Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rewind: Peek at My Week!

EXHAUSTED! That is the only adjective I can use to describe my current condition! The past 2 weeks have been crazy! A lot has been happening and I just haven't had a second to sit down and blog about it. So I am doing a blog rewind for my Peek at Last Week!

First up all last week my parents were in town visiting! It was great to spend time with them! I think they had a much better week than I did. As I worked all week they got to sight see, go to some spring training games and just relax.

We are quickly approaching AIMS week ...only 1 week away!! In order to keep them engaged I decided to create AIMS BOOT CAMP!!  AIMS Boot Camp runs until April 11th the final day of AIMS week. Each group needed to come up with team name that had something to do with reading, writing or academics. I posted a AIMS board on my front white board so they can see the leader board at all times. Also, I reserve the right to add or deduct points at any time. This has been a great boost to my classroom management, if there are groups doing a fantastic job I add on 5-10 points and if there is a group that needs a little reminder on behavior expectations I can deduct some points.  I will post more tomorrow on some of my weekly challenges!

Last week were lucky enough to have an author come and speak to our middle school students. Paul Toffanello came in and chatted with the kids about how to become an author and what inspired him to write his newly published novel "Popchucks Ghost". The kids had so many questions and really enjoyed the private reading of the first few chapters of the book. Paul was a middle school teacher and Principal  and he wrote the book to keep his struggling readers engaged.

Here is a quick description of the book:
Boisterous Neil and timid Adam, 12-year-old best friends, head off to Camp McAbre for the first time with distinctively different attitudes. Neil is excited by the thought of several days outdoors with a hundred other kids while Adam hates everything about camp except for the presence of attractive schoolmate Ally. Yet as the days go by, Adam becomes a super camper while Neil is dogged by bad luck that puts him in conflict with the creepy camp director, Charles Atrom. A bit of late night sleuthing leads Adam into a series of abandoned mine tunnels and glimpses of a ghost who may be responsible for Adam's troubles.

Have an amazing week!! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green Party!

No we aren't celebrating St. Patrick's Day in my second period classroom today, we are celebrating a huge accomplishment! In order to understand why we are celebrating you need to understand where we started at the beginning of the school year.

One of the first things we do in August is take the first benchmark assessment. The test is called an IE or Instructional Effectiveness Assessment and it has two purposes. The first is to show us where the kiddos are currently at, with the grade level standards, and the second is the pre-test to assess my effectiveness as a teacher. I told the kids where we started and then we decided as a class where we wanted to be by the next IE. Most students created the goal of increasing by 10% individually by the next test and our class goal was to increase by 10 % so we hoped to be at a 44% by December.  In order to accomplish this I knew we needed to work our behinds off but that if we really worked hard every student would meet their goal.

Here was our starting point : 34%

 Over the summer I asked if I could teach this class a using a core replacement program. The program is called Language! and I am highly impressed with it! We started the year in Book C - the third book of the series. Most of the kids had already started Book B but were ready to advance to the next level.
Each day we worked on a spiral review of everything from reading comprehension skills to spelling to phonemic awareness to grammar skills. Even though the program asks the kids to do some lower level activities like sounding out words or breaking words in to syllables my kiddos did it with a smile on their faces, knowing that with each skill we learned they were getting closer to their goal. Yes, we hit bumps along the way. Some students struggled with behavior or staying the course but over all the kids who started the year with me were starting to really show improvement.

We took the Post IE in December and the kids new that this was one of the BIG tests we would take this year to show the state what we were doing in our small classroom this year. And ...

We actually increased by 17%!! 
As the kids were entering their scores and I sat in the back watching the percentages go up I began to cry. I couldn't help it, knowing how hard they all worked and seeing it pay off was overwhelming. It was one of the best moments of my teaching career so far. For most of these kiddos school is a place where they dread to come, it is hard and exhausting. They are constantly being reminded of how behind they are just by working on grade level assignments.So to see them feel accomplished and to be proud of their work was a Proud Teacher  Moment!

So fast forward to today ....Before spring break we finished Book C and are moving into Book D (The GREEN book) No one at our school site has ever gotten to "The Green Book" as it is a bit more challenging textbook than Book C. The kids have been working so hard and we wanted to celebrate moving into the next book so we are having a GREEN Party today! And it just happened to fall on St. Patrick's Day!

Thanks to our AMAZING intervention specialist for making the cupcakes-- they even were green in the middle!! They were fantastic!!

We have 3 weeks until our state testing begins and I know that ALL my amazing, inspiring, fantastic kiddos will ROCK the TEST!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Five for Friday

I signed up for my first TpT conference! I am soooo excited!! I love Las Vegas and I have been dieing to stay at the Venetian for the past few years.CAN'T WAIT!! Are you planning on going to this years conference?

Since I have been on spring break I have had time to work on a few house hold chores like cleaning out the fridge :

There were a few containers that got pushed to the back of the fridge and magically found their way into the garbage can. Gladwear is my friend!

Another plus of spring break is being able to catch up on some prime time tv watching ....or netflix binge watching would be a more accurate way to put it :) Don't least until I tell you that I have been marathon watching Desperate Housewives all week. Ok now you can judge ...

Before we went on break I told you guys about our Read Across America Week theme days! It was fantastic! The kids loved DEAR day! They asked why we can't drop everything and read every to my ears! Another activity we accomplished that week was decorating our hallway in the theme of one of Dr. Seuss' books. We chose "Oh the Places You'll Go" and the kids decorated the entire hallway..I didn't have to do anything, yet another reason why I love teaching 8th graders!!

Every 7th and 8th grader decorated a hot air balloon and added in some of the places(aspirations) they hope to accomplish once they leave middle school. Loved this!!

And lastly I went shopping today and bought a new bed spread that I LOVE LOVE LOVE! As much as I love having time off I think I will be ready to head back on Monday. 3 Weeks till Testing!! More on that next week!

Have an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sneak Peek & A Freebie!

I love having time to actually work on things that I have been trying to finish for the past 2 months! I have time to clean, entertain friends and work on some of my interactive notebooks!! I am loving how the Ancient Greek & Greek Mythology notebooks are coming along! Take a peek!

I hope they will be ready by the end of the week!! To hold you over until then I am posting a FREEBIE!!

I posted my Plot Graphic Organizer!!