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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Hi (again!)

This was a little project of mine during my second and third year of teaching. Somewhere along the way I fell off of the blogging wagon. But I have been craving a creative outlet and after creating a teaching instagram account in the Fall, I am feeling super energized and motivated by other teachers -- so I thought I'd try my hand at this blogging thing again.

My last post was January 1, 2014. So now, almost 4 years to the day...
Since Jan of 2014 a lot has changed!

-I got married (Sept. 2014)
-Switched school  the same month (And NO, I don't suggest changing jobs and simultaneously throwing a wedding!)
-I bought a house.
-Got a dog.
-Switched grade levels.
-Took on a bunch of additional responsibilities at my new school.

I'm sure my life has changed in a million other ways too...

It's been fun (and a little cringy) to look back at my 2012-2013 self. At that point I was at the start of my career and I was so passionate and creative, something I hope to tap back into in 2018. At the time, teaching was my life and I was happy to spend countless hours prepping and creating on nights and weekends. But with all of that passion and zest I was lacking confidence in my own teaching abilities. I knew that I was doing my absolute darnedest for my kids but I always had this nagging feeling that I didn't have any idea what I was doing!

Today I am more experienced and more confident in my teaching. I have been teaching for 7 years and  have gained so much content knowledge. I am more comfortable interacting with parents.I have a bag of teaching tricks and go-to activities. I can write a lesson plan in my sleep. But to be completely honest, I've also had an  ebb in my energy level, my passion, my constant motivation to keep coming up with new and exciting things to do everyday.

I think I have a lot to share and know that I have a TON to still learn!

 I hope that getting back to this blog, as well as continuing to follow other teachers on social media,  will help me to connect, to reflect on my practices, to hold myself accountable,  and, most of all, help me to continue to grow in my craft. 

So let's see what happens with this little blog.  Thanks for following along on this journey!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January Currently

Happy New Year! 

Let's celebrate with this month's Currently

Listening to Parks & Rec...not going to lie, we've pretty much  had an all day marathon. Oops! But then what are vacations for if not to lounge around?!?!? 

Loving this winter break!  After traveling all over CA to visit family and friends during the first week of break, I am finally back in my cozy little apartment with my kitty and fiancee. Perfect day of relaxing and lounging today..... I <3 you, Winter Break! 

Thinking about my never ending to do list. I spent the first half of my break traveling and you already know that I spent today relaxing away. Tomorrow is all about gettinng things done: lesson planning, grading, grocery shopping, oh my! 

I am not wanting anything at the moment. Feeling blessed and content. 

Needing to do a  loooottt of laundry. Too much laundry!!! 
Ecard laundry breeds while I'm asleep        Should I do laundry or buy more clothes? #ecard

My favorite memory of the break was spending the day with my Mama and Grandma. A little coffee, a little lunch and a whole lotta shopping. Just a few of my favorite things! :) 

Now if you haven't done it all ready...go link up with Farley

I hope you all are enjoying the start to 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fun with coordinate grids - 7 simple & engaging activities!

Before we left for the break we spend a lot of time learning about ordered pairs & the coordinate grid. This is one of my favorite math topics and my sweet kiddos loved it too!

Here are some of the activities and lessons we complete:

One: coordinate grids all around us...
I started with this chess demonstration  board. Chess is big at my school. We have a big chess club and a lot of  student involvement. (Such a wonderful thing--especially in an inner city school!)

All of  my kids were familiar with this board as the chess advisor uses daily. We started by placing chess pieces on the board and naming the coordinates. (I.e. g, 3). ( I have to admit my kids were looking at me like I was crazy. They couldn't figure out why I was using the chess board during math time and they had a good laugh when I couldn't tell a pawn from a rook!) 

This was an easy first step for my kiddos since  they have all seen the chess board and many of them have used it.

Later we labeled the x axis, y axis and origin.

We also looked at a good old fashion map and the game Battleship for more examples of coordinate grids at work in our everyday life.  The kids loved exploring this during center time.

TWO:  Coordinate Grid  Whiteboard
We went on to some direct instruction. I used this board by lakeshore. I love it!

Coordinate Grid Activity Chart

This is such an easy and fun product and it comes with some fun task cards and static clings so the kids were able to practice graphing using the cards, static clings and a whiteboard marker. This is also great because the back side has all four quadrants. Great for my 5th graders and advanced 4th grader. 

