Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's reSOLUTIONS

It's almost a new year!  I don't know if I should be excited, or depressed, that time keeps stomping all over me!  There never seems to be enough time for anything, whether it's teaching or holidays or watching your children grow.  Before you know it, summer will be upon us...and I will be turning 40!!!  Maybe that's what is feeding my time frenzy.  The big 4-0 looms before me, and though I don't feel 40 (mentally or physically...well, except for maybe my lower back...and my knee), it's the idea that 40 years have passed in my lifetime and there is still so much that I want to do!

In the last 4 years, the phrase "one day at a time" has become something of a mantra for me.  That's how I try to live life.  It has certainly relieved a lot of the pressure that I used to place on myself.  I used to have a crystal ball in my mind, and I used it constantly to make today's decisions based solely on how they would affect my tomorrows. 

But what about today?  Do I sacrifice today's joy worrying about what tomorrow may bring?  I used to hate the phrase "It is what it is."  Five words that seemed (to me) like giving up.  As in, it is what it is, nothing I can do to change it.  No!  I can change things!  I can change people!  Just give me a little time, a little (okay, a lot...I mean, a TON) of mental and emotional elbow grease, and they'll eventually come around to my way of thinking!  Ugh.  Ugh ugh ugh.

Today I choose joy. 

Why all of this philosophical rambling, you ask?  Because I'm tempted to make a New Year's Resolution.  Because I'm tempted to start typing out my goals for the new year.  Because I'm tempted to put down in black and white a bunch of things that I may or may not be able to accomplish tomorrow or the next day or the next, and frankly, I don't want to be disappointed in myself.   So...TODAY I will:

1)  Finish this blog and post it.

2)  Post a freebie in my TPT store!  It's a People Book Craftivity that I used with my kiddos when we were researching Ben Franklin, but it can be used for any historical figure (MLK Day is coming up!), on Mother's Day, as an autobiography, for character analysis, or anything else you can think of!  Click on the link to download your free copy for a limited time!  Here are a couple of pics of how one of my student's work turned out:
Inside (informational paragraph about Ben Franklin)
 3)  Share with you some images from my jobby (my job/hobby as a photographer).  I love my JOBBY!!!
Love the ginger!

What a cutie!

4)  Warn you that chalk paint is NOT easier than regular painting, no matter what other blogs may say!!!


5)  Wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Stay safe this holiday and enjoy the last few moments of peace and quiet before the race to summer begins!  Bring it on, 2015!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

So Close...And Yet So Far

Is it only Wednesday?  I swear when I woke up this morning, it was Friday.  Clearly, my brain and my body want Christmas vacation (ahem, I'm sorry, Winter Holiday) to get here...QUICK!  I mistakenly thought that I would return from Thanksgiving break renewed and refreshed.  I don't know about you, but a week off just didn't cut it.  We leapt right back onto the 5th Grade Grindstone, and will remain there until next Friday (with a teensy break on the obligatory Polar Express day - yay for PJs at school and an hour-and-a-half to get stuff done!).  Seven more days til rest and relaxation (in the form of last-minute Christmas shopping) doesn't seem like too much, until I look at my jam-packed lesson close, and yet, so far!!!

So we ended our unit on American Colonization this week.  I've tried really hard this year not to fall behind in social studies.  It's my favorite subject, but with STAAR tests in reading, math, and science, it always seems to be the subject that is ignored when we are in a time crunch (a.k.a., all year long).  I wanted to make things more interactive for the kiddos - they are a special bunch that require LOTS of hands-on activities.  I also wanted to make sure that I integrated informational reading with this unit...two birds, one stone, and all.  Here are some of the interactive activities that we used in class!!!

Accordion books to record information about each colonial region

Passage on the effects of colonial climate on economy and industry
(It was a great way to integrate cause & effect with the topic!)

13 mini-flapbooklets to record information (the Who, When, & Why) for each colony

Colonial Map
This unit is one of my social studies favorites!  But I really can't wait to move on to the American Revolution!  I'm a total National Treasure junkie - every time it's on TV, I just HAVE to tune in!  The Revolutionary War is one of my favorite periods in American history, just behind the '60's and the Civil Rights Movement (I would've been a total hippie, I'm sure of it!).  I haven't decided if I'm going to attempt to create an entire unit on the American Revolution, but knowing me, I probably will!  In the meantime, get your copy of my American Colonization unit at 20% off for a limited time!  It's over 80 pages of interactive goodies, and it's available in my TPT store.  Click HERE to grab the unit at a discount through December 13th!!!
Seven days to go...Merry Christmas, y'all! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Fraction Trilogy

The fraction craze continues in 5th grade...  I really enjoy seeing my kiddos move from "This is too hard," to "This isn't so bad," to "I can do this," and finally, "This is easy!"  That's been this fraction far.  I know it can't always be sunshine and roses, but for now, I'll take it! 

We've moved into comparing fractions, a new 4th grade skill that got lost in the shuffle of TEKS over the summer.  Thank God for the awesome 4th grade teachers at my school for introducing this at the tail-end of last year!  It made the models and numbers and word problems (oh my!) that much easier to teach. 

And then came cross multiplication...  Ah, yes, the lazy man's strategy (according to the "Powers that Be"), but quite useful if I do say so myself!  Then again...cross multiplication seems like such an easy concept.  However, you never know what your kiddos are going to do with a new concept, and that held true for comparing fractions!  They wanted to multiply all kinds of different ways, but eventually...they nailed it!  Here are a few of the activities we worked on today...


More models...and benchmarks!

Cross-multiplying...with an impromptu story problem when one of my kiddos asked, "What if they are EQUAL???"

And a few simple story problems...we will tackle more challenging word problems tomorrow!
Download your FREE copy of my Comparing Fractions Mini-Unit for a limited time!  Enjoy!!!