Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lesson Plans, Finals, and Graduation Week

In just a few days I will be in possession of an undergraduate degree! I am so excited, but sad to leave my school behind. We already had Convocation, and now have finals this week and graduation next weekend. But to get to graduation I have to first take finals! I am having trouble finding motivation to get work done. I already have a job and am doing well in all my classes, so even failing the finals I would still have passing grades.

One of my final projects this semester is to adapt a lesson plan to accommodate ELL students. We had to choose a pre-written lesson plan and add to it what different levels of ELL students would need. Having worked in Texas public schools, I was familiar with CSCOPE, but also with many teacher's distain for it. My professor suggested checking out a website called Read Write Think. I spent hours on it looking at lesson plans! Great lessons, all are TEKS/Common Core aligned.

I wanted to chose a lesson that I could use next year, so I looked for second grade lessons. There were so many! The one I ended up picking taught some economic vocabulary using Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique  

An adorable book and a cute lesson to lean some difficult words. I modified the lesson some to accommodate for ELLs and to add a spiral station work, but other than that it was a wonderful lesson as is. I know I will continue to reference this in the future!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted: Teacher Questions

I love LaToya's "Let's Get Acquainted" linky party because it gives teachers a chance to share their hearts and provides a "face" behind the blogger. It is fun to get to know the amazing teachers behind my favorite blogs. 

1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?
Although I was in denial for most of my childhood, I have always wanted to be a teacher. Even as a young kid I was always trying to teach people things. My younger sister says that I will make a good teacher because I am bossy. That is an accusation I can neither confirm nor deny. I more officially decided in high school when I started working with primary grade students in a summer camp. 

2. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?
I haven't had my first class yet, but my classroom observations and student teaching have been so rewarding. During student teaching we were working on times tables with the fourth graders and I had one student that just could not get past her two times tables. I worked with her individually and realized that she didn't understand the concept of multiplication! After about 45 minutes with her, and she finally got it! It was wonderful to see the light-bulb go off in her head and for her to enjoy math. 

3. If you were not a teacher, what would you be?
If I wasn't a teacher I would have to decide between being a baker or a costume designer. I have always loved baking and would enjoy owning a bakery (except for that early morning part). Throughout college I have worked at a costume shop making clothes for campus productions. I also worked backstage. If I wasn't moving to Tennessee, I would be working for Dallas Shakespeare Festival as a dresser this summer! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It is teacher appreciation week! Time for people around the country to take a moment and think just how difficult a teacher's job is. If nothing else, other teachers are appreciating each other. That means a sale at TPT! I have been pouring over the site since I found out what grade I would be teaching. Downloading free files gave me a lot of great ideas, but I had not purchased anything yet. Why not make my first time to purchase a sale!

My first though was that I need to buy some things from the first teaching blog I ever read/followed, the incredible Clutter Free Classroom. Since I will be a first year teacher, my plan is to start with an organized and clutter free class with her help!  
TEACHING PROCEDURES & ROUTINES {Blackline Design} classroo


I bought the Classroom Procedures to help me figure out how to organize what my expectations will be! I would love to incorporate some (or all) or Whole Brain Teaching, but I also need to align with the school expectation. 
My favorite idea I have seen probably in all of blogger world is the Find it/Fix it. When I read the blog post I knew I was going to use it in my class.  A way to have the room clean at the end of the day and no need for a class job chart? Yes please! 

Next, I went over to the shop of my favorite 2nd grade blog, Sunny Days in Second Grade. I have read this blog beginning to end, and am so encouraged by it. I have seen so many veteran teachers just bemoan what is happening in education, so it is great to hear from someone that is viewing the world in a positive light! 
Tasty Tuesday Yearlong Writing Program

This is another one I cannot wait to introduce! Being able to integrate writing and math in a real-world and kid loved way is hard, but not when you add dessert into the mix. Tasty Tuesday does a great job with her kids, and I am sure mine will love it to! What kid doesn't enjoy making (and eating) dessert?! 

I'm still poking around TPT and may buy something else today. I am grateful to my own teachers, and to all teachers that make a daily difference in the lives of students everywhere! 

Monday, May 6, 2013


I discovered the blog In That Room recently, and have been reading it late into the night. She writes with humor and honesty, and I enjoy seeing how she runs her tech-savy class. Recently she posted this story, and I had to pass it along! When you put this high stakes testing in any other context, it sounds crazy. I am not anti-accountability or even testing, but this high stress and pressure test is not the answer for creating a better school system.

The Pigs and the Scale
By Brent Beasley

The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better. 

He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn’t weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough. 

The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was. All the while, the pigs weren’t getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker.

So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs. One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating,” the farmer said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast. 

But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn’t weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn’t like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren’t being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet, and wait. 

After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren’t going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter. But the pigs didn’t believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Interactive Story Starters

The end of school is getting closer by the day! Only one paper, two presentations, and three finals stand in my way! The countdown helps me to stay more focused, at least in theory.

