Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break Envy and a Biography Bottle Buddy

    I have to admit as I have been stalking all the amazing educator blogs that I am a bit jealous of all those that have had or are on spring break.  We are still plugging away, but boy my kids are rock stars!  Not only have they completed a wide variety of acronym labeled assessments, they haven’t let the amazing spring weather deter them….too much…from having a positive learning attitude!  My positive learning attitude is hopefully displaying energetic, but that is due to major consumption of caffeine.  (I asked for a direct coffee iv to the heart today, but she just laughed...umm, I wasn't joking...) Thankfully, break is in sight.  Only 4 days…30 hours…1800 minutes…but who is counting? :D
    Interested in a unique way to have student’s present biography reports?  How about a bottle buddy? (No, I’m not talking about what we sometimes wish for as we grade, file massive amounts of paperwork, and deal with the ever increasing number of assessments…) I’m talking about a biography bottle buddy; think Austin Power’s Mini Me. I don't have any pictures yet, but Google, Bing, or Use a lifeline to check out the adorable examples on the web.  Using an empty bottle, foam craft ball, and an exciting amount of craft supplies, students will be creating a miniature replica of their famous person.  Putting sand in the bottom of the bottle is a must to keep them standing. This is a fun addition to a rigorous curriculum. 

Click here for the free download of a parent letter and rubric

    In addition to the biography buddy, my students will be doing   “A Living Biography". Each month, or so, depending on you guessed it, our assessments, my students work on a home project that correlates to our standards and GVC.  In previous years they have done the presentation as a “Dead Famous American,” but I had many students interested in a variety of non-Americans.  Who am I to stand in the way of learning? Especially student directed learning! 

I am including the free download of the parent letter and rubric explaining the projects and the rubric I created.  Truthfully, my kiddos are a bit burned out, so I changed the writing portion from an expository essay to an acrostic poem.  The expository essay would have been perfect as we have been working on accurately quoting, works sited, using evidence from text, etc. but my parents didn’t raise a dummy, and as I mentioned before… did I mention?…assessments….lots of them…no spring break….

On a final note, but just as exciting; I will be helping to contribute to 3-6 Free Resources.  This is the great new site with the cute coffee theme that I posted about last week as I rambled late into the night.   Come check out some wonderful ideas and free resources for 3-6 classrooms!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Coffee Ramblings of a Linky Party and Giveaway

     Well, so much for an early night!  I just have to link up with 2 great blogs; both have 1 thing in common-my favorite morning beverage.  I know after yet another late night I'm going to need some coffee.  You know that I have coffee fever when my toddler starts shouting at my favorite local coffee drive-up barista, "My coffee! Want mmmyyyy coffeee!" No lie! Ask Kathy at The Coffee Cabin. Happened this morning in fact.  I'm guessing it is also not a good sign when students start writing journal prompts about Mrs. M's magic morning coffee.  Sigh...wish there was a delivery latte service right now...deep sigh...
     Moving on from that dwelling is a fun education blog with a coffee theme: 3-6 Free Reources is having a linky party to help alleviate the daily "grind" of teaching.  Who can't use more super ideas?


    The second and last link tonight (and I promise final for at least well, 24 hours) is from Think, Wonder, and Teach.  I met her through another linky party. See exhibit A for my "shocking" oops at that linky party. She is linked up with Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies to give away a $10 Starbucks card.  Pick me! Pick me! I am tempted to put in fake links for this post so that others can't have a chance at the card because I want it. " My coffee card! Want mmmmyyyyyy coooofffeeeee card!!!"


  I have now taken away another 2 hours of possible rest, but this blogging is well worth it!  My friend Tammy is going to have to get me my coffee IV in the morning for sure.  Night all!

Ding, Ding, Ding: A Technology Boxing Match and a Linky Retry

This has been a week of fighting technology.  Last week I had linked to Lorraine's 3rd-5th Grade Linky party, but half way through I heard a pop and sizzle...yes my CPU shorted out somehow. Guess it was one hot link! (I'm just thankful it wasn't the darn mouse that chewed all the wires on my car. Scroll to the bottom of the post to see that craziness!)  Needless to say, I wasn't able to finish following the directions per her website.  Now with a new CPU, new blog button (Yay me!!), and even a new blog design and header, I am trying to link again.  Sigh...and I was so excited to be in the lower numbers to link.  Oh well, 99-100 is a great link number!

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies- A Linky Party!

Well, since I have spent time that I should have been cleaning, doing laundry, playing with my little man, vegging on the couch a lot of time updating my blog and creating my blog button, I need to call it quits tonight.  My husband just asked me if he needed to join my site for me to talk to him.....well, that is a thought and I'd love more followers!   I promise to blog tomorrow with actual classroom ideas, ramblings, and hopefully a sense of humor tomorrow! 

