Tar-jay Scores

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our four year anniversary. Boy, did four years fly by! When we first got married, I was about to become a substitute teacher due to a lack of jobs available and he was working as a secretary at a huge PT practice. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come since then! Now I have my own classroom and he is now a PT himself, no longer just a secretary! We have been incredibly blessed and I look forward to seeing where we are at this time next year 🙂 PS: He surprised me with a DELICIOUS dinner at The Melting Pot, this super cool fondue place in Station Square – oh my goodness, it was so so good!

Anyways, today I decided to check out the sales at Target. I knew this could be a dangerous thing because I rarely leave that store spending less than $50!! But I love back-to-school shopping, so out I went.

Here’s what I got today:

Guess what my total was??

$49.91!! Not bad, right? Granted, I did buy a few other things for home…but my goal was to keep school stuff under $50 and I just barely succeeded!

So this stuff is for my prize bin at school. My bin had been getting pretty empty and most of the “good” stuff is gone after last year. I love the dollar spot at Target which is where I got all of this stuff!

This stuff is mostly for me! I had a coupon for the PaperMate pens, I needed some new pencils, one of the RoseArt boxes of markers will go in my marker bin (all of our red markers were gone by the end of the year, so I knew I needed to restock) and the other box is for me, and we go through glue sticks like crazy, especially once we get into lapbooking! I always like to keep some in my desk, away from the students 🙂 Everything here was on sale – score!

I ran out of construction paper at the end of the year, so I was pleased when I saw it was on sale – I got four packs (with 96 sheets each) for $4 when it would have normally been $7.96 for all four! I give my kiddos folders for each unit topic that we study, so I was able to pick up four dozen folders (I have 11 in my class this year) for 17 cents each…definitely not a bad deal.

Not sure what I will use these bins for, but they were too cute to pass up! Any ideas??

I liked these bins too – they match the smaller ones but are quite a bit bigger and will hold my Language Arts center materials much better than my current bins do.

(Please excuse the zombie sign in the background…haha)

If you look closely at the last picture, you’ll also see my enVision math box in the background. We just received this new curriculum and I have been busy checking it out and determining the best way to use it in my classroom. If you use enVision, I’d LOVE to hear from you!!

Have you hit any back-to-school sales yet?? What did you score? Anywhere you recommend checking out??

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March Madness!

Growing up, I was never really into basketball. I was terrible at playing it, my city doesn’t have a team (Pittsburgh has everything else, but no basketball!), and the only college in Pittsburgh that could have been good (Pitt) wasn’t.

That all changed when I went to college and saw the hype over March Madness every year!

Many of my new friends came from tried and true college towns, such as Columbus, Lexington, or Charlotte, whose teams consistently made it into the tournament. I thought it was crazy that they treated their college teams like Pittsburgh does with the Steelers – and if you’re from Pittsburgh, you know exactly what I mean! The thought of basketball being so huge was foreign to me, but after watching the games and getting caught up in all of the excitement, I am now hooked.

It became even more exciting last year when Pitt was a #1 seed! In addition to being a Pitt fan, my BFF got me rooting for Kentucky – the #1 overall seed this year and an amazing team. We attended a game last month at Rupp Arena and it was UNREAL. Seriously. If you have never been to a college basketball game at a large school with a good team, I highly suggest you go. The players ran into the arena with fireworks shooting overhead – in an indoor arena! Crazy.

Anyways, all that being said, I am now a huge college basketball fan and love this time of year, so I really wanted to do something fun with March Madness in my classroom. During the month of March, our whole school studies one country – this year we’re learning about China – so rather than each individual teacher planning her own unit, we each teach a lesson to the whole school. This leaves many afternoons open for other activities. I was excited to do some March Madness activities because it would tie in math, geography, reading, writing, and research skills!

To start our our March Madness unit, I explained what March Madness was and how seeding worked. Each student was given a bracket to fill out in order to predict who would win each game, all the way to the championship. They also predicted a score for the championship game, just in case of a tie 🙂 We mounted their brackets on construction paper and hung them up in the room. Every day after games are played, I update their bracket by either crossing out the team if they guessed incorrectly or drawing a star if it was correct. Each round is also worth 32 points – for example, in the first round when there were a possible of 32 predictions, each game guessed correctly was worth 1 point. In the second round with only 16 possible predictions, each game was worth 2 points. The third round games were worth 4 points, and so on, each time totaling 32. I write their totals on the board so that they can keep track of who is in the lead. I also include their totals for each round on a chart that is posted above our brackets.

