Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Catching Up and a Giveaway Using an Unusual Random Number Generator

Well, darn.  It's almost December.  My last post was in October.  Whoa. I guess it's time to dust off the ol' blog and fill in a gap or two.

So, what's new in Room 24?  I now have a student teacher.  It's only one day a week, but I love it.  Mrs. V. has jumped right in (her second placement) and is already teaching segments of our day. She has that teacher gene and the kids adore her.  She was a second language learner when she was in elementary school so she's made a strong connection with my ELLs. What's in this experience for me? A lot. I've always considered myself to be reflective about my own teaching practice, but having a student teacher working at my side makes me even more so.  It brings me back to my time as an instructional strategies coach when I would spend my days in classrooms working with teachers.  Let's just say that I love, love, love this experience.

Our Walking Classroom is going well.  The kids love their Walkkits.

 So far, so good...all Walkkits are still in working order and we've yet to replace a single battery.  One interesting piece of data I've gathered from using the Walkkits is that I have some students who really struggle with auditory learning.  While there are a few children with identified auditory processing disorders in my class, I'm noticing a few more who struggle with their post-walk assignments.  They just don't seem to absorb the information as easily as their classmates. I know, it's November and I probably should have figured this out sooner, but with 34 students it has taken me a bit longer than usual to decipher their individual needs. I've made a point of checking in with them more frequently during direct instruction and giving them smaller chunks of learning to digest.  Just an added benefit from an already great program. In case you haven't heard,  The Walking Classroom now has 4th grade podcasts!

A few months ago, Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me a shiny blue pencil sharpener.

Little Blue

While I probably should have written up my review sooner, I think it's more meaningful to write a review after a product has been used for an extended period of time.  Afterall, anyone can write a great review immediately after trying out a new product only to have that product fail a week later right?  Well, I've been using my spiffy pencil sharpener every day for several months now and I'm happy to report that I'm still madly in love with it!  I'm one of those people who might be described as being a tiny, little bit obsessive about having a sharp pencil in hand.  I keep my personal pencil cup filled with freshly sharpened pencils for me to use throughout the day.  The moment one gets just a bit dull, I pull out a new one.  Okay, that might be more than a tiny bit obsessive, but I'm admitting the obsession so it's all good.  Anyway, back to the Classroom Friendly Supplies' Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener that I'm so madly in love with.  First of all, it is quiet.  Quiet is good when you spend your days in a room with 34 ten and eleven year olds.  Obviously though, the most important quality of a pencil sharpener is its ability to look adorable on my desk....okay, that's not true.  But it is the prettiest blue ever and it comes in a variety of bright colors: Cool Blue, Midnight Black, Precious Pink, Groovy Green, and Firehouse Red.  Besides being quiet and cute (sounds like the perfect fifth grader doesn't it?), this thing can sharpen!  When I first introduced Little Blue to the class, I felt the need to caution my students as they walked away with their newly sharpened daggers pencils.  "Be careful, that's sharp!"  Now they stop me with, "You don't have to tell me, I know it's sharp."  Months later, Little Blue (yes, we named it) is still sharpening our pencils to a perfect point.  Bottom line:  Add this to your Christmas list.  Need gifts for your grade level team?  Classroom Friendly Supplies offers them in a 3 pack!  Go check them out.

Unless you've been living in a cave or under a pile of ungraded essays, you know that Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Cyber Sale on Monday and Tuesday. I made a little set of Winter Themed English Language Arts Review task cards just in time for the sale.

Then I started adding to my wish list. I added, and then added some more. Apparently there's no limit to how many items you can wish for.  I'm always on the lookout for engaging activities to use with my fifth graders.  What's on the top of your wish list?  If you know of a product that I just shouldn't miss out on, let me know by leaving a link to the item in a comment below.  Self promotion is okay!  If you've got a great product that I 'need' for my fifth graders, let me know about it!  I'll be giving a set of my task cards away to someone who leaves a comment with a suggestion for my wish list.  I'll be using Gus, one of the Wild Ones, as my random number generator.  Gus is rather vocal tonight. I might as well put his incessant barking to good use.  For the next 30 minutes, I'm going to keep track of how many times he runs to the window to bark at __________(choose one of the following)  blowing leaves, the neighbor's cat, the mailman, passersby, and birds.  So if he races to the window 9 times and you're the 9th person to leave a comment, you win!

Happy Thanksgiving Eve and may your turkeys defrost in time.