May 31, 2013

June Goals


I'm linking up with Jess over at I{heart}Recess for her monthly goals blog post. I joined her last month for the first time... I've got to say that I am soooo happy that I did! After creating goals for May, I really did return to them several times during the month to monitor my progress: I did practice my piano more, I did eat more healthy foods (I even weaned myself off of pop), and I did plan my blog posts ahead of time... yea me! However, I did NOT plan better for school... I have been, gulp, lazy!

BUT, I did have my fivers do a similar activity. We were supposed to evaluate our success on Friday, May 31st, but I was called away to play guitar and sing at a special mass and missed their class... see, if I had planned better at school we could've done it the day before. I didn't want the sub to tackle this activity as it is something special for us! It will be a few days into June before we get to the May goals but it'll work.

Now for my June goals...


PERSONAL: I tend to feel guilty if I am not being productive, doing something. I have not taken the time to just sit and enjoy. I can remember one of my MOST favorite summer things to do used to be just sitting on the glider on my porch and listening to the neighborhood sounds. Gonna recapture this this summer! It's good for the soul.

FAMILY: I've got lots of fun things planned... cookouts, roadtrips, and TONS of FUN!

HEALTH: I must start walking a little. The arthritis in my knees has gotten worse this past year. As a result, I've gotten less active... BAD! I'm going to force myself to walk a little bit each day, even if it's just around the block.

SCHOOL: I'm going to TRY not to think about this for a couple of weeks... yeah, right!

BLOG/TpT: I've got about a dozen or more products in process for TpT/TN... gotta finish them!

READ: LOTS, and LOTS, and LOTS and all for entertainment!

Happy Teaching,
Happy June... yes, summer break,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6

May 30, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I'm linking up with Teri over at A Cupcake for the Teacher for hers and Hadar's and April's second annual Summer Bucket List linky.


I have soooo many things that I'd like to accomplish this summer that I'm afraid I won't know where to begin.

1. FINISH THE INSIDE PAINTING!!!!!! My mother passed away in May of 2010 and I inherited a shabby, but paid for house. With the economy being in the sub-sub-basement in my area of the country there was no way I could sell the house so... This will be summer no. 4 of Operation Make-over. The first year I painted the dining room and redecorated it.


Year no. 2 saw me rebuilding walls (talk about a nasty job... plaster is DIRTY)  in the living room and painting it.

Year no. 3 saw the kitchen completely repainted (a second coat still is needed for the red walls) and a new counter installed, the living room ceiling painted, and the living room redecorated.




Year no. 4 (THIS YEAR) has seen a brand new bathroom installed... LOVE IT! 


But there is STILL painting to do: the stairway walls, baseboards, and stair railings (UGH!) I am soooo tired of paint, brushes, and all the other paraphernalia. The one good thing that will keep me going is that this will be the end of my part of the household make-over. Anything else left to do is all contractor stuff!

2. In between all the painting I would like to read, everything and anything that does NOT have the words Common Core in it, on it, or about it! Just FUN, escape reading! My Kindle is full of novels that are begging me to read them. I have a soft spot for Amish Romance right now... so sweet... I think there must be about 50 of this type just waiting for me on my Kindle! I PROMISE, I'M ON MY WAY, KINDLE!

3. I want to get the front porch cleaned off. It has been the repository of all things to be thrown away, as in all the cardboard boxes, paint cans, old pots and pans... I have to get my nephew to come over with his truck so we can load it up and take all these things to the dump. I have a wonderful front porch on which underneath all the JUNK can be found a glider. Ahhhhh! SOON!

4.  Pinterest projects... I have found so many great projects to do for over the summer. I LOVE to take old things and repurpose them. Plus there are TONS and TONS of TERRIFIC TEACHING ideas that I need to TAME! I'd like to spend time going through all my boards and pins and finding three or four things to MAKE, three or four recipes to MAKE, and three or four classroom ideas to MAKE!





5. Work on all the new products I have started for my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and Teacher's Notebook Shop. I must have 20-25 started that MUST GET FINISHED!

6. Continue practicing my piano. It is one year this past weekend that I was given my beautiful piano. My initial goal was to be able to play it after one year. Well.... yeah, I can play it, but not fluently... I kind of stutter. That's my next goal, by the end of summer... fluent piano playing. I would like to be able to play for one of our school masses this next school year.