Whew – sorry that was a long paragraph! Here is one of my student’s brackets right now:

Here are all 14 brackets:

After we filled out our brackets, each student was given a list of all 64 teams in the tournament, their wins-losses for the season, and a blank. They paired up with a friend to calculate the winning percentages of each team. We then looked at which teams had the highest and the lowest. They were allowed to make changes to their bracket based on this information – and several of them wanted to 🙂

Here’s my copy (it’s a mess b/c we wrote lots of other stuff on it too!):

Once all of the students had done this, we next discussed what state each team comes from. They wrote the state name or abbreviation next to the team on their percentages page. Next they determine how many teams were from each state. We found out that the state with the most teams in the tourney (5) was North Carolina! (One thing I emphasized was the fact that the teams in the tournament are not the states’ only teams! They seemed to think that because Hawaii has no teams in the tournament, it means they have no teams at all…so we talked about how these are the best of the best!)

Each student received a map of the U.S. while I had a larger one hung on the board. We then filled in each state with a different color based on how many teams that state has in the tournament. For example, NC has 5 teams so we colored it orange; KY, OH, NY, and CA each have 4 teams so we colored them purple; etc, creating a key in the corner of the map.

Here is a student-colored map…

…and mine on the board:

Once we colored our whole map, we determined the fraction and percentage of states with 5 teams, 4 teams, and so on. We also looked at the distribution of teams, noticing that the majority of states with teams are in the eastern part of the country. We discussed why this might be.

Our next task involved each student choosing a team they were interested in learning more about. I created an information page for the students to fill out while doing research about their team. It involves everything from basic information, such as the team’s mascot, colors, and coach, to more detailed, such as the heights of each player and their field goal percentages (and looking to see if there is a correlation between the 2!). I found some websites for the students to use while conducting their research and set them off on their own.

Update: I have since uploaded the team research fact page I created to TpT – check it out! http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/NCAA-March-Madness-Basketball-Tournament-Team-Research

Now, I only have access to 6 or 7 computers in my room and the 4th grade room next door, so I created something for the rest of the students to work on while the other half was doing their research. I compiled a list of all of the Rounds 1 and 2 games that had been played and recorded the final score, as well as in what city the game was played. The students answered 13 questions about these games, including what games had the highest and lowest total points scored, what games had the highest and lowest points scored by a winning team, how many upsets there had been, which teams traveled the farthest/least far to play their first round game, and which two teams that played each other are farthest from/closest to each other geographically. They were allowed to use a calculator and an atlas to help with these questions.

So what do you think?! This is what we have done so far; I am hoping to have each student present the information learned about their researched team, but I am trying to figure out a creative yet simple way to do so. Maybe a poster?

There will also be a prize for the student who receives the most points based on his/her bracket. Right now one of my three girls is in first place! I think the boys were a bit shocked by that…haha. I was quite proud 🙂

It’s been fun to see the students come in each day to check out their updated brackets and see how they did. I think many of them are watching the games at home too, because they like to ask if I watched a particular game and if I “can believe that they won?!” or some comment like it.

This has been an exciting way to keep our March busy and fun, and thankfully the students are enjoying it too!!

A Day in My Shoes

Today I’m linking up with “Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher” so that you can learn about a day in my shoes!

Now, as is the case with most of you, each day is a little different due to specials and other fun activities. But here’s a glimpse into a normal day:

*6:00 – alarm goes off on my clock. SNOOZE!

*6:07 – alarm goes off on my phone. SNOOZE! (continue snoozing both alarms until 6:30…I do not enjoy getting out of bed in the mornings…haha)

*6:30-7:00 – get ready.

I shower, get dressed (I always pick out my outfit the night before – this saves me SO much time in the mornings!), do makeup, sometimes hair (sometimes I spend time on this, though lately with my hair getting so long, I have been sticking up in a ponytail or messy bun), make sure I have everything (keys, cellphone, laptop, etc.), and get out the door!

*7:00-7:25ish – drive to school.

It used to take between 15-20 minutes to get to work, however they are doing construction on the main route, so I am going a different way that is longer and has more traffic. Oh well – I enjoy listening to the morning radio shows and thinking about what I need to do when I get to school.

*7:25ish-7:40 – relax.

I usually spend the first 10-15 minutes at school checking my email, Google Reader, and Facebook (we don’t actually have to be at school until 8:00) while eating breakfast at my desk – usually cereal.

*7:40-8:30 – prepare for the day.

This involves writing their morning work on the board (usually a review worksheet, cursive practice, silent reading, reciting Memory Marathon verses, or re-reading a story with a partner), making copies that are needed, and mentally preparing for the day! Every Tuesday morning, the staff meets for prayer before the students arrive.

*8:30-9:00 – students arrive.

The students begin arriving at 8:30 and come anytime between then and 8:45. They do a great job of coming in quietly and getting their morning work done, although sometimes it takes a bit of prompting 🙂 I send a student around with our attendance clipboard at 8:45, and morning announcements over the walkie-talkies happen around 9:00.

*9:00-9:30 – devotions

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, my students and I journey through the Old Testament together. We learn about the Godly men and women and talk about how we can apply what we learn to our lives today. We also do prayer requests and I have a student pray for the class. On Thursdays, the whole school comes together for All School Worship. We sing a song or two, then one of my student’s dads does a short devotion for the school.

