Friday, March 30, 2012

A Little Persuasion...

I am so glad this week is over!  STAAR Writing is done, my ankle is healing, and my quarters will return ready to work on Monday!  (positive thoughts, positive thoughts...)  I did have a couple of very flattering job opportunities the last couple of days and it really ended my week well.  But I'm still in the prime of my "I love the classroom" attitude and right now, it's the best choice for me, I think.

Yesterday, my quarters started their Persuasion Lapbooks.  They created the foldables, glued them into their lapbooks, and labeled them.  Fridays usually means our weekly assessments.  However, we had too much testing this week and no new material, so our Friday routine changed.

Today, we read a couple of persuasive texts.  One came with our reading series and the other was Click, Clack, Moo:   Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.  (Experience in primary always comes in handy!!)  We completed several anchor charts and the quarters were really into it!  My partner said that, yesterday, quarters were talking about persuasion during Math! Woohoo!!

Our first anchor chart covered the text purpose and text features.  Quarters copied this information into their lapbooks.
We then talked and charted persuasive text organization.
They also put words that indicate persuasive text into their lapbooks.  As we read Click, Clack, Moo, we listed sentences that indicated where theses words would be appropriate on sticky notes.
Finally, they charted possible STAAR Reading Question Stems and put those into the lapbooks.
 It's nice to tie in things like author's purpose and main idea into stems about a persuasive essay.

I plan to grade their lapbooks this weekend and I will try to post pics of those books.  We sure had fun!  I'll try anything to help them commit new knowledge to memory!

In the spirit of trying new things, and not succeeding a possibility, I end with another Potter quote (you're surprised I'm sure!):

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.” --JK Rowling

So, I gotta try...Rowling said so...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Back to School...

Yes!! I was able to go back to work today!  It was actually OK!  Some buds got a few good jokes in, of course. My team pal, V, was awesome!  She helped take my yucky brown poster paper that covered things for STAAR and she took the kids to lunch and brought them back so I wouldn't have to make the trip down!  My dyslexia pal helped with coffee!  I'm so lucky...

The kids were awfully wild today.  I get it...testing was done and it took a lot of their concentration!  But geez, Louise...I had to assign homework just to get them back in the learning mode.

We had a little fun today.  We talked about persuasive texts (not writing!!) and prepared our new lapbooks for our lesson tomorrow.  I love lapbooks!  They seem to be all the rage here in blog-land!  So, I decided to try it with my students. I couldn't afford to use a file folder for each student--it's the end of the year and I don't have that many left!  But...I do have a bunch of 11x20 manilla construction paper packets.  We used those!! They worked very well, I think!!

Instead of printing out material for students to glue into their lapbooks, we made foldables that we are going to complete tomorrow.  We are going to cut the tabs on the red foldable and fill out all of the information!  The blue and green foldables open up to reveal 8 sections!!! Awesomeness!!!  My kids are foldable experts, so they were pretty quick at getting these things together!

Tomorrow I will post the open foldables!  I'm really excited and my kids love the lapbook idea as well!

As we talked about persuasive texts today, I used the example of the abused animals commercial and how it appeals to your emotions.  I told the kids that using emotion helps the charity collect money or donations.  So, that leads me to this quote...

I have never met anyone who wanted to save the world without my financial support.  ~Robert Brault


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Alrighty Then...

I do NOT have a fractured foot or leg or whatever!!!!!!! YAY!!! But I do have to use crutches and wear this uncomfortable bandage thing.  Plus a med.  But, hey, I can return to school tomorrow and I'm very happy about that!!  I just have to hobble around on crutches, which should be good for a laugh or two!!  I may just try one crutch...Thank goodness we have an elevator at school!!!

I heard there was a little drama today, but I couldn't have done anything about it if I were there!  So, tomorrow we start reading and math focus!!  I have a great idea for a lapbook on persuasive texts that I'm going to try tomorrow and Friday.  I'll see how it works out and post pics if it goes well.  (I may post pics if it's an epic fail, too, just to save someone else the pain!!