7. And FINALLY.... just RELAX!!!!!!!

Happy Summer,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6

May 29, 2013

Pinteresting Wednesday

What did I pin this week? More like what didn't I pin this week? It's quite an eclectic bunch of ideas.





















Don't miss this one:


And if these haven't been enough, just check out my right sidebar. I installed a new Pinterest widget that shows what my latest pins are...

Ah, heck, just go see ALL my pins... LOL!



Happy Pinning,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6


May 28, 2013

Budding Blog

Thanks to Jess over at I{heart}Recess for hosting the May Budding Blog Linky! Lovin' this one since I found a TON of newer blogs to peruse! In order to be part of this linky a blog has to have less than 200 followers.



1. Why did you start blogging?
I have actually been a webhost for MANY years, nearly twenty, in fact. I managed The Teacher's Desk, a website for 5/6th grade teachers. There I had posted 100's of lessons including the original Paragraph a Week program. I tell all about it in my very first ever blog post: The Teacher's Desk... Repurposed and Now Opened. I closed The Teacher's Desk (although you can still visit it via The Wayback Machine) a couple of years ago when I opened The Teacher's Desk 6, a FREE website for my students and parents. This blog is an offshoot of my new website.

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
Probably Language Arts since I've been doing it continuously for 32 years, but my real love is Math. I have loved numbers since I was young. Math was my best subject in school yet I've only taught it for three years out of 33 years.

3. Describe your teaching style.
I have to laugh at this item. I have no particular style. I teach however it works for each class/student. Sometimes I am a lecturer, sometimes a facilitator, sometimes a coach... whatever it takes! I believe that I am a born teacher and am one of those fortunate people to have discovered what she/he was meant to do.

4. Give three interesting facts about you.
a. I am tenacious like a bulldog. I do not EVER give up and do NOT let my students give up.
b. I am a forever learner, a day does not go by that I don't try to consciously learn something new.
c. I have VERY eclectic taste in nearly everything, from music to favorite foods, from clothing style to what I read. I like it ALL!

5. Do you have a TpT store? Yes, I do
The Teacher's Desk 6 Store... http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Teachers-Desk-6
And a Teacher's Notebook Shop...http://www.teachersnotebook.com/shop/teachersdesk6

And speaking of linkies.....

I'm hosting a BRAND NEW linky: School Story. Hop over to THIS BLOG POST to read all about it and join in.





Happy Blogging,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6

May 27, 2013

It's Monday and I Must Have...

Once again I'm linking up with Sabra at Teaching with a Touch of Twang for Monday Must Have's. Last week I listed my top three "office supply" must have's. This week I'm going electronic and listing my top four "techie" must have's. Here goes...

1. The Hat... Put away your popsicle sticks, cards, whatever you use to select students at random. The Hat is a simple but VERY effective Windows program available for FREE from Harmony Hollow Software that allows teachers to randomly select individual names or pairs of students to the accompaniment of cool sound effects. You can input multiple lists then edit them as needed. 


2. Google Websites is part of the suite of tools offered by Google. Similar to Blogger and just as easy to use, Google Sites allows you to create and maintain a FREE website. For years I had hosted The Teacher's Desk website, which I paid for... Silly me! Two years ago I discovered Google Sites, closed my paid site and opened The Teachers' Desk 6, a site for my sixth graders and their parents... my blog is an offshoot of this site.



3. Pinterest... What in the world did I do before Pinterest? I drowned in browser bookmarks is what I did! I would find a great idea, bookmark it, and move on to another idea and another and another. When I would try to find that one perfect idea I had saved it would be a monumental task. With Pinterest it is easy to sort and store, pin and find any idea! Have a go through my Education Ideas board, my Language Arts board, and my Writing Prompts board... pin away!







4. Google Chrome... I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this Internet web browser. I use it on all my computers. What I bookmark at school is found on my computer at home. No matter where I surf the web my history is maintained and I can track where I've visited. I have a TON of apps installed that allow me to play games, read my RSS feed, create photo collages, access my Kindle, et al., AND it's all synced with every device on which I use Chrome!  It has made my techie life so much more simple!




Happy Monday,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6



May 25, 2013

School Year Memory Book FREEBIE

I always like my sixers to do an end of the year review, not as a test, but so they see how much they have accomplished and experienced throughout the entire school year. In the past I have had them make lists, flow charts, mock filmstrips, among other things. This year I decided to have them make and complete a memory book.

