Sunday, November 1, 2015

November 2015 Currently at Carol's Garden

With November come's the smells of pumpkin spice everything, plans for the Thanksgiving holidays (I can't believe I get an ENTIRE week off this year!), and the first real stirring of Christmas gift-planning. Please join Farley and me for this month's CURRENTLY!

Listening: Aaron Copeland's Appalachian Spring is one of my favorite pieces of music. This famous American composer based this beautiful piece of music on an Amish song, "Simple Gifts." I found a YouTube version with some lovely images.

Loving: so grateful for my family, my new job, and all the "simple gifts" God has given me.

Thinking: about my first observation in my new school. Soon I will have a ten minute walk-through, as well. Boy, it felt good to get through with the first one! I feel so much anxiety every time! How about you?

Wanting: to be able to eat all my favorite chocolate foods without gaining weight. Hah!

Needing: to find a new doctor for my kids. Since we have moved, it has been an ordeal to try to find a pediatrician or behavioral therapist who specializes in autistic children to see my son. They exist. They are just all booked up for several months. They also don't take phone calls after hours to schedule appointments. Since I don't get home until at LEAST 5:30 p.m. each day, I'm having a very difficult time trying to take care of this. So far I have called entire pages of numbers during my lunch breaks, all to no avail.

Yummy - Although I love the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and the fresh cranberry sauce, my favorite has to be the candied yams. Yummy! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Now make sure to check out the other posts at the link-up at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

Oh Boy Fourth Grade

"See you" next time!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

September 2015 Currently with Carol's Garden!

It's past time to join the Currently party! I can tell I'm not the only one who has been busy with back-to-school! Facebook and Instagram have been loaded with posts showing teachers across the country preparing for the return of their classes.

I have been extremely fortunate this year to land in a fabulous school in a top-notch district. I have been so busy prepping for the move to my new town and school, that I've been away from my store and blog for awhile. I have posted a few pictures on my Instagram account, though. 

We're staying with my brother for awhile until we have time to find a new home closer to my school. In the meantime, I love watching and listening to the hummingbirds outside his back porch. They crack me up with their aerial battle over the sugar water.

These Little Guys Look Like Jet Fighters!
I love the fact that I am making time to update my blog! I love "seeing" you all!

I'm thinking about how much I love my class this year! My fourth graders have hearts of gold and truly care about one another. It is such a joy to be their teacher! I love this pep talk from Kid President, too!

Of course, I always want and need more time to do all the things I have planned for my classroom and for my own family. There's never enough time to accomplish all the things I want to do! Here's a picture of the first bulletin board I completed in my new classroom.

Three goals for myself include getting to bed earlier on school nights, getting all my school files fully organized, and getting ahead with my curriculum. Thankfully, my grade level is terrific about planning together, and we have aides to run copies, but I still feel like a first-year teacher in some ways.

Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoyed reading my Currently! Make sure to check out some of the other posts from Farley and the others at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

Oh Boy Fourth Grade
"See" you next time!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Archaeology and the Distant Past for Interactive Notebooks

This is a re-post of my blog from last year.

Time to plan the next Interactive Notebook lesson for 4th grade social studies! My teacher's manual recommends quite a few websites which show pictures of Native American petroglyphs, pictographs, and mud glyphs as a place to start. I linked all of the functioning sites to my Native American Pinterest board, which you can link to here, or simply click on the image below. (I'm constantly adding more resources to this board, so if you are reading this post long after I uploaded it, you might have to scroll down a bit to find these images.)

CG Fourth Grade Social Studies: Early Native Americans

You'll notice that the first two images on the board are books, including one called Archaeologists Dig for Clues. I don't see this book as a good read aloud, but I think it would be excellent for use in a  center. It explains why, where, when, and how archaeologists dig, and what they might find. It's also a small, inexpensive paperback, which makes it possible to purchase several copies for center use without breaking the bank.

To actually introduce the topic, I would instead use this short video about archaeological digs from Tennessee History for Kids. (It's not just for Tennessee.) Just click on the picture to reach the links.

Mississippian Dig Video

The nice thing about this site is that they provide links to the video in three different formats: QuickTime, Windows Media Player, or YouTube. I appreciate the options, as I've been at schools which don't allow one or more of these. Once you reach the page, scroll about halfway down until you see the matching picture. Then click on the desired link to watch the video.

I love how this video shows the steps used by archaeologists, from choosing a site, clearing the land, measuring it into grids, carefully excavating, then sifting through the dirt to find the artifacts.

Some students may wonder why scientists don't often find cloth or other "soft" items during a dig. This informational graph might be helpful. It shows the decay rates of everyday materials left behind by humans.

Decomposition Rates of Common Materials
The graph shows how natural materials, such as plant and animal fibers, decay much faster than man-made materials. While ancient people did not have the ability to create glass or plastic, they did leave behind bones and stone tools, as these items take much longer to decompose than skins or cloth.

