Teaching

Classroom Decor

Hi there!

Today, I’m sharing a few of the new ideas I used in my classroom this year!

I am all about going cheap on decorations. It’s easy to get carried away with a theme and buy tons of stuff. This year, I tried to reuse what I had in my classroom and spiced up boring signs by downloading free, cutesy fonts!

The past two years of teaching, I wasn’t too happy with the bulletin boards that I had decorated. They weren’t useful to my teaching and were more like “fillers” just to get something up. This year, I planned them out ahead of time (A novel idea, right?!) and am a lot happier with the results. They are far from being the desirable ones that I see on Pinterest, but I think they’re going to work a lot better for my students.

Here is what I call my “command center.” It’s where I post the date, our daily learning objectives and homework. I teach four sections of language arts (ELA) and one section of Foundations (F), which is like an introduction to middle school class for sixth graders only. This board is located right when you walk in my door, and I tell students that it should be the first thing they read upon entering my room. At the bottom, my first hour students can mark their lunch choice as they come in too!

IMG_4422.JPGNext, right beside my command center is my Exit Ticket board. This is something that I have seen on Pinterest so many times and finally decided to try.

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The idea is that some days at the end of class, I will give my students a slip of paper, an “exit ticket” to leaving my room. They will have to write a question they have about the lesson from that day or a fact they learned. As they leave, they place their slip in the appropriate folder for how well they understand that concept.

This will help me get an informal assessment of my students’ progress and understanding, and it will be a less embarrassing way for them to say “I don’t get it.” Many students are too embarrassed to say this during class, so now, they just have to slip their paper in the folder, and I can tell that I need to review or reteach certain things.

Next up, is the board I’m most excited for this year: the “Where will reading take you?” board!

IMG_4423.JPGAfter students read a book this year, I’m asking them to fill out a slip of paper with their name, the book title, and the settings where the book took place. At the end of each month, I will go through the bucket of slips and we will place pins on the map for each place that the book was set in!

I told them that my goal is to have the map covered by the end of the year, and many students seemed excited and willing to participate so I’m anxious to get this one underway! I hope this encourages some extra reading on their part as well!

My third bulletin board is for RACE writing, which our school adopted last year as the form of writing we will teach to all grades in middle school.

The point of this one is to be a resource for students as we practice RACE writing this year. You can see sentence starter ideas for the “C” and “E” parts. On the right, I will showcase excellent RACE responses that students write. We will try to showcase as many great examples as possible throughout the year.

IMG_4426.JPGAnd finally, this bulletin board is back by my teacher desk in the back of the classroom. I have kept it pretty much the same for my three years of teaching, just rearranging the order of things. I have some pictures and favorites quotes on this board.

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That cute pencil sign at the top of the board was a gift from my friend Renee last year. She made it herself, and I just love it- the perfect personal touch!

I also have a picture of myself in sixth grade on my desk. My students get a kick out of seeing “little” Mrs. Snyder.

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One thing I also do in my classroom is have a quote of the week on the board. I am a big quote person, and the students enjoy reading them and submitting their own favorite quotes for me to display.

The past two years, my students have told me that my room feels cozy and inviting, and that is my ultimate goal as a teacher! I want all of my students to know that they are in a safe place where they belong. While I might not have an all-out theme that I use in my room, I try to keep it bright and positive!

Have a wonderful day!

Question of the Day: Of the teachers you had in school, what made your favorite ones stand out?

Teaching

The First Few Days of School

I meant to blog about the first couple days of school last week, but as I said yesterday, I was wiped. I feel like I finally caught my breath during the weekend- just in time to start another week. 😉

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Going into this school year, I knew there were going to be some major changes to get used to this year. For one, our school district got a bond passed last year which included a one-to-one technology initiative for students. Each student in elementary school would have an iPad to work on, and students in middle and high school would get a MacBook Air to use. Our sixth graders got their MacBooks yesterday, and it’s a big learning curve- both for students and teachers.

Further, if you read my posts this summer, you saw me mention that this year’s sixth grade class is 80% boys. I was a little leery of how this would change the typical classroom dynamics.