I'm asking them to brainstorm as many things as they can remember for each month of the school year using this planning sheet. Their memories can be activities they did or things they learned. If you would like a copy of the planning sheet, for your students to make memory books, you can download it HERE or by clicking on its graphic.



The next step will be to use their planning sheet to complete the actual memory book. In their memory books my sixers will draw pictures, create collages, or place photos they may have taken. They will then write a brief paragraph about each month. I'm interested in what they will write. The directions are very open-ended. I'm looking to see what skills they will use without me reminding them. We've spent a great deal of time the last two years (I have students in both grade five and grade six Language Arts) developing the traits of good writing.

I've developed a simple assessment tool to use for evaluating the memory books when they are finished. I'm only offering it HERE for my blog visitors and followers. The areas of assessment follow the traits of good writing: organization, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, presentation. I omitted voice and ideas, needing only five for my purposes. I'm using a simple Likert scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being OUTSTANDING and 1 being POOR. I consistently use tools like this with my sixers so they are comfortable with them as are their parents.


The complete memory book is available to download from either my Teachers Pay Teachers Store or my Teacher's Notebook Shop. Here's what pages 1 and 2 look like. The font I used is my new favorite. It's called LL Elementary Dots and comes from Erin over at I'm Lovin' Lit. The frames, black and white doodles, are courtesy of Krista Wallden.



The pages print in black and white so they are easy on printers and copy machines. The booklet is simple to assemble so students are able to do the work themselves. Each page is folded in half and compiled within a cover. There's even a blank page for gathering autographs from classmates. I'm anxious to have my sixers get started on their School Year Memory Books, but I'd better wait just a little while longer, or there will be just TOO much end of the year excitement, TOO soon!

Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6




Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Freebie Fridays

May 22, 2013

It's Wednesday; Must Be Pinterest Time!

I have to laugh at myself AGAIN... well, actually, I do this A LOT! It's about Pinterest, you see. In my area of the U.S. we pronounce PINTEREST as "pin-tuh-rest" which sounds a little like "pin to rest." That's what makes me laugh... 'cause I do anything but rest when it comes to pinning! I've been VERY busy again this week, finding all kinds of shabby chic STUFF to keep me busy over the summer. Here's a sampling:














And then, just because I LOVE these two, so close to home...





And now, oh my goodness! I just read in an email message this morning that Pinterest is improving its pins! Be still my heart! A better Pinterest? I will never get off of this machine!

Happy Pinteresting,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6



May 20, 2013

Must Have Monday

I'm linking up with Sabra over at Teaching with a Touch of Twang for a brand new linky party that she is hosting.



Here are just three of my classroom/teaching Must Have's... I emphasize JUST and THREE... I have a LOT!!!!



1. I can not live without my newest Must Have: whiteboard crayons. LOVE them! They have NO odor and do NOT smear or rub off when a student accidentally brushes against the board.


2. I Must Have my post-it notes in ALL sizes and colors. I use them for EVERYTHING, from notes to grading slips, from crafts to learning tools. My co-workers call me the queen of post-it's.



3.  I Must Have index cards. Again I use them for EVERYTHING, from notes to assessment tools, from response booklets to YOU NAME IT!


I'm going to enjoy reading all the other Must Have's posted at this linky! I'm looking for some NEW Must Have's for next year!

Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6






May 19, 2013

Memorial Day FREEBIE

Many of you know that my sixers love mystery pictures! Like, CRAZY love them! They think it's the best way to practice parts of speech and other drill type Language Arts skills. I've been working on some summer related mystery pictures that I'm sending home over the summer with both my fifth and sixth graders, and thought I should take time out to make at least one picture for Memorial Day. It's nothing fancy, just some patriotic bunting, practicing nouns, verbs, and adjectives. If you are interested you can download it HERE or by clicking on the graphic.


If you like this design, you might like another that I recently created. It features a soldier in battle fatigue and also has students practicing parts of speech: singular and plural nouns and present, past, and future tense verbs. It is available for purchase in both my TpT Store and Teacher's Notebook Shop.




Happy Memorial Day,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6


Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Freebie Fridays

May 15, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting... Summer Break is Coming!