Let me know what you think of my new Grab Button and Blog Header. First six to comment (hey- I only have 6 followers!) will get a free download of a Biography Bottle Buddy parent letter and rubric. Just leave your email with your comment. I will be posting the actual idea and instructions tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blog Button Vs. Me Round 2

    Ha! Yes, Ha!  Little blog button with html code thought itself was funny and tricky!  I showed it!  Got it to work! (Yes! There are LOTS of exclamation marks tonight!!!)  Now here is the sad thing....I decided I didn't like my button, so I pulled the button off of my blog until I could revamp it tomorrow.  Stay tuned for tomorrow's unveiling of a blog button.
    As a side note, this means that the last hours of fighting the evil blog button meant that my stack of papers to grade didn't get graded...going to bed after midnight and up early in the morning to grade.  The life of a teacher...Good night all!

Blog Button VS Me...Round 1

Grrr!  I need help! I have spent hours trying to create a blog button.  I created a jpeg with microsoft and picnik (not real cute though!) which I saved to my desktop..uploaded it to picassa web (per a tutorial), but had trouble finding the button URL.  Thought I had it, but it was a VERY strange URL...followed prompts to create code, got rid of smart quotes, added it to html widget picture shows up on blog, just a code.  Not sure the code even works.  HEEELLLLPPPP!!!  Any suggestions besides beating my CPU with a sledge hammer and calling it quits?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

State Assessments, A Little Crafty, and a LOT of Elk: More late night ramblings from this 5th grade teacher!

"Well, it is what it is." That has been running through my head the last several days as we work towards completing our state assessments. (I accidentally  typed competing instead of completing at first...hmmm, sure feels that way sometimes.)   I sure am proud of the effort and hard work of my students and ALL of our staff!   At this point, scores will be what they will be.  However, in my class, we will continue to learn practical application of skills taught, because that is part of my job.  Creating joyful life-long learners who have the skills needed to survive life and do what makes them passionate. (Hopefully that passion will also pay their bills! :D )  I just hope that this roller coaster of high stakes test at least mellows out to rational models of growth and focus on students getting a well rounded education.
A Scrappy Perpetual Type Calendar
   I created this calendar 8 years ago, it looks brand new, and is still so much fun!  This calendar is made up of 3x3inch squares of scrapbook paper.  Don't go cheap-use high quality cardstock.  Mine is from Bazil papers and has not faded!
     Each month has its own squares plus a month tag.  Normally I spruce the calendar with buttons, tags, or stickers, but kept it simple this month. I drew a border around each square with a black pen,  purposefully drawing the lines a bit wiggly so that when I staple them up, I don't have to worry about super straight rows and columns.
      Background is tulle and wrapping paper.  (Hint, plan in advance and staple up your Spring bulletin board papers first then layer with winter, fall, etc.  Makes life easier to just tear off a layer!)
 A 12 pocket folder works great for storing each month, plus embellishments.
 Using white or cream colored cardstock, again, don't go cheap, I add birthdays, events, and even quarterly GVC goals. (Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum in Wyoming acronyms.)  Some months I mix-and-match the cards which I can do because nothing is glued onto the 3x3 squares except the number. Plus, I'm just a rebel like that.
 What do you think?
     For teachers in my town or over the internet you can get the supplies at Life's Journey Scrapbooking.  Her March page kit design on her website is actual my page that I designed. Sorry for the plug, but I love Shannon and her family at Life's Journey.  Her daughter babysits my little man, and much to my hubby's chagrin L's first 3-syllable word was " Ackooking! Ackooking!" as we drove past the scrapbooking store! 

Thought I'd end tonight with some amazing pictures I took last weekend during a trip to Estes Park, Colorado.  Several of these bull elk were less than 20 feet away from us. For those who have never been to Estes, they have a MASSIVE herd of elk that wander the town and cause mischief.  Several years ago we watched the elk playing in the golf course sprinklers as golfers just golfed around them.  
 This beautiful guy just hung out and posed for my camera.  He was a great model and truly was as close as this picture seems!  (Well, within 20 feet!)
 Velvet is hanging off! 
Fuzzy shot, but what a neat picture; this guy had just lost 1 antler.

