Monday, August 25, 2014

Whew!!!! We made it!

Last week, our county finished its first week of school.  It was a whirl wind but enjoyed getting to know my students.  This year is the first year I have taught 5th grade, so getting my feet planted and ready to grow is what I have been striving to do. Last week we did lots of getting to know you activities.  I think my favorite is the Human Dictionary.  I was so blessed to have a teammate share this activity with me last year, but time seemed to get away from tried it this year!!!

The Human Dictionary is a great way to introduce dictionary skills, parts of speech (such as adjectives, nouns, verbs) and the ins and outs to a defintion.  First, students looks up their first and last name for pronunciation (write the first and last name the way it is pronounced).  Then, places a "n" for noun.  Finally, has to define themselves (have students write two yo three sentences about themselves). What do they love, makes them smile, or hld dear to their hearts.  Afterwards, students share their definition of who they are.  It was really neat.  The definitions are going to be a part of my OPEN HOUSE bulletin board.  I will show pictures of the finished products.  My finish it by then end of the week.

What "getting to know you" activities do you enjoying doing with your class?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dice.......and blocks........and protractors....OH MY!

This year is going to be fun.....not only a new curriculum (I moved from 4th to 5th) but also a new math series.  It seemed like yesterday when we were introduced to enVision math.  Now, its something different. Honestly, I couldn't tell you.  All I know....more math manipulatives. 

Yesterday in our staff meeting, we had a team of teachers talking about what our math block should look like and sharing some great ideas regarding math manipulatives.  One of our fabulous 1st grade teachers shared with us a great idea in giving students the responsibility in figuring out what manipulative was going to serve most useful in achieving success within a problem.  Are you ready?  

In the beginning of the year, she gave a small basket of one type of manipulative to the class.  For me (teaching 5th grade), I would give each team a different small basket of math manipulatives to complete the activity.  As a class, the students would come up with various reasons why that manipulative would be useful.  For example, in the team meeting, she gave our tables various shapes.  As a team, we came up with finding real life objects that looked like an octagon, fractions - equivalent, creating a tessellation, adding and subtracting, patterns, identifying colors and so on. After our team shared, we would share with the entire staff (or in your case, the teams/students would come together and share what they came up with).  This gave us a new perspective in how we viewed a math manipulative.  I was really blown away with all the great ideas one math manipulative can do to help a student. 

The 1st grade teacher continues to share.................after introducing the various math manipulatives, she would give the students an expectation and lots and lots of practice and positive reinforcement in how to pick the correct manipulative and take what is needed, leaving behind for others to use.  Now........this was brilliant and so simple.  Using a small basket (can find in dollar stores or $1 area at Target), students would go to the math manipulative area, take what he/she needed, put back the remaining manipulative and head back to their work station.  When the student was finished working with the manipulative, he/she would put back what was used and finish cleaning up or go to the next activity.   How simple!!!!

As I looked around my room this morning, I realized that I had my math manipulatives out but never really introduced many of them to the students.  At that moment.....I felt horrible.  I took a picture to share with you how I showcase my math manipulatives and this year.....completing the previously mentioned activity.  Super excited!!  How do you showcase your math manipulatives and which manipulatives are a MUST in your classroom?

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's back to school for me!

Today, is my husband's favorite time of the year.......the sound of MY alarm going off and his excitement for ME tugging myself out of bed and beginning the day before the sun greets us with its warm smile.  Well.....I did it!! Luckily today is the an optional pre-planning day, so my brain didn't have to function completely. 

Even though today was the first day of pre-planning for my county, my boys (ages of 6 and 4) and I were in my classroom on Thursday, moving all of my stuff from one classroom to the next.  I was impressed!  The three of us moved my ENTIRE classroom in 4 hours!    The best part....I never even packed up a thing.  We literally moved everything the way it was and moved into the middle of my new classroom.  It was the next day that extra adult hands were super helpful.  While my boys were coloring and greeting teachers from various places of the school, my dear friend took down my bulletin boards from my previous classroom to my new classroom.  She was an angel.  As she was putting together my bulletin boards, I organized my classroom.  So today was really just an easy day, coming back and really thinking about what my goal is for my 5th graders and how am I going to achieve it. 

Here is my classroom so particular theme...just lots of color!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Getting motivated!

I can't believe we have said hello to the month of August!! This summer has been full of adventure and my little ones and I are still going strong.  However, next week I get to meet up with my team AND move all of my stuff into a different classroom.  Good news.....truly blessed with the friends that volunteered their help. Will make moving and organizing so much easier.   There is so much to do, getting ready for my new class and their families.  However, my motivation and heart is with my little ones still.  What to you do to get yourself motivated to start gearing up for the new year?

For those of you wonderful teachers starting back....enjoy the beginning of your year.  For those of you still celebrating summer....enjoy every minute of it!!


Heather Watson

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Second time is the charm! the summer sun disappears and the "cotton ball" clouds roll in, I sit and wonder what next year is going to be like.  As of this morning, I was teaching 4th grade and debating on what read aloud I would be sharing with my upcoming rascals.  Suddenly....."Ring! Ring!" My youngest jellybean picks up the phone and hands it to me.  I "accept" the call and hear a familiar principal.  My boys saw a lot of nodding and smiling and heard numerous "yippees" and "I'm so excited".  After my phone call, my oldest (who is 6 years old but thinks he is the man of the house while Daddy is at work) asked me what I was so excited about......"Well.....after 10 years of teaching 3rd and 4th grade, Mommy finally gets to move up to 5th grade."  My youngest jellybean was so proud that I could "grow up" like his older brother and move to a different grade.  After all the excitement, my boys went back to their coloring and I.....well my wheels began to turn. 

I am so excited about this year's adventure.  Not only am I in a new grade, but a new curriculum and a new team!  Last year, our administration wanted each teacher to show what they have been up to within their classrooms.  I did a lot of writing...journal it notes and loosing my mind at times, trying to keep track of all that I did.  So I thought, what a better way to show what I have been doing and how I have been growing as a teacher, then to start a blog....again!  

I am excited to learn to new ideas from you and share you some of the fun we are having throughout the days.  As I "grow up" with my own children, I realize that kids of all ages still need to finger paint, play with dough and peel the glue off of your hands while still learning the age appropriate standards.  Too much of the fun has been lost in learning and in teaching.  

Here's to a new year and a ton of color!!

Heather Watson