After three days of school last week, here’s what I’m thinking:

This year is going to be chaotic…and exhausting.

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Year 3!

I see about 95 kids throughout the day (I have five class periods) and wowza, it’s a lot of boys. That’s an obvious one right?! I mean the class is 80% boys so I’m bound to have a bunch, but it didn’t hit me until they were in my classroom just how many that is. In a typical classroom size of 21-24 students, I have only about five girls in each.

And believe me, it makes a difference.

Sixth grade boys are fun and can be so sweet, but man, this year’s group is more fidgety, more talkative, and more goofy than any other group I’ve had. By my seventh hour class (the last class of the day), my boys literally cannot sit still. They need to be moving and are antsy to leave school. I’m going to have to get very creative to incorporate more moving activities in language arts. 🙂

It also seems like the grade, as a whole, has never been disciplined in the classroom. They don’t stop talking when the teacher talks and they don’t listen to directions. I know that some of it is bound to happen when dealing with this age group, but it’s way worse than usual. It’s like the rules don’t apply to them.

Don’t get me wrong- I have so many great students. They are funny and full of energy. They just don’t stop talking.

My coworkers and I have said that we need to start in on the detentions this week to whip them into shape, and I’m hoping that works. (Not feeling too hopeful yet, though after what I’ve seen from them.)

The other funny thing about this year is that I finally feel more relaxed about school stuff. For the past two years, I have been anxious to get everything planned and stressed that I’m not doing enough, etc. I already feel more of a calm this year that everything will get done and there’s no use worrying. I guess that means I’m finally getting this teacher thing down! (Talk to me next week, and I might be back to worrying, but as of right now, I’m embracing this calm, cool, and collected thing!).

So there you have it- many boys in class equals chatty, restless energy.

Pray for me to whip these kids into shape real soon so that I have some ounce of sanity left by the end. 😉

Check in tomorrow to see a few decorations and bulletin board ideas that I’ve used this year in my classroom!

Have a great day!

Question of the Day: Do you agree with giving students this young a technology device to use during school?

 

Weekend

Weekend Recap

Hello on this Monday morning! It’s been a little while!

I’ll admit that school has left me feeling swamped these first few days, and when I finally got home each night, I only had enough energy to cook dinner, shower, and get ready again for the next day.

Now that I had the weekend to get caught up on sleep a little, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle this week (I think!).

Pop in tomorrow to get a recap of the first few days of school this year. It’s going to be a interesting, crazy ride- wheh!

On Friday, I stayed late talking to coworkers (Basically all of us saying, “How are we going to get through this year? They’re all SO crazy!”) and by the time I got home, I crashed hard.

You know those nights where you only leave the couch to get food and drinks?

That was my Friday night. I got caught up on Bachelor in Paradise and had an early night. I think I’d forgotten how exhausting the first few days of school are!

On Saturday morning, Travis and I had planned to go hike the Konza. After we woke up though, we decided that a drive in the country sounded better so we loaded up with our respective thermoses and drove around Deep Creek Road, a scenic, windy road with beautiful views and houses. Ahh, to live in the country again someday is our dream!

When we got back, Travis was motivated to finish touching up paint around the exterior of the windows. I got some house cleaning and chores done that I had neglected during the week.

That night, after dinner, we decided to run and get groceries to get it over with. While we were in the checkout line, there were three boys (college age) behind us with probably 30 three-liters of pop and solo cups in their cart. Nothing made Trav and I feel more lame than seeing that- ha! While we were going to have a quiet evening, they looked like they were throwing the party of all parties.

We got home, watched a movie, and called it a night.

On Sunday, I made up some yummy acai bowls for breakfast. I like loading mine up with all the toppings, but Travis thought that was too “foofoo” for him and just wanted it in a cup. I love the frozen acai packets from Trader Joe’s. They’re an easy way to spice up a regular smoothie!

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That afternoon, I again did some cleaning while Travis painted some more (He feels like it’s never ending!).

Our fall ball started yesterday so we were off around 5 p.m. to start the new season. Truth be told, I would have been fine being done last month when summer ball stopped, but since we are signed up now, I am excited to playing in cooler temps. Hopefully I can get a little better though. My skills near the end of the season were lacking a bit!