Because it is so hands on, I threw it in the center rotation after I was done using it for direct instruction. This was  another favorite center time activity.

Three:  Foldables
 We also completed these foldables.

 Perfect for introducing and reinforcing that academic vocabulary!

Four:  Song
I taught my kids this little song to help them remember how to plot points:

*to the tune of the wheels on the bus

The points on the grid go over and up,
Over and up,

Over and up.

The points on the grid go over and up
All through the grid.

I found this little guy a looonnngggg time ago so I'm not sure exactly where it originated. If you know let me know so I can give credit where credit is due. 

Trust me this little trune gets stuck in your head (which is a good thing when it pertains to math!). We added hang motions too and I think that really helped my students to remember the way to graph ordered pairs. 

Five:  Riddle sheets

I love these little guys from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. I bought these a couple of years ago and I don't see them in her store anymore so I'm glad a grabbed them when I did. 

I just threw these little guys into page protectors so that the kids could graph and wipe off their work for the next group.  A couple copies, page protectors and white board pens = instant center. (Gotta save those copies where you can! :)) You can easily modify this for any ordered pair printable you have on hand. 

PS I just went over to check out Teaching in Room 6 and I saw that Stephanie most recent post is about another fun coordinate grid project. Check it out here.

Six: Candy Coordinate Game

A few days later we played this easy  game during small groups using that same little lakeshore whiteboard. It's so simple! (I modified my game from this idea on the Lakeshore website.) 

Just tape a handful of skittles to the whiteboard before small groups.

(Opps! Please excuse the glare!) 

Write a variety of ordered red pairs on slips of paper and place in a jar. The slips of paper should include "skittle points" and "non-skittle points").

Students take turns drawing an ordered pair from the jar and then plotting the ordered pairs on the coordinate grid. If the student plots a point where a skittle is located they remove the skittle and keep it (but don't eat it because its covered in sticky tape!).

After all of the ordered pairs have been plotted the students who have one or more skittles can choose a small prize from the prize basket.

So easy, minimal prep and the kids were begging for more.  Win- win!

This was also easy to differentiated because the back of the whiteboard is has 4 quadrants to challenge even my most advanced little darlings and the front side has a single quadrant which is more appropriate for most of my fourth graders.

Seven:  Mystery Pictures
We wrapped up our mini unit with this cute little mystery picture from Super Teacher Worksheets.

This is the start of a snowman in case you couldn't tell. :)

Again this was an easy thing to differentiate  because super teachers has graphing pictures at a basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

Thanks for hanging in on this looonnnggg post! i hope you found some helpful stuff!

What do you do to teach/practice using coordinate grids????

I know my kiddos will need a refresher course when we get back from winter break so I am on the look out for more engaging activities. :)

If you found this helpful you might also might like this post about some other math games centers we've been working with in class. 

Enjoy your Monday! (It's so much easier to say this when I'm sitting in my PJ's and enjoying come  vacation time....Hope you are enjoying your vacation time as well!) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Hope your spending this Christmas with your loved ones.

Sending you holiday greetings 
 from (a much younger) fact in this pic I'm the student! :) 

(My very first homemade ornament...circa 1987:) ) 

From my family to yours, 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

- Julia 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Five for Friday (A little late!)

This week was kinda crazy! Lots going on but lots of fun too. I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching  for a little recap.

One: New Book Love

I just ordered a bunch of books from the  Enchantment of the World series by Scholastic.

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Displaying photo 3.JPGMy kiddos LOVED these books! My class is VERY diverse and they really enjoyed learning about different cultures and also sharing books about their own cultures with the other students. So much fun!              

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TWO: Hanukkah

We spent some time learning about the traditions of Hanukkah. We researched the history of Hanukkah, completed a dreidel graphing project and did a lot of reading.

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Two of our favorite books were Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat and Too Many Latkes. We compared and contrasted the two stories.  (EEK! Look at that dirty board.) :)

Three: TpT Sale Goodies 

I picked up a lot of good stuff on Monday night! We even used some of my new purchases this week....

        Reading and Math Activities for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa     Reindeer Fraction and Decimal Math Tasks *Perfect for Holi     Hanukkah Thematic Unit (Intermediate) For Very Busy Teachers

Four: Tater Tot Morning Muffins

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Yup, there are tater tots in there. Basically a mini quiche with tater tot crust.  So yummy and so easy!

