. What is one thing you have purchased for your classroom this summer?
Nothing yet!
11. What book would you recommend for fellow teachers?
Teach Like a Pirate....I'm almost done with it and I loooove it!
12. If you won $500 for your classroom what would you purchase?
Two Chromebooks.....more technology!

Here are my 11 questions:

  1. Why did you become a teacher?
  2. What is your favorite classroom activity of all time?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. What is your favorite restaurant?
  5. What TV show do you watch but you hate to admit it?
  6. If you could go on vacation anywhere and didn't have to worry about price, where would you go?
  7. What television show can you binge watch for hours on end?
  8. What is your favorite thing to do during summer vacation?
  9. What piece of technology would you loooooove to have for your classroom?
  10. What website could you not live without in your classroom?
  11. Why did you start blogging?
Here are my nominees:

I tried to pick some fellow middle school teachers as all as some fellow New Englanders.

Middle School Time Savers

Monday, July 8, 2013 4 comments

Summer has started and so far It has been fabulous and stressful. We have thoroughly celebrated the seventh birthday of my amazing and fabulous son and then he broke his finger falling off his new bike:(. I'm just hoping he doesn't need a cast so we can continue our daily soaking in the pool. Right now, you are getting this blog post live from jury duty!!! I have been called up for various jury duties (district and federal... Oh yes, they are different and don't care about each other or if you have already served on one... Can't we all just get along?) three times in the past three years. What does this fabulous state that I love so much, have against me?

Anybody who follows me knows my love affair with Pinterest. The love affair, though, causes me great envy. I look at these elementary school teachers' classrooms and I just drool. I love the organization and individualization that they can achieve because they have the same thirty kids all day. Don't get me wrong, I know that teaching elementary is just as hard as teaching any other grade level. I'm just envious of the way they can organize for one group of kids as opposed to five. I used this envy to figure out what I could do to create more of a flow in my class as well as create an atmosphere of independence for my almost high schoolers. So, what did I do?

1. Do Now Video

I blogged about this topic here. I incorporated a very independent Do Now into the beginning of my class but it took some of my classes longer than others to get into the groove of coming into class and getting prepared. I always tell my kids that I I don't expect them to be social studies' students the minute they get into class. Two minutes ago they were language arts' students so obviously they need time to adjust. I made this video to give them a preset length of time and a reminder. I hadn't accounted for the fact that the music was going to be a huge motivator and for some of the kids the auditory reminder was key. All in all this was a MAJOR success this year.

Here is the link to the video!

2. Get your own papers!!!

As I've stated I really worked my Do Now into less of a bonus question and more of an organization activity I have student complete every day. My Do Now always starts with a prompt to write down their homework, which is listed in the back of the class. I then have them take out anything they need to begin the first activity. I actually hang a physical copy of the activity on the board to help my visual learners. After fifteen years in teaching I decided to do something really new. I hate taking time out of class to hand stuff out, but that is traditionally how you get things to students. I decided to take a chance and have the kids pick up their own handouts. I tell the students, in th Do Now, how many sheets they need to pick up.

On the table in the back, I put all the paperwork needed for the entire class and simply label them with sticky notes.

The kids did amazing at this!!!! It saved so much time in class and really streamlined our activities. Even when the kids forgot to pick stuff up at the beginning they took it upon themselves to grab it in class when they realized they didn't have the necessary activities. This is something I'm totally taking this into next year.

3. Cheap Whiteboards

This is another Pinterest find. I placed card stock into sheet protectors and got skinny expo markers and voila......whiteboards!!!! The kids love them and they have cut down on paper use in my classroom. They are amazing for brainstorming and group activities. I place these on the kids' desks before they enter along with a pencil box or cup with the markers and a tissue for cleaning. I can't wait to find more opportunities to use these in my class.

4. Prepare the Supplies!!!

This year I spent a good amount of time preparing the resources for the kids before class. I used pencil boxes and sometimes plastic cups to put on their desks or in their groups. In these boxes I place things like highlighters, glue sticks, colored pencils, etc. It takes a good amount of time and work to set all this up but I have found it totally worth it!

Did you introduce something new this year they helped your classes? Let me know!!!