Surviving Sixth Grade

A Sixth Grade Teacher's Reflection of Her Students, the World of Education, and Life in General.

Entries Tagged as 'Back To School'

Teacher Week ’13 – Taming the Wild

August 15, 2013 by Mrs. Jeff · 3 Comments · Back To School, Linky Party, Reflections, Technology

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It’s day 4 of Teacher Week ’13! Hosted by Blog Hoppin’, today’s topic focuses on Classroom Management.

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Being the daughter, neice, and cousin of teachers, I was able to see first hand what excellent classroom management looked like. I was also blessed with an awesome partner teacher my first three years of school and was able to see on  a daily basis what good classroom management looked like.

I’ve have done quite a few different things for my management plans, starting with Harry Wong (whom I {puffy} heart love) to my current management plan – Class Dojo and Jefferson’s Bucks (which I {puffy} heart love)! :-)

I’ve talked about Class Dojo before. Since I’ve already posted about Class Dojo, I’m going to link up with First Grade Parade for her Throwback Thursday as well!

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Originally posted February 13, 2013
I use Class Dojo as a part of my classroom behavior management system. What is Class Dojo you might ask? ClassDojo is an online program that allows you to provide immediate feedback for student behavior (positive and negative). It enables you to easily award and record points, achievements and rewards for behavior and performance in class in real-time, with just one click of your computer, smartphone, or mobile device.

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ClassDojo provides instant visual and audible notifications for your students, in addition to allowing you to keep the feedback over a period of time. It also allows you to decide what behaviors you find important and award points that way. And it’s so easy to set up. You can copy and paste your class roster from almost any document – even a PDF!

Since my laptop is continuously hooked to my projector and Promethean board, students can constantly see their progress. And even if the screen is on something else they can hear the ding or dong that comes from points being awarded!

My ClassDojo points are connected to my Jefferson’s Bucks. Having a certain amount of Jefferson’s Bucks allows them entry into “The Jefferson’s Jam!” Every week, students’ individual points turn into money. But, I also added a component that ensures the class works together. At the end of the week, the class percentage allows them to be able to multiply their points for more money. 80-89% class percentage? They can multiply their points by 2. 90-99% class percentage? They can multiply their points by 3. 100% class percentage (which has happened once). They can multiply their points by 4.

We had our second quarter Jefferson’s Jam on Friday and the kids had a blast! Students can order subs or pizza, as well as bring in other treats for the party. It has a zero cost for me – all I have to do is set the date, determine the participants, and order and pick up the food!

Check out our party video here:

We spent a great deal of time outside, and as I looked around I was shocked at the amount of litter out there! So I created an impromptu community service project. We did a trash clean up right on the spot! I made it a competition though, because who wants to pick up trash at a party? Students were put into teams and the team that collected the most trash would get a prize. Needless to say after 3 minutes, the playground yard was immaculate, and every attendee is officially $100 richer in Jefferson’s Bucks! They all did such an awesome job, I couldn’t decide!

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I’ve already uploaded my students into Class Dojo for this upcoming week and I am ready to go!  Haven’t tried Class Dojo yet *gasp*?  Head over there and give it a try!

Until the next time,

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Teacher Week ’13 – Organizing for Instruction

August 14, 2013 by Mrs. Jeff · 1 Comment · Back To School, Linky Party

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It’s Day 3 of Teacher Week!! Hosted by Blog Hoppin’, today’s topic is Organizing for Instruction.

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I’m going to talk about my plan for student data organization. In the past I’ve had 2 to 3 crates in the back of my classroom where each child has a folder that I keep assessments, testing data, signed documents, etc. Well, no more! This year I plan to use Evernote as my digital portfolios.

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Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. A “note” can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can be sorted into folders, then tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched and exported as part of a notebook.
(Wikipedia)

Evernote also allows you to sync across platforms: computers, tablets, and smart phones. There are so many different ways you can put data in Evernote; you can even email it into a specific notebook!

I’ve had Evernote on my devices for about three years, although I hadn’t done much with it. A few notes here and there. I felt like there had to be more than this and then BOOM! I realized there was. Last year I attended an Evernote workshop where fellow educators introduced me to “stacks”.

Think about those crates previously in the back of my room….. The “stacks” are the crates. The “notebooks” are those Manila folders. The “notes” are all those pieces of paper we stuff in those folders. Get it?

Here’s a pic of a portion on my Evernote setup. See where I have 103 notebooks in the stack? Each child has their own notebook.

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Each notebook uses the same format: Class Period – Last Name, First Name. That way the folders are grouped alphabetically by the period.

See?

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What are some ways you’re planning on organizing your instruction? Head over to Blog Hoppin’ and link up! I can’t wait to see your awesome ideas!

Until the next time,

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Teacher Week ’13 – Meet The Teacher

August 12, 2013 by Mrs. Jeff · 2 Comments · Back To School, Linky Party

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I can’t believe that it’s already Teacher Week hosted by Blog Hoppin’!  They’ll have a different topic everyday this week, so make sure you head on over to link up!

