Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back to School and Feeling Refreshed

Hello Blog Family,

I hope everyone has had a terrific summer. Mine has been great. I didn't get the break I probably needed though, because I taught a reading/Social Studies class this summer. The highlight of this class was that my students got to make butter! That was really fun and watching their faces light up as the cream actually turned yellow was a delight! It also gave me a new appreciation for elementary teachers. I taught fifth graders and its shocking how different they are than sixth graders. It's true what they say, middle school really serves as a transition for these kids!

I have decided to blog a lot more... mostly in part to my feeling much more comfortable this year than last year. I felt like last year I was trying to play catch up the whole time; this year I feel like my head and possibly shoulders are above water! It's amazing what a summer of planning and creating materials can do to make a person feel secure! Later this week I will be posting my "after" picture of my classroom. Before I post the "before" pictures, I want to give a brief summary of my room/ school. My school was built in the seventies as an open concept school. The classrooms had no walls! Once they decided that was a bad idea, they added metal walls to section off classrooms. ( This means we have no windows in the entire building. My classroom feels like a prison box and it requires a lot of love.
This is the view from my desk. Note the hideous orange bulletin board! Whoever thought that was a wonderful color, IDK! But I will say the custodians did a great job making my floors shiny and new!!
This is the back wall. I hate how plain it looks! Don't worry, that too will be fixed. Now I realize that middle school teachers don't really do themes, but I will be spending a lot of time here, so it will be fixed.

 And finally the front of my room. We have a whiteboard and chalkboards. I don't like chalkboards so I have a plan for them! Stay with me as my journey progresses!!
Always Faithful,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Colonial Regions

Today is a snow day, so I'm catching up on my blog! I've been taking pictures in my classroom for blog posts and doing nothing with them!

One of the things my students have to know about are the British colonies in North America and how those colonies specialized and were interdependent. Those are very big words for sixth graders to not just learn the definition of, but also understand in practice. We decided to tackle specialization first, and then go to interdependence. In order to teach interdependence, the students had to create a recipe. Each group of students was given one type of fruit. Then they had to trade to make sure they recieved all the fruit for their recipe. It was a gret simulation! They had to meet at the trading center in order to discuss how they were going to trade. One group even messed things up a bit! That group traded so much that they traded ALL of their products, so when it came time to build their recipe, the thing they were missing was their specialized product!

We had to link this back to colonial regions so we colored maps, cut and pasted things to map, and did worksheets. I didn't feel like this was enough to reach all the various learning styles in my classroom, so I introduced the walk and play map of the eastern seaboard.
I know that some of the states are not exactly accurate, but considering I drew it by hand I think its pretty awesome. After I drew it, I painted the canvas with watercolors. The paint sort of peeled and I like this because it looks like an older map. The kids got really into it! On tiles, I hot glued the different products the colonies specialized in: I glued down cotton and  indigo, lumber and different farm animals. I even went to the bait and tackle shop and got some lures that looked like fish to glue to tiles. I had dried tobacco leaves that they could feel and smell if they wanted to. They were so excited. They were sliding around on the map and placing their tiles down. The best object for them was my toy ship. I was able to use the ship as a behavir management tool because they were all trying to be on the their best behavior to be picked for the ship! What cool ideas do you have to teach map skills or colonial regions?
Always Faithful,

Field Trip Fun

Hello Bloggers!

It has been quite some time since I last wrote on here. My first year as a teacher has been quite a ride.

I wanted to blog about the field trip yesterday! We went to Pamplin Park which is a National Park about the Civil War. The sixth grade students really enjoyed themselves! They walked the actually battlegrounds; that's one of the cool things about living in Virginia. They got to dress like soldiers and see what life would have been like in a soldier's csmp during the Civil War. They also get to walk through the on site museum and listen to one soldier's experience in the Civil War. They students also enjoyed oretending to load and fire a musket.

Planning a field trip is hard work, and while I did not do the brunt of the work, I certainly felt the pressure. We had to carry all of our students' medication, from epipens to diabetic testing kits and more. We decided it would be best for each of us to carry the medicine of the kids in our own classes, but the teachers on the other team decided to let one person carry the medicine--she had a suitcase full!

We each had three chaperones per class, and we decided to make them a chaperone kit. In the kit, we put a list of all the teacher and chaperone contacts, a park map, and a list of the kids they were watching. I definitely feel like maybe we could have put more information in those packets, but I have no idea what. Do you guys have any suggestions?