My attention span is shortening just as the daylight is increasing. It's hard for me to keep my attention on job-related things. My lesson plans are getting scarcer, graded papers are getting fewer while the ungraded pile is getting larger... but learning and teaching continues... for 16 days, not counting weekends. Pinteresting, on the other hand, is increasing. LOL! However,  my pins are taking on the look of home projects instead of teaching projects. Here are just a few of this week's pins:
















Wait a minute! Summer break? It looks like I'm pinning WORK! Maybe I'd better stay away from Pinterest! NAH!

Here's another, but DEFINITELY just for fun!!



Happy Pinning,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6



May 12, 2013

Animoto: a GREAT Teacher Tool!



One of the best technology "things" that I've stumbled upon in the past few years is a video processing site called Animoto. If you have not seen this website I encourage you to hop on over and check it out. It allows the user to create 30 second video slideshows featuring original photos and/or downloaded pics from the internet. Paid subscription accounts are also available, but Animoto does a great service for educators. Teachers can apply for FREEBIE educational accounts for themselves and their students that allow them to develop videos of longer length. Education accounts are similar to a paid account with a few very minor exception. The one drawback to the educational account is that it expires at the end of six months. Teachers can renew their accounts and their student accounts but it is a bit of a process. My suggestion to Animoto is that they increase the length of the account to one year, or at the least nine months.

One of the first videos that I created is this brief one that I used with my fifth grade class last year as we were delving into Newbery Literature. I have a great poster that features all of the Newbery award winning books from the inception of the award through 2012, but I wanted a video to capture the attention of my fivers. They loved music and singing and all things technology. Animoto was the perfect tool for me to whip up a quick video to accompany my lessons. This was playing when they entered the room. They LOVED it! If I recall I think I played it four or five times before I could go on with the lesson.




Animoto is exceptionally easy to use. Animoto provides an instructional video but I chose to skip it since I found the site quite intuitive. Additionally, there are several good tutorials on YouTube for anyone who likes step-by-step instructions. Just use any internet search engine to locate them or go directly to YouTube to search.

Animoto's interface is user friendly and works similarly to a typical word processing program. To begin a project you select a template. Depending on the type of account you have will depend on the kind of template that you may select. Free accounts have far fewer choices and fewer privileges, however, stunning videos can still be created. The next step requires the selection of photos, either from Animoto's vast onsite collection or by uploading your own. Snippets of videos can even be added if there is enough time available in your project (this is where it is advantageous to have an education account). Each template has a pre-selected audio file. This, too, can be changed. You may select from Animoto's list of musical pieces (a rather limited database) or once again, your own. Finally, you can tweak your video using a few special effects, the variety and number vary with the type of account you are using, and then produce it.

Your video can be shared on social media site, such as FaceBook, with the click of a button or embedded in blogs and websites with HTML code. Individual video links can even be shared via email by copying and pasting the web address. Education and paid account users can even download their videos for playback on PC's and handheld devices.

The following three Animoto videos were completed as an assignment by sixth graders. The class had been reading realistic/historical fiction centered on the Holocaust. We had spent time learning and researching actual historical evidence (newsreel videos, history texts, personal memoirs, et al.) and comparing this with the fictional text in The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen. My sixers could select from several methods of presenting what they learned: an Animoto video, a powerpoint presentation, or a Social Media book response (something I developed and is available for purchase in my TpT Store and Teacher's Notebook Shop). This assignment was very open-ended. I really was interested in seeing what my kiddos would do without strict parameters. I had spent the year developing these types of projects with them, giving specific directions and instructions. They had made Animoto videos before, had watched me use and demonstrate PowerPoint, and the Social Media book responses were patterned after Pinterest, FaceBook, and Muzy, all sites I used with them on a weekly basis.






Make your own slideshow with music at Animoto.


Needless to say, I was quite pleased with what they had produced. The only complaint I have is that some took an improper shortcut to their image citations, simply stating they got their images from Google, even after I had talked and talked about this over and over, off and on, all year... get my frustration? I would've required those who had taken this shortcut to make corrections, but their accounts had expired on Sunday, May 5th... thus my suggestion to Animoto as I mentioned above.

If you are interested in using Animoto with your students you might be interested in seeing a few of the items that I use with my sixers as I first begin teaching them about making videos. The first project that they do is making a book trailer, patterned after a Hollywood film trailer. You can download the instruction sheet HERE and the assessment tool to accompany the project HERE or by clicking on the individual graphics. These items might provide some help for you as you begin developing video projects with your students.