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Today is my last official day of vacation, which I’m spending two hours of it in a training! Couldn’t even sleep in today! :-( Dropped DD off to daycare and headed to a chiropractor appointment.  Gonna spend the time in between on today’s Teacher Week Topic:  Meet the Teacher!

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1.  I’ve been an educator for 17 years!  I started out teaching 6th grade in NC, then jumped to 8th grade 3 years later.  I spent five years as a facilitator and then back to 6th grade – in SC!  This is my fourth year back as a 6th grade teacher and I absolutely love it!  I work for an awesome school, principal, and have the most amazing team!

6th Grade Team

My Team….My Girls!

2.  I absolutely love middle school!  I’ve always taught sixth grade where they were a part of the middle school concept and wouldn’t have it any other way.  Although I love all my kids….I {heart} love the boys!  The badder the better!

Me and the my boys!

Me and my boys!

 

3.  I’m definitely a techie geek!  I love all things technology. Phone, iPod touch, iPad, and a Computer are constantly in my reach.  I need to “unplug” myself every now and then, but I just can’t seem to do it!  Just ask my kiddos!

4.  I have a wonderful husband and the most amazing daughter on the face of this planet.  When DD was born, hubby immediately took the night shift!  He is an awesome father, too!  DD was diagnosed with autism when she was three.  Thanks to her school district, she has received the best services and is now heading into 2nd grade in a resource placement!  She amazes me everyday with what she can do!

Hubby, Me, and DD at Sweet Frog!

Hubby, Me, and DD at Sweet Frog!

 

5.  My entire family is pretty amazing!  They are so supportive of us!  I don’t know what I would do without any of them.  I’ve been teaching for 17 years and my parents still come and support me and my students.  They even came to our PASS Pep Rally because I told them how hard the kids had worked.  And before you ask….YES! I’m spoiled rotten! :-)

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Me, Dad, Mom, Bro

 

6.  I have FOUR best friends!  Three of us have known each other pretty much all our lives and I meet the fourth one in G/T when I was in the fifth grade.  We have been the 2-Hype Posse since 1990!  I love these girls to death!

Our last wedding! :-)

Our last wedding! :-)

 

7.  I’m a sorority girl! Although I love all my sisters I have a special place in my heart for those 12 girls that went through the fire with me! We meet once a year for a sister’s weekend and have the best time!

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8.  I used to be a part of a girl group when I was in college.  We even performed at the Apollo Theatre in New York.  That was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve ever had in my life.  Disappointed that we didn’t win, we went to Atlantic City for a little excitement!  And boy did we ever!

ENCORE….circa 1994

9.  I love to shop, but as I’ve gotten older (and have to wrestle with a 7 year old), I much prefer internet shopping.  I get so excited when Mr. UPS stops by my house….don’t you?

10.  I’m the ultimate procrastinator!  But I’m going to stop that…..tomorrow…ha!

Well, that’s it!  If you have the time, please head over to Blog Hoppin’ link up and let me find out all about you!

Until the next time,

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Back to School Mentor Texts {Linky Party}

June 30, 2013 by Mrs. Jeff · 2 Comments · Back To School, Book Reviews, Linky Party

Look at us! Here it is not even July yet, and we’re in planning mode! I’m joining up with Collaboration Cuties and their Mentor Text linky party!

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On Friday I linked up with First Grade and Fabulous for her Picture Books Linky Party.  I highlighted the following books their that I use on the First Days of School:  Big Plans, First Day Jitters, and The Teacher From the Black Lagoon.  Click here to read that post and find out more info on these awesome books!

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Don’t forget!  My “Bloglovin’ Giveaway” ends tonight!  Click on the picture below to join in if you haven’t yet!  That $10 Amazon gift card just might have your name on it! :-)

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Until the next time,

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A Look Into My Classrooms

August 23, 2012 by Mrs. Jeff · No Comments · Back To School, Technology

I wanted to give you a chance to see what my classrooms looked like, but I hated the idea of a bunch of scrolling. So I decided to create a video using Animoto.

Enjoy!

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Monday Made It #11 and My Green Wall!

August 13, 2012 by Mrs. Jeff · No Comments · Back To School, Linky Party, Monday Made It

Two weeks in a row! I am so proud of myself. I am linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics  for Week Eleven of Monday Made It! I have seen this idea around pinterest (My PD guide), and thought it was adorable.

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These babies will be hanging from my ceiling by tomorrow! :-)

In other news, my green wall is almost done!
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I am constantly in awe of the cohesiveness of my school. Our 8th grade Math teacher took pity on me and helped me out. When I showed him my quart or paint he looked at me in disbelief. He didn’t realize that I only intended to paint a portion of the wall. It will be finished by tomorrow and I am as happy as a kid in a candy store!

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The Moment of Truth Arrives….

July 31, 2012 by Mrs. Jeff · 2 Comments · Back To School

 

6th Grade Academy Participants

After weeks of planning and hours of eating, sleeping, and begging – we were able to see the fruits of our labor Operation Sixth Grade Transition Academy initiated! :-).  Although not perfect, everything went wonderfully! 