I thought I would stalk and pin all day, but after the doc visit, I just wanted to sleep and watch TV.  This is the only time I can do that without feeling guilty!!

I leave you with this fits my week, in a way! And it made me laugh!!

"Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says "If an emergency, notify:" I put "DOCTOR". What's my mother going to do?"--Anonymous

Have a great evening all! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Today was the first day of the STAAR Writing test.  I think my quarters did OK!  I say that because no one finished in 45 minutes (happened on benchmarks).  Every one of them seemed to be on task (did NOT happen on benchmarks).  No one fell asleep or was caught daydreaming (also happened on benchmarks).  They seemed calm and relaxed.   I was really proud of them.  We won't know the results for quite some time.  But tomorrow is another day of STAAR Writing...

And I won't be there.  Yep.  After four hours of "active monitoring", I could no longer take the pain in my ankle/lower leg.  So, when they were done testing, I left and went to the Dr.  It's not my ankle (according to her).  It's most likely my lower leg.  Possible fracture.  Yep.  So I have to stay off of it tomorrow while I wait for them to call with the second round of x-ray results.  NOT HAPPY.  I WANT to be there. But I just cannot walk on it anymore.

Most of my quarters are ELLs and they have a problem with confidence.  They also love routine.  I'm afraid that they will freak out that I'm not there!!!  They know what to do and me being there really doesn't's not like I'm teaching or anything.  But there's comfort for them in the "known".  Maybe I'll call them in the morning, while they are eating breakfast...

And the class I test saw me fall!!! They were the talkers!!! ARRRGGGHHH!!!  It's not their fault, of course, but I have some sweet girls who will take it to heart.  You all understand about wanting to be there on testing day, I'm sure...

I won't be able to text my blessed team teacher or my dyslexia pal because they are testing, too.  So I will have no idea how calm or upset my kids are until after 12:30.  I don't want to miss school!!!!!!

So, I will blog-stalk, comment reply, and pin all day tomorrow...

Well, I chose the following quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire because it mentions pain...and I did try to "numb it" by ignoring it...

"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” --JK Rowling

You have NO idea...


Monday, March 26, 2012

Second Post of the Day...Linky Fun...

With all of the state testing days approaching, it's time we had some fun!  Mimi over at 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules (one of my favorites, I must say) has started a "Getting to Know You" linky party!!!  Your job is to copy and paste her questions, fill in your answers, then add one new question to the bottom of your blog...oh, and of course link your survey back to her page! As she put's "mindless fun".  We ALL need that about now!!

1.  Are you married, do you have a bf, or are you flying free as a single lady/man?
I am married to my high school sweetheart, Scott.

2.  Where did you grow up?

Good ol' Pasadena, Texas.

3.  Do you have any pets?  If so, what kind and what is his/her name?
Yes.  Cooper, a mix between a chiuaua and a yorkie.  He's a mutt but should be a cat because of his attitude!

4. What is a favorite tv show you are embarrassed to admit to watching?
Jerseylicious.  I don't know why.  I also love all the psycho Real Housewives.    

5.  Are you a saver or a spender?

6.  What is your favorite children's book?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

7.  Were you the class clown, teacher's pet, or neither?
I was in between.

8.  Who is your favorite athletic team?
Houston Texans!!!!

9.  Where did you go on your last REALLY fun vacation?
Denver, Colorado with the fam!

10.  Who is your favorite actor?  Actress?
Actor-Gerard Butler;  Actress-Anne Hathaway

11.  Tell about the last time you cried because you were happy.
When my daughter had her military wedding.  We loFve our son-in-law and she was so happy...

12.  What is your favorite season?
Fall, of course!  Some small winter weather (cold rain, light wind), Christmas smell, falling leaves...

13.  What is your biggest regret?

Not having more friends MY age who have children the same ages as my own.