Do any of you use Animoto? What are some ways that you use it with your class? Do you use any other video websites? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6



Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Teach Junkie Creative Ideas

Freebie Fridays

May 7, 2013

Yet again... Pinterest and a FREEBIE!!!

I am crazy about Pinterest!!! It's gotten to the point that both my fifth and sixth graders will ask if the idea I am sharing with them came from Pinterest. I'm crazy to the extent that I've begun creating some "worksheets" featuring Pinterest boards.

Here's one I just finished that is a book report. It's actually part of a set of Social Media Book Reports that I'm offering in my TpT Store and Teacher's Notebook Shop. The complete set of book reports contains not only the Pinterest design, but also designs for an iPod, Facebook, and Muzy. My sixers have really liked doing these reports. They are just as crazy about social media as I am, maybe more... NAH!

You can download the Pinterest FREEBIE HERE or by clicking on the graphic.


Here are just a few things I've been pinning this week. It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that...












Happy Pinteresting,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6


Freebie Fridays

Teach Junkie Creative Ideas


May 3, 2013

Mother's Day FREEBIE

I've been working on my Paragraph a Week program, plowing through the myriad topics, formatting and organizing them. Will I meet my original completion goal (mid-summer 2013)? MAYBE! Here's another FREEBIE from PaW just in time for Mother's Day. You can download it HERE or by clicking on the graphic.



Happy Mother's Day,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6

Freebie Fridays



Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

May 2, 2013

Currently May and May Goals

I've been looking forward to the first of May since last month when I joined Farley's Currently for the first time. I've loved visiting the many blogs (I've added a LOT to my favorites list in the sidebar), gathering ideas, and making some new bloggy friends. I was already to do my May Currently Tuesday, April 30th. THEN, yesterday, May 1st.... didn't I go and fall asleep in my chair. I never got on my computer to link up. Ah well, it's still early in May, so here's my currently! Thanks, Farley, for cookin' up this great idea! LOVIN' IT!!!!!


LISTENING to a fan. What a sweet sound! It's warm, it's not raining, there's no snow in the forecast. I've got flip flops on my feet and Kool Aid in my glass. Life is good!

LOVING my new bathroom. Today it was finally finished, a project I began planning two years ago.


And here it is now...

THINKING about going up to my new bathroom and taking a shower!  I'm obsessed, what can I say?

WANTING summer break to come quickly! I love my sixers, but it's time! I've worked with this batch of kiddos for three years, from fourth grade science through fifth grade Language Arts and then on to sixth grade Science, Religion, Language Arts, and gym. It's time.

NEEDING to get lots of work done: laundry, dusting, vacuuming, practicing my piano (work? hmmm? gotta slide some fun in, right?), painting the kitchen (and a dozen other things)... see why I want summer break to come quickly?

SUMMER BUCKET LIST: I want to read for enjoyment. I want to read everything and anything that does not contain the phrase "Common Core State Standards."

While traveling through the Currently May links I found another great monthly linky over at I {heart} Recess. This one focuses on goals for the month. Oh my, do I need to set some goals! Here goes:


PERSONAL: I need to practice my piano playing more. Last May I was gifted with a beautiful piano; I had wanted one for YEARS! I originally set the goal that I wanted to be able to play the piano at one of our school masses this year... didn't happen... not yet, not this year. I am a musician and every few years I teach myself how to play an instrument. Normally it takes me just a couple of months to learn an instrument well enough to be able to play for mass or in a group of people. The piano is taking me a LITTLE longer. I can play songs, just not fluently... it's as if I have a bit of a stutter. Next school year for sure!

HEALTH: I live alone. I have a BAD habit of not cooking for myself. Instead I'll pick something up... something usually not so healthy. Gotta change!

BLOGGING: I want to be able to plan my posts a week or two ahead of time, get them keyed in, and scheduled! Then I'll be able to visit blogs more frequently and leave some comments. That's most of the fun anyway.

SCHOOL: Plan, plan, plan... it's that time of the year when I get sloppy. After teaching for 32 years... well... you know... bad habits, spring fever.... just like my sixers!!!!

FUN: The most fun I EVER, EVER have is spending time with my family and friends (my family loves my friends and my friends love my family). We laugh, and laugh, and laugh.... what's that old adage? Laughter is the best medicine! You betcha!


Happy May,
Happy Teaching,
Angela
The Teacher's Desk 6