I would introduce the lesson vocabulary, and give students these cards to complete during center time. One side of the cards has space for the vocabulary term and sentence, while the other has room for the definition and an illustration. These cards will be stored in the envelopes students glued into their Interactive Notebooks last time. (I've included both blank and completed cards to give you an idea how I've set them up.)

Blank Vocabulary Cards Front
Blank Vocabulary Cards Back
Example of Front of Completed Vocabulary Cards
Example of Back of Completed Vocabulary Cards

The graphics I used for these examples come from Teachers Resource Force. You can find them here and here. I don't have these vocabulary cards in my store yet, but I plan to add them once I finish planning this entire Native American unit.

Next would come the actual reading of the lesson. Sometimes I choral read this with students, sometimes I use call and response, and sometimes I have students read the lesson in pairs. I also like to put the audio CD at a computer station for students who need extra help decoding, or who are absent when the reading is done in class. I NEVER assign fourth grade students to read the text at home as a way to cover the material. If they want to take the book home to re-read the lesson or to study, that's fine.

There are discussion questions at the end of the lesson, but it drives me crazy how these are never written down anywhere except in the book. I like to have students work in cooperative groups to answer these, and I don't like to have them waste precious class time re-writing each question. To save the students some time, I created these discussion response cards.

These cards could be used in many ways. They can be exit tickets, study guides, task cards, or INB pieces. I'm not thrilled with the low level of questioning here, but I'll add my own questions verbally, as I teach the material.

The next class period I would review a section of the text and give a lesson on main idea and details. Since I knew the lesson had three details to go with the main idea, I chose a triangular pattern for the graphic organizer. I would have the students cut out the following INB foldable during morning announcements, then save it for our social studies lesson later that day.

Main Idea and Details Foldable w/o Lines

Main Idea and Details w/Lines

In our text, the lesson is about the Paleo and Archaic Native Americans who inhabited the land before written history began. You text may be vastly different, which is why I am showing our results as an example only. Plus, some of my students need help keeping their printing straight (hence the graphic organizer with lines) while others like the freedom of an organizer without lines. Here's what our completed foldable would look like.

For the main body of at-level students, this same graphic organizer could be used for other lessons in the chapter, to be completed independently. For struggling students, I would pull them into a small group and continue to model the procedure until they were able to successfully complete it on their own. (For some, this may take many months of practice.) For more advanced students, I might ask them to each take a different section of the text, complete the chart, then switch papers to correct each other's work.

I also want to include a lesson on comparing and contrasting the Paleo Indians with the people of the Archaic period. I'll have a graphic organizer/foldable for the students' Interactive Notebooks, plus I'll share some ideas for anchor charts I've found to help teach this reading and writing skill. Check my next blog post to see these.  :)

Please make a comment below about anything you've seen in this post. I would love to hear from you!

"See" you next time! Have a fabulous week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently at Carol’s Teaching Garden

I’m listening to the sounds of the thunderstorm outside. It sounds like we’re inside a washing machine when the wind blows curtains of rain against the roof. I love the feeling of being safe and warm at home with my family while the storm passes. We also need this storm desperately, as our rainfall has been several inches below normal for the past couple of months.

July ALREADY?!!!

Loving: our puppy dog’s new haircut! Every year at this time we get our golden retriever shaved, until she looks like a puppy again. She’s much cooler and happier, too! I have to admit that it gives me a fit of the giggles to see her nakedness, though! Just look at her smile!

I’m thinking about my new school. I have been offered a new job in a new district, but it’s not completely “official” yet. The principal has recommended me to the H.R. department, but they have the final approval. I’ve submitted my transcripts, and now we wait. (Read: STRESSFUL!!!!)

Wanting: to get started in my new classroom, in my new school. I have so many ideas spinning around in my head, plus lists on my phone and on my computer. I can’t justify doing anything until the new job is official, though. In the meantime, I am trying to keep myself busy with other stuff, like standing in line at government offices for things like car registration and my kids’ health certificates (required in Tennessee).

Needing: to start weeding out everything that would NOT need to get packed to move, and nobody can do that except me. Ugh! I keep procrastinating (avoiding?), even though I know it will be so much easier if I just GET STARTED!

The last part of this month’s Currently is to tell what makes an “All-Star” teacher. I would have to say that my greatest teaching area strength is teaching students how to write. That’s what my teammates tell me, anyway. My students will tell you it’s teaching reading. Or math. Or science. Or social studies. Sometimes they think I should have been an art teacher, or perhaps a music teacher. Really I think it’s that my kids feel my enthusiasm for whatever we’re doing in class, and that’s infectious.

Thank you for taking the time to read my little blog post. Please take a moment to leave a comment below. It’s what keeps us bloggers blogging!

Then take a few minutes to visit Farley’s linky. You might find some fantastic new bloggers to follow!

Oh Boy Fourth Grade Linky
"See you" next time!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Teaching Quirk!

I'm a bit of an actress when I'm teaching. My classroom is my stage, and my students are both my audience and my fellow players.