14.  What food do you just NOT like at all?
Liver! ::ACK::  Once, when I was little, I thought it was a piece of steak (and I looooove steak).  I picked it up to take a big bite before my mom caught me and it was the driest, most disgusting thing ever.   To this day, I won't even try it.  Plus, the thought of eating some animal's live is disgusting...


15. Who was your most memorable teacher, and why?
Sister Florentine...yes, I was taught by nuns!  If we were too loud, she would give homework assignments in the lowest voice possible.  And we were in big trouble if we missed them. (Our parents were paying directly for our education, mind you.)  But I also remember her encouraging my love for reading and having contests that I enjoyed.  I think I read a book a day in her class; every Beverly Cleary/Judy Blume I could get my hands on!

16.  What is your most embarrassing teacher moment?
 Falling down the stairs when trying to be authoritative!!! My biggest fear and my most embarrassing moment...and it happened TODAY!

Link on, my friends!

The Day Before... is the day before STAAR!  My quarters have had a lot of fun the last week getting ready for the test. read correctly...they have had FUN!  And so have I!!

I really enjoyed making surprises for them each day.  "The Writing Games" were awesome!  I know that, typically, we teachers tend to review and reteach the week before our state tests because...well..that's what we think we should do.  But, the truth is, if we've taught them to the best of our ability and done everything we can to meet their needs and have them grow, then we have done what we should do.  When we know better, we do better.  I realized that they can still review using games and fun ideas.  I have spent two months teaching how to take the test (bubble in, plan, final copy...).  If they don't know it by now...cramming them full of things on the day before the test is futile.

With that in mind, I had my quarters just write today.  No urgency, no pressure, no "if you don't do this, I will not be happy."  They practiced narrative and expository writing at their own speed.  I was available to conference with them throughout the day.  My team teacher was AWESOME.  She kept her class all day and allowed them to write as well.  I talked to them and gave them their assignments and she did the rest.  It was great!!  Don't misunderstand...I had a few who did very little to nothing...but most of them tried.

However, my kiddos were a little wild at the freedom of writing without pressure!  They were very loud in the hallway after lunch, so I turned them around to walk down the stairs and back up again. (Our building is two-stories!)  Anyway, as we were going down...I FELL!!!  My. greatest. fear.  As I was walking, I turned to make sure the rest of the class was following quietly and I skipped the bottom step.  Another teacher was standing there and I fell on my butt!!! I also twisted my ankle badly! I had to do everything I could not to cry in front of my quarters!! They had to get the nurse and everything!!!  It also seemed like every teacher in the building walked by, getting full view of my idiocy!!!!  A couple even mentioned how unfortunate it was that they didn't have their camera phones!  My kids were in shock, though!  I'm alive, in a little pain, but I will be there for the STAAR!

Now, I was super excited to give my quarters their final surprise to help them be confident during STAAR.  Since most of my students are ELLs, they sometimes lack confidence with what they can do with the English language.  But everyone received a "STAAR Survival Kit".  Here are some pics!!


Inside each kit, was a special note explaining what is in the kit.

Here is your STAAR Survival Kit!
1.  A pencil
to help you record your answers.
2.  A pencil top eraser
to help you correct your mistakes.
3.  A rubbing rock
to help you relieve some stress.
4.  Peppermints
to keep you awake and alert.
5.  A tracking card
to remind you to ask for one if you need it!

If this is of interest to you, you can download it from my "Free Printables" page.

I believe in my kids and their ability to succeed.  They will be fine!  So I leave you with a Potter quote that reminds me of what I want my students to believe...

“Wit beyond measure is a man's greatest treasure.” --JK Rowling, (Ravenclaw motto)


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Just a Quick Word...

Misty from Think, Wonder, Teach , along with a few of other favorite bloggers, has started a new blog for intermediate grades!  It's called:

The blog is fantastic.  There is a page for each grade level, which makes it even more appealing (not to mention the awesome blog template!).  Check it out!!!

you are not seeing things...