After softball, it was back home to get ready for the week ahead!

Hope you had a great weekend and are ready to take on this week!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite sport to play?

Teaching

School is in Session!

Happy 1st Day of School (for Wamego at least!).

This year, our school is doing something different and today we only have sixth graders. It is an orientation or transition day to help them adjust to middle school. And let me tell you, there is definitely a transition for them. Between moving classes for the first time, using lockers, memorizing a lunch number…it overwhelms them. These first few weeks with sixth graders always test my patience. We usually have many students in tears over their lockers and the short passing periods.

I got to meet many of my students last night during “Supply Night” from 4-6 p.m. where students can come meet their teachers, practice their locker combination (and leave supplies), and walk their classes. Most of them have me very excited for this school year…most. 😉 I think I’m going to have my hands full with some of the many squirrelly boys- ha!

I’m going to keep this short, as it is late (Tuesday night) that I am writing this. We had some friends stop by yesterday evening and now, I still need to eat dinner and prep the last of my lessons. I feel like I’m so behind this year! Eeek!

Have a great day!

Question of the Day: Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

Teaching

Back-to-School Survey

Hello!

When I found out that I was going to teach sixth grade, my mom rounded up a box of things from when I was in sixth grade and gave them to me. Among them, I found a survey that I had done on the first day of my sixth grade year as a “get to know you” activity. I usually have my students do something similar to this on the first day as well.

I thought it would be fun to share my answers from when I was in sixth grade, a trip down memory lane, if you will. Enjoy!

Also, note that the teacher didn’t tell us to write in complete sentences for any of the questions….but I chose to anyway. I was born to be an English teacher, I guess. 😉

Name: Laura Brooke Sommers

Color of Hair: Auburn

Color of Eyes: Brown

Friends’ Names: Larissa, Bailey, Jessica, Courtney, Lanaya, Gabi, and Hannah

Favorite Time of Year: My favorite time of year is spring because it’s my birthday, and it’s not too hot, but not too cold either.

Favorite Sport: Skiing is really really fun and I love to do it!

Favorite Food and Drink: My favorite is Chicken Stir Fry and rice because once you taste it will want more and more and I like Cherry Limeades because they have a great taste and will wet your whistle!

Hobbies: Some of my favorite hobbies are playing with my dog, hanging with friends, swimming, going on the computer, driving things, talking to friends and more because they are really fun and I look forward to doing them.

Number and Kind of Pets: I have 2 pets – a Betta fish named Bubba and an Italian Greyhound named Maggie.

Favorite Color: My favorite color is pink because it is bright and pretty.

Favorite Flower: My favorite flower might be a lilac because they smell great and look pretty!

Favorite Tree:  I like palm trees because they look cool and remind me of summer time.

Favorite Time of Day: I like the early evening best because it’s nice and you can play and just relax outside.

Favorite Day of Week and Month: Saturday is my favorite day because you don’t have school and can just do anything you want and my favorite month is May because it is just fun and there’s lots to do.

Favorite Class: I like lunch and reading because in lunch you can talk to your friends and in reading I like to read and write stories.

Least Favorite Class: History is least favorite class because it is BORING!

Favorite Movie Star and Movie: My favorite movie star is Jennifer Garner since she is pretty and a really good actress and I love “13 Going on 30.” It’s so funny!

Favorite Song: I like a lot of songs and don’t really have a favorite.

Favorite Holiday: I like Christmas the best because you celebrate Jesus and it feels so cozy to be with all of your family and give gifts.

Favorite Animal: I’m a dog lover and penguins because they are adorable!

Favorite Plant: Trees give me a feeling of home.

It’s funny for me to look back at my responses and see what has changed. My answer about my favorite tree being a palm tree also makes me laugh. My nautical obsession started young too. 🙂

As we come into this new school year, maybe we all think back to our own middle school years and be glad that we are through them!

Have a great day!

Question of the Day: What do you remember from your own middle school days?

Weekend

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday!