I was subbing for a third grade class today and learned about the coolest story starters from Scholastic! (click on the picture for a link!)

We pulled it up on the smart board in the class so it could be interactive. When you select which type of story prompt you want, it then asks you to select a grade for the prompt (K-1, 2, 3, and 4-6). There are four different types of story starters, but today the kids picked adventure. When you open the page you can either have one student pull the lever or have four each come up and push the buttons at the bottom. I have four students high on the clip chart, so I let them each spin a wheel. 

Here is a picture of our prompt for today. They though it was so much fun! 

A sample prompt from the fantasy category. 

My personal favorite, questions to a space dog! 

In the class I was subbing for they have 20 minutes between lunch and specials time. Such an awkward gap! But this interactive story starter got everyone involved and excited to write. I love that the prompts are not just stories, but descriptions, lists, questions, and more! It is a great way to get their little brains thinking. 

This is a website that now has a spot in my bag of tricks. There is also a link for teacher resources. Gotta love Scholastic! 


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Currently May

I can't believe it is already May! This semester has flown by. I only have three days of classes and three finals standing between me and graduation. I start this month an undergrad student in Texas and will end it a graduate student in Tennessee! Although change is coming at me fast, I am excited to see what the next few years bring! With a new month comes a new Currently from Oh' Boy 4th Grade. I love her style and attitude!

Ever since the beginning of last summer when I studied for a month in Colorado I have been listening to country music. I have had periods of country music in my life before, but this is the longest country kick I have had since I was like 10. When I found out I was going to live in Tennessee after graduation, my country music listening only intensified. My favorite country song right now is Chicken Fried by the Zac Brown Band. Whenever I start my country playlist this song always goes first!  
We have had a pretty cold spring here in Texas, but if finally warmed up in the past week or so. Not that I want it to be in the 90's yet, but 70's-80's would be fine. But today was cold! In the 40's-50's and very windy. I was shocked this morning, but now I am enjoying being wrapped up in a blanket and wearing my favorite hoodie one more time this season. 
I graduate in a few weeks and have to be in Tennessee SEVEN DAYS later. So fast!! I have to pack my apartment, figure out what I will need for a week at my parent's house and pack that separately  and then take everything to TN. No idea how I will make everything fit! I have been saying all semester that it is "future Kate's problem" the only problem that future Kate is coming up quickly! 

My coffee pot bit the dust recently. I either have to beg a cup off of a friend of go to the coffee house on campus. I think I have been there every day this week. It is cheaper than starbucks, but not free. I guess I need an endless supple of money for the coffee! 

Senioritis has hit me really hard in the last few weeks. As I check off things (last philosophy paper, last reading, last debate) I find I have less motivation. And with only a few assignments and finals left, my productivity is not looking good anytime soon. 

Summer Bucket List
1. I have accumulated so many children's books this year! Most I have bought for less than a dollar at Half Price Books (which is the Beatrice to my Dante) or at thrift shops. A few I have from my family. But I have yet to devise any sort of system. I need to at least divide by grade level to know what books to have in my room!
2. I will only be a few hours from Nashville, and I really want to go! I have never been before, but would enjoy listening to some live country music.
3. My semester has been nuts between classes, two part time jobs, and stage managing, and I have not had a single blank day on my calendar this semester. I just want one day where I don't have to do anything at all!

Happy May everyone!

Keep Calm and Just Graduate

Just four more days of classes in my undergraduate career! It still hasn't really hit me how quickly everything is ending. One more week of classes, then a week of finals, then a week at home, then I move to Tennessee! May will be a whirlwind of endings and beginnings, but I am excited for the new opportunities.  I am trying not to see big picture right now and just focus on a few days at a time.
This mantra has been all over campus. It is true, at this point it is important to focus on graduating, but that is hard with so many other things to do!

The biggest time commitment I have right now (yes, over classes) is the show I am stage managing. Senior drama majors at my school have to produce and direct a one act play. For those that don't know, the stage manager is the one that runs everything! From keeping track of what goes on in rehearsal, blocking, lines, design meetings, daily reports and emails, to the actual running of the show when it goes up.
I have enjoyed the experience, just not the immense amount of time it takes each week. We have been in tech and dress for the past two weeks, and the show opens tonight! By Sunday it will be over. I am excited for the show to have an audience! Although I am ready to have my evenings back, I know I will miss the show. I love being involved in theater and know it will be harder to stay active in once I graduate.

One of my favorite parts of spring in Texas is the bluebonnets. There are huge fields of them near campus and they add such a beautiful color to the sometimes drab landscape. When they bloom, you know spring is here! They last for about a month. When they start to die, you know that heat is coming. Well, the bluebonnets are starting to die and we have weather in the upper 80s. Every year I block out how hot it can get here. I think my mind focuses on the good so that I don't hate my state. I am excited to see if weather in Tennessee is any cooler, but based on my weather app I think not. At least my brain is used to helping me forget the hot months!