 Rattling the racks as the antlers become sheds.  
The guy on the right spotted me right after this picture. He puffed out his chest, widened his legs, dropped his head, and stared. I decided then and there that I was about to become a local who acted like one of those idiot tourists that make national news for trying to feed a bear or raise a panther as a child.  Needless to say, I was done snapping pictures. 
 Well, took a few more...Great view as we were leaving! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

3 Chicks, Oreos, and Coachzilla: The things we do for our home kids and our school kids!

         This weekend has been filled with BIG surprises!  Saturday I spent 3 hours in training for the Wyoming Education Association Delegate Assembly.  When I came home I found 3 baby chicks... yes 3 baby chicks and one very very very happy two year old!  "My chicks! My chicks!" The biggest surprise? My husband thought it would be a great idea to keep them in the two year old's bedroom.  Yes, please imagine how much sleep will be happening in this room.  I have to admit they are pretty cute, and will continue to be cute in Grandpa's chicken coop in a couple months.  If anyone has any suggestions for helping said toddler understand why Mommy won't let baby chicks take a nap with him, well....

         I promised some Coachzilla pics, so here goes.  Definitely not flattering, but the kids love when I turn into Coachzilla.  Coachzilla is a nickname a friend and coworker gave me a couple years ago.  I am the person that gets these amazing and wonderful ideas that usually involve sports, which I then proceed to harass convince my faithful friends to play.  Please keep in mind, our skill level is not necessarily um, skillful. Throughout the year our group plays women's softball and volleyball, coed softball and volleyball, coed soccer (skipped last year but ready this year!), 5K's, mud volleyball, bike events, fundraisers, volunteer meals for Ronald McD house, bunko groups, ....well, you get the point.
        Anyway, this year my kiddos needed some positive motivation, so Coachzilla showed up at school one day and now is a regular visitor to our classroom.  What crazy and embarrassing things do you find yourself doing for the sake of your students? (Someday if the magical people in blogland are lucky, or maybe unlucky, I'll post pics of myself doing my signature dance moves during a brain break. Oh, the envy you will have! :) 
"Let's Go! Let's Go! You can DOOOO it!!!"
**To My Staff Friends- Thanks to my co-Proctor for stepping up and stepping into a skirt.  No names, but he was a good sport and someday might get to pass the Coachzilla-in-Training test!**

      Have I every mentioned how much I love Pinterest?  Here is a fun activity we did the last 5 minutes of school during NEA's Read Across America.  Half an Oreo, vanilla frosting, and red Gummiesavers: a combination that sounds horrible, but makes fun Cat in the Hat hats!  After all the continuous hard work my students have put in everyday,  this was a welcome activity.  In fact several students even stayed late to make hats for siblings.  You know it is a hit when kids are willing to stay late on a Friday!

Click here for the link to the original idea! Fancy Frugal Life had this great craft!

Well, laundry still needs folded, so this is it for me tonight.  However, an FYI to my sports ladies from Coachzilla: Parks and Rec has adult kickball this summer-who's in?? I WILL be calling YOU!

Ok I can't resist...

Monday, March 5, 2012

What Would Mrs. M Do?

    Have to say that I was a little upset because I just saw another blog with the same title as mine.  Feel like imitating Little Man and stomping my feet. "Mine! Mine! Miiiinnneeee!!"  Checked it out and YES I started my blog before this other lady.  Guess this is one of those teachable moments where I need to think about what I would tell my students; and if that is the case I need to take the higher road and not get angry, frustrated, or tattle on her to Blogger. (Yes, I know that is a ridiculous thought.)  I would probably remind them that we represent our school and need to always show good sportsmanship.  Then I would go on to say to take pride in the work already done and not to give up.
      It is always good to remember that even as teachers or parents we need to be life-long learners of not only academics but those pesky social skills too.  (Though my friends know that it is KILLING me not to swing by her blog and post a sarcastic  witty remark about the coincidence. <<sigh>> I am a big girl. I am a big girl.  There can be two great 5th Grade Teachers that Ramble. Yes, I checked out her site and it is great! (See, I'm a big girl!)  Who knows, maybe we can become twin companion sites?  That's not a bad idea....really...I might have stumbled onto an interesting concept.
     Until that point however, it just means I need to get my act in gear and share some fabulous ideas and world changing thoughts. LOL!  (And my friends and family know that I am nothing if not COMPETITIVE, hence Coachzilla!)

          Stay tuned for tomorrow. Coachzilla and Coachzilla Junior will be visiting our classroom
                                     and last Friday we made adorable and yummy Dr. Seuss hats.

    Jumping on the linky wagon, and linking my blog to a Currently Post that is floating around blogland today. Check out my "Currently" poster.  Here is a link on how to play this game on your blog.  Teacher's Cauldron: How to

Night night all! See you tomorrow with some fun pictures from day 1 of Coachzilla in the classroom!