I have indeed changed my blog template.  ::sigh::

I know the other one was "school" looking, but when I initially picked it out, I didn't realize how much I would love this "blogging thing".  I feel like the new one is more ME.  My personal blog reflects our family "view", so I thought my school/professional one should reflect how I want my students to feel...comfortable, relaxed, welcomed, like a home...

I hope it makes you feel comfy as well.  Now, you know a little more about me!  

However, my "gift" for my birthday in September will be a just-for-me blog design.  I figure that will be about six months of blogging.  I just can't see spending $100-plus on a design as a brand new blogger...not yet, anyway!!!  Six months is enough time to get good and comfortable with what I'm doing here!!

(NO, there wasn't a Harry Potter one....I would've snagged that in a heartbeat!)

Have a great Saturday night!!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Most. Fun. Ever.

My title sums up my day! I had a FANTASTIC day with my quarters!!! We had "The Writing Games"!!!!!!  I would love to know your thoughts about our day!

(Disclaimer:  Please ignore the brown butcher paper hanging on my walls.  We have our state tests in writing next Tuesday and Wednesday, so I had to take my anchor charts down and cover up things on the walls. Hahahaha! I still have more to do on Monday!)

I cannot begin to explain how wonderful my quarters did and how much they loved it!  I did, too!  So, I've decided to tell you about pictures!
The quarters were greeted by this poster letting them know today was the day!!  We started off discussing the book.  I gave them a "back of the book" summary and told them that I HOPE they read the book first, before they see the movie.  (A teacher can dream, can't she???)  Next year, I will DEFINITELY introduce the book before STAAR Writing!  We then watched the trailer on IMDB.

I talked to them about key terms used in the series.  We used these terms during our games, too!  Then...we had our REAPING!!!  Each quarter wrote their name on the back of a ticket.  I drew one name at a time, announced them (extravagantly), and assigned them a district.  Our desks were already set up in groups of 4, so I named 5 districts.
I then told them what the saying/quote (below) from the books meant for us and what it meant to the Tributes in the book.
Some of my girls were so into this!! They held hands while I called out the Tributes!!! So awesome!!!
 Then, (dun dun dundun) the game began!!!!!  This is District 2 playing "Kaboom Writing"!
District 5, also playing "Kaboom Writing"!
 Quarters were allowed to write on the desks with dry erase markers!  Tissues helped them erase!!! District 1...
District 3 and 4 played "Go Fish--Parts of Speech"!
I llloooooovvvvveeeeedddd it when quarters or answer monitors went to the Word Wall to check answers!!!!!  The monitors took their jobs seriously!!!
After several rotations, the winners of each round had a "Spin Off" to the death (figuratively, of course!).  They used the spinners that they made and decorated at the beginning of the week!
We ended the games with two teams competing in a game of  "ZAP!" MiMi from 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules! listed this game on her blog a couple of days ago and I stole borrowed it.  The kids LOVE it!!

The team with the win challenged members of the losing team to spin-offs!  The winners in each class (AM/PM) were the quarters with the most spinners collected!  I also gave a small prize to one girl Tribute and one boy Tribute!

While we were playing "The Writing Games", our 5th graders (by TOTAL coincidence) were finishing up their Olympics in the library.  They had a parade throughout the hallways to celebrate.  So our 4th graders lined the hallway to cheer them on!  It added to our theme because I correlated their parade to the parade of Tributes in The Hunger Games! I could not have asked for a better day!!!!

They had such a good time and so did I.  And it was such a great way to review!  I can rest tonight, knowing that I've done all that I can!  I love teaching!

As a special treat, my Megan came to visit my classroom during the games!  She met my students and had a chance to see what some of 4th grade is about.  Of course, my kids loved her.

I close with a quote from one of my favorite authors.  It's not a Hunger Games quote, because I couldn't find anything on my quote list that fit how I felt about today.  But my students realize every day how much I love books, and if I hadn't read The Hunger Games series, then our games today would never have happened.

“I don't believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”
― JK Rowling

I agree, Jo, one hundred percent...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Let the Games Begin!