 I made a bunch of these over Thanksgiving break and threw them in the freezer. For the recipe  check out the adorable Ella Claire Inspired.

Five: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

Tree: Check!
Shopping: Check!
Cookies: Check!

Well, I think that is it for me. Here's
to enjoying the rest of the weekend and kicking off the Christmas season! 
Have a great one! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Currently

I'm alive!!! It's been awhile but I hope to get back to my blogging routine.  Now what better way to  catch up than with November's currently. (BTW, can you belive it's already November?!?!?) 

Between TLC, pintrest and planning my own wedding... I feel like I may have taken this whole wedding thing to an extreme. Bring it on! :) 

Pretty self explanitory. Love a lazy fall day... 

Feeling lucky and blessed on my birthday weekend. Enjoying my day and anticipating a yummy early birthday dinner dinner with good friends, good friends and good wine. 

I'm ready for the eating and laughing to commence! Come on girlies, hurry up and get here! 

Why doesn't the cleaning fairy come on your birthday??? That would be the best present of all for this girlie. 

Yummy Pin 
How cute are these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes from the Not So Simple Housewife?!?!? Love them!
Starbucks inspired Pumpkin Spice latte cupcakes by Not So Simple Housewife!

If you don't already follow me on pintrest click here for all things school, wedding and fashion

Don't forget to link up with Farley
Oh' boy fourth grade

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites (Book Review)

Life has been busy! About a week befoe school started I was switched from 5th grade to a 4th/5th combo class. EKKK! So far things have been going well and I have been working my booty off to make sure that everybody's needs are met. Boy am I glad that I atteneded lots of PD this summer! It's really paid off. 

I wanted to share one of the resources I have been using to help me with my planning....

I attended an amazing local conference this summer with a focus on brain research and learning. It was so fascinating and also a bit overwhelming! So much new information for this little lady's head! 

 A presenter at the conference commented that it is a teachers job to mold young minds and facilitate learning,  yet most of us are doing this without understanding how a brain really works. Wow! That  really stuck with me!  

This realization led me to do my own research and eventually led me  to the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate.  

What I LOVE about this book is that it is really teacher friendly! Marcia outlines 20 research based strategies and EXPLAINS how and why each strategy is effective.

The book is divided into 20 manageable chapters (one chapeter for each staretgy). Each chapter is conciese but still packed with information. Tate begins each chapter by defining the staretgy. She goes on to explain the reserach and exactltly  why the startegy works. Tate also gives examples of several lesson plans using the particular staregy. She even leaves room for the teacher reader to reflect and apply the startegy in a workbook format.

The 20 strategies include: 

1) Brainstorming & Discussion 
2) Drawing and Art Work 
3) Field Trips 
4) Games
5) Graphic Organizers
6) Humor 
7) Manipulatives, Experiments and Models 
8) Metaphors & Analogies 
9) Mnemonic Devices 
10) Movement 
11) Music, Rhythm, Rhyme & Rap 
12) Project Based/Problem Based Learning 
13) Reciprocal Teaching & Cooperative Learning 
14) Role Play & Drama
15) Storytelling 
16) Technology 
17) Visualization 
18) Visuals 
19) Work Study 
20) Writing and Journals 

It is not that these are brand new, never before heard of strategies. Using these strategies is just good teaching but what this book does an excellent job doing is explaining why these strategies work based on brain research.

I love this video from Marcia Tate because it really explains the reasons she wrote the book and how it came to be.

This video is actually a preview of  an online course but it also has a great explanations of the brain research that backs up these strategies, as well as, clips of strategies in use in the classroom.

I really found this to be an easy and fascinating read. As I read, I kept finding myself thinking, "Oh, so that's why such and such works!" I loved the acceability of this book. Although it is researched based it does not read like a textbook.

As we begin the first weeks of school, I find myslef refering to my copy of the book. I even printed a list of the 20 startegies to keep in my plan book. Now that I have a multigrade class, I feel like having a variety of activities and teaching startegies is even more imparitive to effective teaching. So glad I found this book! : )

Have you read Worksheets  Don't Grow Dendrites?
 What were your thoughts???? 
Do you have any other resources for teachers and brain research????
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