Five for Friday 2-5-16


First off, SNOW DAY!!!!

Oh my goodness, yes!

First snow day so far this year and it is SO needed! I have about five projects I need to finish and I was thinking nope. No way I'll be able to do them all. But snow day = ketchup day! I couldn't go back to sleep after the call so I got up, got breakfast and started to blog.

On to the rest of the post! 


I don't think I've ever shared this AWESOME calendar my friend got me as a Christmas gift..it's an adhesive chalkboard calendar! You peel off the back, stick it on the wall, and then write on it with the chalkboard marker that comes with it. LOVE IT!

 I was a little nervous when I pulled off January to see if it left a residue but PHEW! No residue! Plus you can see all my meetings, book clubs, and integrated arts periods for the month! ;) 

I actually REALLY want to write a Day-In-The-Life of a teacher post someday because my days are CRAY CRAY lately and it would be fun (in that teacher sense of humor kind of way) to keep track of it all for one day then blog about it.


I watched some of Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd's YouTube posts this week about creating task cards and using the eye dropper tool to match colors (okay, why didn't I realize how AWESOME she is before this week?? And now I'm like a woman possessed consuming everything she has ever put out there!). 

Completely inspired, I decided to try my hand at it (if you watch her videos, I pretty much LITERALLY copied her techniques). My goals are to get more comfortable with my Mac and to really learn how to make products for my classroom that look finished and professional and this achieved both goals! Trying to create the task card template for fun was a great learning experience! 

Can you say MESSY DESK??? 

Yesterday this was Goal #7 to clean it up (I'd say it was Goal #1 but then I'd be lying). 

Holy guacamole! Student papers, my papers, box of old books, hand outs, forms, binders, student posters, student work, iPad cases...(and then we have UNDER my desk..a shoe box?? Filled with old folders from LAST year..) 

Honestly I'm not even sure what's going on here. 

I've been super productive the last two weeks but whenever I'm super productive I become SUPER messy! If I'm neat it just means I'm procrastinating on what I NEED to do...so I'll take a messy desk over being unproductive but even I have my limit! I really needed to clean it because I was supposed to have a meeting in my room today and I didn't want to embarrass myself ... I mean let's be honest. And as extra incentive, I decided I could share my cleaned up desk on here to help motivate me! 
And it worked! Ta da! Clean desk! 

Biggest confession? I threw out about 200 pages of student work. I just don't have the space! And there is literally no reason for me to keep papers for every single second graders favorite Nutmeg Nominee. Or what headings first graders found in books. 

I kept thinking Oh I might need it for data for my teacher evaluation ... Uh no. I won't ever actually sort through and score this work AND a lot of the papers didn't have names on them. I know I'm a horrible person. But I teach 500 students so please just picture trying to store 500 pages each week of student work. IMPOSSIBLE. I have to choose what I keep, and what I use for formative assessments VERY carefully. Or else soon my desk just turns into paper stacks hidden EVERY WHERE. 

I created a differentiation binder for both academics and behavior. I don't have a picture of it but if you look closely you'll see it in the picture of my desk...I made this cover page this morning for the front.

I was trying a handful of differentiation strategies each month but could never remember with which classes and it didn't feel consistent.  One of my goals for teacher evaluation is differentiation and at my mid year I just felt I had no concrete way of working towards this goal. This binder is my way now. 

The front section focuses on academics and the back focuses on behavior. 

For academics, I created this sheet and each week I am picking a different strategy to try either across a grade level or in a specific class or even just with one kiddo.

Last week I focused on alternate work for a student who is an English language learner. This was a HUGE success and continued it this week with the child, adjusting it slightly to fit the new lesson. 
This week I chose screencasting as my differentiation tool, both to use with a whole class and also with an individual student in a class. I LOVE screencasting, love making them and love the concept of them but I'm still figuring out ways to make them interesting to students. While my first week strategy was a success, my second week strategy? Not quite as much!

But that's okay! Now I know: make screencasts SHORTER and more engaging. This isn't for other teachers to watch. It's for students who are SEVEN YEARS OLD! The purpose is so they know what to do on the computer to decrease repetition of instruction. I'm going to challenge myself to keep the screencast to under two minutes and keep fine tuning until then. I also think I want to start making a screencast for each lesson with bullets and a quick example to use AFTER direct instruction when they need help or they forget a step. And I'll have the link in the bookmarks bar if anyone needs it.

If anyone has used screencasts as a way of differentiation in their classroom, I'd LOVE to know how you keep it engaging but understandable!


The back half of the binder is focused on behavior differentiation where I have a sheet protector for each child I am focusing on. In the sheet protector I have a ALSUP (Ross Greene's Assessment of Lagging Skills & Unsolved Problems) that I complete. I apologize for the blurriness BUT if you look at the URL (and this is the reason I included the whole screenshot)  you can see that it is from Greene's site Lives in the Balance. I also include in the sheet protector notes from conversations I have with both the student and parents and examples of strategies we've tried (Goal lists, to do lists, earning positive v negative points) with notes on the success rates for the strategies. This helps me keep everything organized and in one place. Right now I have only three students in the binder but will add more as I continue to use the binder. 



This week my second graders designed their own roller coasters and had to complete challenges with small groups. When they finished they went on to Discovery Kids and used the Roller Coaster Simulator to create digital roller coasters. This lesson was loud and messy and FUN! 


In first grade they had to solve a mystery! I told the students the headings disappeared in my favorite elephant book! And I was very worried until I remembered my first graders are experts at headings! I modeled finding evidence in the Educreations app and they had so much fun finding "clues" (keywords on the page) to figure out the missing headings. 

Happy Friday and SNOW DAY!!

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