No...I am NOT in line for the midnight showing of "The Hunger Games".  While I have read the series and I am indeed a huge's not Potter.  Those who know me well, know what I mean by that.  I will go see the movie in a couple of weeks, when the crowds calm down.  But, like the "Twilight Saga", I don't wish to sit in a crowded theater with a bunch of excited, screaming teens!  I appreciate the fact that they have read the books, but I prefer to watch my movies with geeks! haha!

I'm excited for our games tomorrow.  It will be a fun, relaxed learning day for the kids.  I created a poster for "The Writing Games" (which I think is uber cool), as well as "district" cards.    I'm going to have students put their names on tickets and I will pull tickets to assign the tributes to their district.

Now, I know some of you are saying, "Tammy, why are you doing this without reading them the text first?".  Well, I know (for a fact) that many of my students will go see the movie this weekend.  Some of them are probably sitting in the theater waiting for the midnight showing as I type this. --That's a topic for another day.--  I feel like I can make a connection with them, so that when we read the book in May, they will have a little background knowledge based on classroom activities.  And they seem excited!  I can't wait to post the pictures!

On another note, I have far surpassed my expectations where followers are concerned!  I passed 50 without any type of giveaway!  All of these wonderful linky parties have certainly helped us all!  I plan to have a giveaway at 100 followers, but I have a problem...I put any ideas I have in my Free Printables section.  I don't have a TPT or TN store.  I don't create digital graphics.  So....

I may have to do some kind of gift card???  I'll need to think about it...I have a way to go to reach 100!

 “A spark could be enough to set them ablaze.”
Catching Fire (Hunger Games Book2)


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Day Like Any Other...

 You know, today was a good day.  Nothing special happened.  My quarters didn't do poorly on our STAAR prep activities. (They didn't exactly do well, either.)  But it was a drama-less day and that's saying something...

Yesterday, we reviewed "CUPS" for the editing part of writing.  Today, we reviewed "ARMS"--add, remove, move, or substitute-- for the revising portion of writing.  Here is our anchor chart:

Not very "decorative", I know...but I'm way past cute at this point.  I only have  2 more school days to remind my students of all of the things they have learned (but, in some cases, forgot).  All of a sudden, I feel like I haven't done enough to prepare them!! I hate the "testing feeling".

Oh...yeah...our state assessment for writing is next Tuesday, which is technically 3 school days away,  bbuuuutttttt...

I lose one day of review because my ESL quarters from both classes, (26 of them, to be exact) have to take the TELPAS Online Reading tomorrow for four hours.  Geez, Texas...test much???????

...I need to stop the rant before I get started...

As  I've blogged before, I am using some new game ideas to help my quarters review for STAAR writing.  One of the games I taught them is called "Kaboom!"  It is a game created by MiMi at 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules .  I downloaded it for free from her TPT store.  I actually downloaded "Kaboom--Oceanography".  I don't teach Science but I thought the game was fantabulous!  So, I changed the questions and changed it to "Kaboom--Writing".  With MiMi's encouragement, I have downloaded my writing version of her "Kaboom" on to my Free Printables page if you are interested!

On Friday, we are going to have "The Writing Games".  I've called them that, in honor of The Hunger Games. Don't worry, they aren't writing to the death.  But I will incorporate things, such as "May the odds be ever in your favor!"  I have not read the book to my quarters, but plan to at the end of the year.  However, I have no doubt that many of them will see the movie this weekend.  I love the book and I wish I had time to read it to them before the movie,  but alas...  I hope to have more info and pics this weekend.

In the spirit of the games, I will stray from Potter...

“Scores only matter if they’re very good, no one pays much attention to the bad or mediocre ones.”
-Portia, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Well, that's not entirely true...

 Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Little Love and A Spin Class...

 I can't believe it's only Tuesday!  It really seems like a my mind, anyway.