When students first entered into the gym, my principal had music playing.  The bus was late, but that was actually a good thing – because it allowed us to be able to get ourselves together (personal hectic morning).  Once we began, he welcomed everyone and reviewed our school motto:  Tiger PRIDE.  Then he introduced faculty and staff members who were present and our student ambassadors. 

After that, we participated in a few team building activities.  This year we are implementing the “Full Value Contract”.  The components include:  Play Hard, Play Fair, Play Safe, and Have Fun!  If students follow these four components we should have minimum problems during group activities.  We then dismissed students into their homeroom classes for our activities.

We did find that we had under estimated our time – but we revised the schedule for today to play catch up.  Yesterday, half the students participated in a school tour and a Who’s Who Scavenger Hunt – while the other half organized their school notebooks.  Today, we switched roles the first part of the morning and then spent the latter part of the morning working with lockers…..whew!

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I was able to take information from my Daily 5 reading and practice, practice, practice procedures.  Students demonstrated the correct model for a procedure, then I had another group of students model the incorrect model followed by the correct model.  Eureka!  It worked!  Why didn’t I think of this before?

Reason number one million and one that I LOVE my principal?  After paying for student materials, food, and t-shirts my principal found money to pay us (our 6th grade team) for our time on yesterday and today……Booooyaaaaah!  Isn’t he the greatest?

After these two days – I am exhausted!  It felt like the first day of school…..two weeks early!  But, the students felt the camp was so beneficial and so did we.  But I guess only time will tell….

 

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Transition Camp…The Days Before…..

July 28, 2012 by Mrs. Jeff · 2 Comments · Back To School

Binder Covers and Spines

On Friday two teammates and I visited the school to prepare for our 6th grade transition academy. If you haven’t read my earlier post, click here to play catch up. We were fortunate to also have two former students join us in this monumental task.

As we walked into the workroom, we faced at least 25 boxes full of the supplies we ordered. That didn’t even include the boxes that were still packed in my trunk. Unbelievably, we got everything down to our hall in three short trips. While the girls organized the purchased materials, my teammates and I handled paper work. Between the five of us we were able to:

  • Set up the students’ binders with paper and tab dividers
  • Create a spread sheet for all the students who pre-registered…
  • Create labels to place on the T-shirts (which are being printed as I type and look fabulous!)….
  • Assign lockers to all the students and create locker labels with the locker number and combination. These labels will be placed on notecards for them to slide in their binder…and
  • Create, print, and copy binder covers and spine cards!

Binders and Materials

The binder covers and spines look fabulous (if I do say so myself)! We used our school colors (blue and gold) for the spine so they an distinguish between the binders and red covers. Our students wear uniforms and this year the 6th grade polos are red. We had to go back in today…*gasp* on Sunday to finish, but I’m very excited about what we have done. The positive side to the creation of this academy is that we have created an activity that we think will be very helpful to our students (who go from no class changes to six in one year).The negative is…..MY ROOM IS A MESS!

Unfortunately, my students will walk into a bare classroom on Monday….but boy will they be surprised when they walk in on August 20th! When I walk out that classroom on Thursday the goal is for both my rooms to be 80% complete or better! But, that conversation will have to be another post….

Cross your fingers and wish us luck….the adventure begins on Monday…..

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Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! (Back to School Linky Party)

July 25, 2012 by Mrs. Jeff · 2 Comments · Back To School

I’m jumping in feet first (as I usually do) with the idea of being a part of a linky party.  Ms. Crouse at Sixth Grade All Stars, is hosting a linky party discussing ideas for back to school.  She is a first year teacher and is super excited about the unbelievable journey she is embarking upon.  I had the best support system as a first year teacher and feel it is my responsibility to return the favor as many times as possible.

Guide to participating in the linky party:

1. Post about this linky party on your blog

2. Follow her blog ({6th Grade} All-Stars) (and mine as well :-) )

3. Answer the following 5 questions (include documents if you have them):

- What grade do you teach?
6th Grade English Language Arts
- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? 
I think the greatest advice I’ve ever received wasn’t actually in words – but in actions.  So many of the teachers I have worked with (and continue to work with) always did what was in the best interest of children – even if it meant more work for themselves.
- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?
I make a checklist – but I can never find it when I need it (kinda like my grocery list)! And even though I’ve been teaching for 15 years, I change it up every year.  One staple the I open up and read every year is Harry K. Wong’s First Days of School.  The information in that book continues to be relevant and reliable.
I also found a couple of sites that have checklists that I think would be helpful to teachers.  I’m listing a few of them below:
- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)?
In the past, I would put up posters all over the classroom before the students walked into the room.  I will still put a few posters up (mostly inspiring quotes), but I plan to leave a lot more space to the anchor charts we will create together.  I cannot live without my iPad (I have so many apps that I use to make the classroom run easier), Class Dojo (an online management system), a robust classroom library and the following picture books:
Oh, The Places You Can Go!
First Day Jitters
The Teacher From the Black Lagoon (which also has a video that you can find on youtube or schooltube)
Chrysanthemum
Big Plans
Spoon
The Recess Queen
Amazing Grace
I use many of those books during the first week of school to introduce various themes that help us discuss community, relationships, and goals.
- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom?
A positive attitude, consistency, and a plan for early finishers! :-)

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