*9:30-10:15 – math

Four of my students go to 6th grade for math, one student takes 7th grade math later in the day (taught by the 6th grade teacher since we only go up to 6th grade), so I am left with 8 out of my 13 for math.  We start every math class by going over the previous night’s HW and answering any questions they may have. During the lesson for the day, the students take notes in their math notebook. We do lots of examples problems together, then the students do some independent work, either in their notebook or on a mini white board. Homework gets passed out at the end of class which students must write down in their HW planner.

*10:15-10:30 – snack

The students bring a healthy snack every day to enjoy during this time. They can socialize, play games, and just hang out for these 15 minutes.

*10:30-11:30 – Language Arts

This is my first year teaching English, writing, and spelling, so it has been interesting trying to work out a fairly consistent schedule. We usually do an English lesson until around 10:50, then work on our writing assignment until 11:30. This often changes based on the day; for example, spelling pretests/final tests are given every Monday/Friday at 10:30. Sometimes I do a writing mini-lesson before they begin to work. We are about to begin our next writing assignment on persuasive essays, so tomorrow I will spend a good bit of writing workshop time introducing this to the class and reading some samples together. I also throw in some computer instruction during this time every once in a while.

*11:30-12:15 – reading

We use Harcourt Story Town for our reading curriculum. Every day’s reading instruction is different! On Mondays, I introduce the vocabulary words and we discuss some background information needed for the story. On Tuesdays, the students do Literacy Centers which I created. There are 12 centers to choose from and they must pick a different one each week. Maybe I’ll do a post on these in the near future 🙂 On Wednesdays, we read the story for the week and discuss. On Thursdays, we discuss the literary element (theme, conflicts, point of view, or whatever I am focusing on with that story). On Fridays, the students complete a quiz on comprehension of the story, its vocabulary, and the literary element we discussed. We also read a novel each month relating to the unit we study (ex: Sign of the Beaver was our novel for Colonial America), so we spend some of this time reading and discussing the novel.

*12:20-1:00 – lunch/recess

The students have lunch for 20 mins and recess in the gym for 20 mins. I am thankful to teach at a school where teachers are not required to do lunch/recess duty! We have parent volunteers in those positions 🙂 This time always FLIES by…

*1:00-1:30 – silent reading

This is the time of day devoted to silent reading. We use Accelerated Reader so the kids are encouraged to complete quizzes for each book they read. I have given them each a goal of points they must acquire by reading books and taking quizzes. There is no punishment for not reaching their goal, however they will be rewarded if they do so 🙂

*1:30-3:00 – unit

We spend the majority of the afternoon on unit instruction. Every month each grade focuses on a different topic. This month, we are studying electricity and magnetism. Therefore, the bulk of our afternoon is learning about this topic. I love using PowerPoint, so most of my instruction is through PP presentations. Sometimes I have the students fill out a notes page I have created while we are going through the PowerPoint. Sometimes we read books together that teach us more about the topic. Two of the months we create a lapbook – one of my favorite teaching tools! This month involves a lot of experiments involving static electricity, batteries, magnetism, circuits, and other electricity-related topics. Each month the students complete a project that correlates to the unit. For example, this month they are each planning an electricity experiment to present to the class. They will fill out a form that talks us through their experiment; they will also type up a summary of what they learned, and then present the experiment and their findings to the class. Next month, we will be studying Western Europe, so each student will be assigned a different country that they must research and teach the class about. This allows for a lot of creativity because they can teach the class however they would like – through PowerPoint, brochures, posters, books, etc. This is my favorite time of day – the students are always excited about what we are learning! Several days a week we have specials (gym and Spanish) in the afternoon but we always work around those.

*3:00-3:10 – pack up

The students make sure they have all HW assignments written in their planners, they pack up, and I walk them down to bus dismissal.

*3:10-4:00 – lesson plan/prep work

We are allowed to leave around 4:00, so until then I usually prepare for the next day. I try and leave right around 4:00 to avoid traffic on the way home, although I tutor on Mondays until 4:15 and we have staff meetings on Thursdays until 4:15 or 4:30.

*4:00-10:00 – enjoy being home!

I spend this time with the hubs (who is currently preparing to start his LAST clinical before he graduates as a Doctor of Physical Therapy in May! Yahoo!) just hanging out, watching shows we missed the night before, playing volleyball at a local church on Tuesdays, hanging out with my BFFL who lives upstairs from us, eating dinner that one of us (or both of us!) has prepared, reading, and just relaxing! This is my absolute favorite part of my day…as much as I love my kiddos at school, I love being home with my husband even more 🙂

*10:00ish – bedtime

I try and go to bed around 10, although I’m often not very tired so I usually end up reading for a while in bed.

 

So that’s what my days are usually like! Busy busy busy but there is always something fun going on. I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone else’s days too!