I have been blessed with a "One Lovely Blog Award" by an amazing new blogger, Jillian at Jillian's Just Tinkerin' Around .  (Isn't that a neat blog name??)
 I feel extremely honored and I have enjoyed the linky parties that have joined us bloggers together!  I'm approaching one month of blogging and I feel like I've been doing it for months!  It's so much fun!

As a recipient of this award, it is my duty to pass it on to my fellow bloggers.  Here are the rules:

1.  Link back to the blogger who awarded it....(check)
2.  Follow the blogger who sent it to you...(check, check)
3.  Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers...( we go!)

I have found and followed so many awesome blogs, but I have several that I check daily.  I know that many of them have already received this award, but I feel like I can't skip over them...they have inspired me in both my teaching and blogging!  So here they are, in no particular order:

1.   Misty at Think, Wonder, Teach  (I absolutely love her book recommendations!)
2.  MiMi at 5th Grade Rocks, 5th Grade Rules!  (Her games are fantastic!)
3.  Lindsay at My Life as a 5th Grade Teacher  (Her blog inspired me to start!)
4.  Kim at Finding JOY in 6th Grade (She went crazy for Pi!)
5.  Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B (I totally get her "tip-toeing" into Balanced Literacy!)
6.  Heather at Beg, Borrow, and Teach (Her freebies have me hooked!)
7.  Miss Rowley at Peace, Love, and No. 2 Pencils (She's a newbie with promise!)
8.  Jessica at Dandelions and Dragonflies (I'm so waiting for a grading fairy at my house, too!)
9.  Heather at Heather's Heart (She helps me remember my first grade roots!)
10.  Rayann and Tiffany at The Lemonade Stand (Their ideas are inspirational!)
11.  Sally at     The Fearless 5th Grade Teacher  (The "Fearless" Declutterer!)
12.  Amy at The Resource(ful) Room  (Mad respect!)
13.  Kaitlin at Beyond Teaching  (Creativity is key here!)
14.  Terri at The Creative Apple  (Love, love, love the privilege jar!)
15.  Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher  (Excellent resources!)

So, there it is.  Check out these won't regret it!!

Ok...the spin class...

All of you "exercise junkies" can go ahead and log out.  It's not that kind of spin class! Ha ha!  Oh, and political experts can log out as well!  I'm talking about the infamous "Spinners" students create every year!

Before spring break, my students taught me how to make them.  I wanted to incorporate them into a game somehow.  I was trying to brainstorm ideas, when my son enlightened me on how spinners are played. (Obviously, at my age, I'm out of the 19 year old son, however, remembers well!  Guess I know what he did during elementary school...)

Here are the "regular" rules:  Two students spin their homemade spinners.  The one that lasts the longest wins.  It's that simple.  (That's why I have confiscated 8,000 spinners from one quarter. And  I owe my quarters from last year an apology....I always accused them of making ALL of them during class...)

Anywho, today I had all of my quarters make one spinner.  My partner teacher and I combined both classes for 30 minutes so I wouldn't have to waste time doing this!  Shout out to Morvessa!  On Friday, we are going to play "The Writing Games".  Spinners are the prize!  After they compete, the winner of the game at the time gets to challenge another quarter to a spin-off!  The top spinner collector wins a big prize! My quarters took their spinners home to decorate them and make them more "spinable".  If they lose them or get them taken up by another teacher...too bad.  They are out of "The Writing Games".   Here they are practicing:

They seem extremely excited!  I hope that tying in something they love to do with writing games
on Friday, may boost their attention levels and retention!  (Hey, at this point, I'll try just about anything!!)

Before I leave, I want to share our editing review chart we did today.  When the quarters write their expository or narrative essays, one of their jobs is to edit.  We use "CUPS"...capitalization, usage, punctuation, and spelling.  It's extremely important that they use their CUPS on their sloppy copy.
I was really happy to hear them give me instances of what they should look for in their writing!  Good day, my friends, good day indeed...

I leave you with another quote...(yes, yes, there are 7 books...I have lots to quote!)

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” --JK Rowling

We just need to show the quarters how to use it!

Glitter Words
[ - *Glitter Words*]