I’m going to keep this recap nice and short today because our float trip wiped us out and I’m learning how to balance having a job again. 😉

On Friday, I had teacher in-service with PLC meetings all day. Eight riveting hours of meetings. Bleh. I always look forward to getting these PLC days over with and finally starting school.

After work on Friday, Travis and I laid low. We packed our gear for the float trip and watched some tv.

On Saturday, the big day was finally here! We were invited to do a float trip with Zach and Emily. They do an annual float trip with all of Zach’s brothers (There are six boys in that family!) and some friends. We felt lucky to be invited because it was a fun group!

We got to the river let-in spot around 9:30 a.m. and by the time some of the guys dropped off vehicles in St. George and made it back, it was after 10:00 a.m. Emily made over 150 jello shots for the float and we made our way through some of them as we waited for the guys to return!

In all, we had nineteen in the group this year. Can you spot me in the neon yellow?

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The day was seriously incredible to be on the water. It was in the low 80’s (and luckily it didn’t rain like the forecast called for!). We were never too hot, just comfortable! My pale skin was beyond thankful for that!

We rented two-person canoes. I had only done a float trip in a tube, but canoes were handy to have all of our stuff close by! Trav and I definitely over-packed though. We came back with over half of our drinks and probably 3/4 of our snacks! I think we could have stayed out there all weekend and been fine- ha!

Our group stopped at basically every sandbar to get in the water, talk, hangout, and throw the football around.

After about five hours of being on the water, we realized that we had only gone about a third of the way. (Apparently we were making a few too many sandbar stops!)

Here, Travis and Tyler had the right idea- living the life! (Stole your snap, Jess! I wasn’t brave enough to bring my phone.)

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We had been all tied together, just floating along at a snail’s pace, and with good music funny conversations, and countless jello shots, we were all having a blast. At about the halfway point, most people untied from other canoes and rowed ahead so that we could make some progress and not still be stuck on the river when it got dark.

Travis and I stayed tied to Jessica and Tyler’s canoe and we all four rowed together. The last hour or so of rowing was killer. We were all tired and sore- and the jello shots had run out. 😉 Our group of nine canoes kind of got split up too at this point. We were around the middle of the pack.

When we finally saw the parking lot, it was around 8 p.m.- about ten hours on the water!

I’m thankful to say that I went hard on the sunscreen and did not get a burn! The one thing I forgot to cover was my lips so I have some sore, hotdog lips going on right now, but I’m not complaining since the rest of me is fine!

Travis and I showered and crashed on the couch after we finally made it home around 9:30 p.m.

On Sunday, we kept it low key. We felt dehydrated and tired. Travis finished painting the windows! Woohoo!! (And he also hung some new curtains for me, which I love!)

I’ve got another day of meetings at school today. Let’s pray there’s a little more engaging than the ones of Friday! 🙂

Have a great Monday!

Question of the DayWould you prefer to do a float trip in a tube or a canoe?

Friday

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!

This week’s Friday Favorites is full of randomness. Bear with me because that’s where my mind is at. Going from summer mode to school mode takes time for me to adjust. 😉

one. I have in-service today at school- our all district breakfast, PLC meetings, etc. Riveting stuff, I tell you.

The picture below is a little too accurate! Any teachers out there are nodding their heads in agreement.

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two. Our float trip with friends is tomorrow! At first I was nervous that it would going to be too hot (because you know me and sun poisoning, not a good combo), but the forecast says the high will only be 79 degrees! Unfortunately, there is a seventy percent chance of rain. We are going to be riding in canoes, and I realllllly hope it doesn’t rain on us for the entire float, which will take about nine hours.

three. I saw this picture and it couldn’t be more accurate. I am the queen of completely losing track of the days during the summer. I constantly ask Travis, “Wait…is it Tuesday or is it Wednesday?” (and it will be like Thursday 😉 ). Everyday feels like Friday in the summer, but I better get myself in gear soon!

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four. Apparently, I’m digging the memes this week. This one made me laugh a little too much.

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five. In the spirit of back-to-school time, this video is too cute. Hope the little boy makes more than one friend this year! 😉 Go watch- I guarantee it will make you smile!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Question of the Day: What do you have planned for this weekend?