Anything to Keep My Kids Interested!
One thing my students will tell you about me is that I like to do voices. They love read aloud time in my room, because I really get into character. One time I was reading from the novel Hatchet. I got to the part where the boy wakes screaming for his mother, which I did, quite loudly and urgently. Not only did my kids stay on the edge of their sets, but a parent heard me from outside and came rushing into the room to see what was the matter!

Seeing me get enthusiastic about stories helps my students get involved, too. It's so much more fun to act out what we're reading, and it aids in comprehension, too!

What about you? What's your teaching quirk? I'd love to hear about it! Please leave a comment about it below. :)

Next, check out the link up at I Heart Grade 3.

Weekly Linkup
Thanks for visiting! "See" you next time!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Linky Party: My Accomplishment

Oops! I’m late to the party! As part of I Heart Grade 3’s summer linky party, many bloggers this week are writing about an accomplishment of which they are proud.

Summer Linky Party

When my children were toddlers, I desperately needed to increase my income. I was divorced, and my ex-husband refused to pay his court-ordered child support. Since he was a self-employed contractor, my lawyer told me it was pointless to go after him for the back support. I needed another way to raise the money.

Since my pay rate would increase by nearly $10,000 a year if I earned my Master’s Degree, I decided that I needed to go back to school. I also desired to gain more knowledge in reading instruction, so I decided to earn my Master’s Degree in Education, with a Reading Emphasis. This degree came with the added distinction of earning a Reading Specialist Credential at the same time as the Master’s Degree.

Thankfully, my Mom helped us out with childcare while I worked during the day and went to school at night. After a year-and-a-half I earned my new degrees, making it possible for me to support my family while I was working in California.

Since then, I have needed the money periodically to protect my children and myself from my ex–husband in court. (He demanded spousal support from me, and used my children to try to get support for himself and his girlfriend.) Although we struggle financially now, at least we are safe from him, as I now have sole custody, and we live thousands of miles away from the two of them.

I know God has a plan for us. As long as I know what He wants me to do, I will work as hard as I can to follow the path He sets.

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Currently 2015

It's time to tell you what I'm doing Currently!

Listening: to Grand Canyon Suite by Grofe. This is one of my favorite works of music of all time. I was fortunate to have a wonderful high school language arts teacher by the name of Mr. Klevos. He taught us to appreciate great works of literature, art, and music from around the world.

During an after school club held in his room he would turn off the lights and have us close our eyes to “see” the story within the music. I still remember visualizing the sun rising over the rim of the canyon, the horse clip-clopping along, and the thunderstorm lighting up the sky.

The influence of this music, and the teacher who shared it with us, are some of the reasons I became a Humanities major in college.

Loving: the chicken soup with dumplings I made in the crockpot yesterday. I used a standard chicken soup recipe with additional spices, then added two cans of Campbell’s Herbed Cream of Chicken Soup once the soup was almost ready. Finally, I created dumplings using the recipe on the side of the Bisquick box, except that I added half a large chopped onion and a lot of poultry spice to the mix before adding it to the top of the soup. It smells wonderful and tastes absolutely delicious!

Chicken Soup with Dumplings, Plus a Glass of Heavily Iced/Watered Down Cranberry Pomegranate Juice

Thinking: about an interview I have this week to work at an open school. (Are you looking for a new job, too? For my series of interview tips, click here.) I really don’t think I’ll get this particular job, since I don’t have any training in that type of teaching environment, but I am curious to see the school and learn more about how it works.

What Does Self-Directed Learning Look Like in a Classroom?

From my online research it appears that open schools emphasize student autonomy and self-directed learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator. It sounds interesting, and I can’t wait to see it in action!

My own district is already out for the summer, but of you are still in session, you might want to check out a fun little freebie I have posted here. 

Wanting: to lose some weight and get in better shape. Realistically, it’s not happening. Although I lost a few pounds due to my recent bout of stomach flu, I’m a stress eater, and I love my comfort foods!

Dessert, Anyone?

Needing: to get my daughter up so she can take a shower before her doctor’s appointment. Wish me luck, as it’s not fun to wake a teenager on summer vacation!

Wake Up a Sleeping Teenager at Your Own Peril!
Summer Lovin': local trips to Dollywood and Splash Country. I LOVE roller coasters, and Wild Eagle is so fun!

I also want to take my teenagers to Splash Country, which is Dollywood’s water park. We haven’t been there yet, but I want to change that this summer.

Finally, I hope to travel to Murfreesboro, TN on July 28-29 to help Michele Martin-Luck with a display booth representing/featuring a group of Teachers Pay Teachers authors-sellers. Michele travels all around the country setting up TpT booths at educational conferences. I participate through her (and her husband, Steve), but this conference will be close enough for me to visit. (I hope!)

Conferences with Michele Martin-Luck

Thank you for reading my June Currently! Head over to Farley’s linkup at Oh Boy Fourth Grade to read more posts by some of your favorite teacher-authors. Please consider donating to a worthy cause while you're there!

Linkup Here

Before you go, take a look at my sidebar for other topics that might interest you. Please consider following me on Bloglovin’, Instagram, and TpT, too! 

“See” you next time!
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