Friday, May 20, 2016

May 20, 2016

I am here live at a Literacy PD at Heritage Middle School by Leah O'Donnell!  She is amazing and has so much to share.  Her PD for the 8th grade teachers this morning was called, "Single Point Rubrics for Middle School."  I was thrilled to listen and engaged with many questions and thoughts of my own.  I love sitting at PD's and jotting down notes!

The PD was helpful to know how and when (most importantly) to create a rubric.  According to Leach, "Make sure you make it first before the unit, so that you know what you want your students to be doing in class and by the time the assessment comes."

Another helpful push for me was using these single point rubrics for math explanations next year.  I feel like Meg and I will for sure use Math practices in our rubrics more often next year.  I also want to collaborate more with other 6th and 7th grade math teachers so that we all can agree on what a "3" means on certain topics!


It has been a wonderful change for me this year teaching Math.  I know many of my close friends and family know that I love it, but I just have to keep saying it.  More excitingly is that I get to do it next year with the same co-teacher, my friend, Meg Navolio.

I hate that I haven't shared more here on blog from everything I have learned, planned, and accomplished this school year.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Holy Moly!  I can't believe I did this to myself!  I can't find enough time to just make it about "Me"

It's been September since my last post and I have been asked to get a ride for the March Madness of


I guess I should have no excuse.  I should know that I HAVE TO make time for just me and my writing.  It will help become a better teacher, daughter, aunt, friend, and co-worker.  If I don't take time to stop and clear my head, I will go crazy!  

But, I will brag about all of the things that I am doing that get in the way....because I am proud that I am doing it.  I do want to thank my great friends and co-workers at school though.  They are super supportive and if I do overbook my schedule or unclear on what to do next, they are there to help me in every way!  LOVE!

1.  Got a second job waitressing at Ann Sather in the Chicago.  LOVE IT!  

2.  I coach POMS in the fall and now VOLLEYBALL in the winter.  Love my teams!  Love coaching and building relationships with students.

3.  Working on my health!  I have changed my diet by eating WAY MORE HEALTHIER.  I have stared the plant based diet and am down 16lbs!  YESSSS!  

4.  I go to bed by 9-10  (not tonight)

5.  Researching more about IEP's so that I can become masterful and help my colleagues!  Yes, I am reading books on IEPs!  

6.  Finding time to be with family and friends, even though it is so limited.  Miss them so much.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Currently September

I am linking up with Farley today to currently share my Currently!  

I love sitting in my home in the quiet and getting stuff done.  I do enjoy music to get me going...but once I need to focus and really complete certain tasks, I love the silence (with the exception of the clicking on my keyboard as I type)

I am hopeful that my new 8th graders stay this way.  I know it's "honeymoon" stage as some people call it, but I absolutely love our students and how they respond in the classroom.  They are polite, engaged, aware of their surroundings, and they are interested in meeting us teachers!

I have already applied for grad school, but haven't done the second set of papers yet.  I need to get that going!  It starts in December!!!

I am reading a book for some motivation and professional development right now, (Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom), but I would like to read for pleasure.  I just don't know what I should read next.  This means I should just go on to Goodreads soon!

I am waiting for some paperwork to come through.  I just was approved for a car.  My old car is just slowly dying out.  I feel like it's wheezing every time I start it.  Poor silver bullet.  

I hope to continue to shine each week within my blogs by sharing what I read, teach, and staying positive.  

Week 2 Reflection- Feedback from Kiddos

Hello to everyone out there!  I hope to continue to blog every week and reflect on my work week.  I also hope to fit a blog in during the week here and there once I get used to the long hours.  My body is still adjusting to waking up early.  I was falling asleep by 8:30 everyday last week.  :)

To describe this work week I would say it was fun and diligent.  Meg and I gave much feedback to the students on their written responses, their first assessment, and then we received our own feedback from them at the end of the week.

Our students worked well with each other by sharing their responses and trying to explain how they found their answers.  It can be tough at times, in math, to explain what they know.  Sometimes they want to just write simple answers or fragments of their findings, therefore, we are trying to start them out this year on the right foot to show them what kind of explanations we are looking for.  We modeled some written responses on the board and shared some of their peers answers in order for them to know it is possible!

We also gave them their first grade this week and explained what it meant.  Our school is transitioning to SBG (standard based grading) and it's on a 4,3,2,1 scale.  Students who received a 1 on their assessment looked a little upset and said, "No, I want a 3!"  We had to remind them that these numbers do not correlate with an A, B, C, D.  We were clear that it means that they are just starting to begin the standard and need a little more help with understanding the specific skill.  We gave written comments on the back of their assessment and side notes where their answers were so that they could understand what we were looking for.  It's still so early in the year to give them a grade, but we want them to get the feeling of this new grading system.  We want them to take responsibility of their own learning and WANT to improve.

Another activity we did this week was start our brain breaks.  Because of the block class, we want the kids to take a break once in while and almost charge into their subconscious mind.  We don't want to lose kids throughout instruction because they have received too much information and feel overwhelmed.  So, we encourage our kids to stand up and stretch and have them take part in a planned activity.
Brain Break 1:  Ask the students to draw a picture of a tree.  Once they were done, we showed them
some information on what their tree means about their personality.  It was kind of silly and fun, but the kids enjoyed it.
Brain Break 2:  Ask the students to fill out a note card.  We asked them to write TWO things that they liked about the class/teachers/environment/work/learned information and TWO things they need help with or things that could help them become more successful.  Then, on the back of the card, we asked them to share what they were going to do over the long weekend.

***The purpose for this brain break/feedback activity was to help Meg and I make any improvements to our class and see who would share their honest thoughts.  We asked them about their weekend because we also want to make relationships with our students and have them feel like we care about them and what's going on in their life.  We want to build bridges of conversation with students so that in certain moments we can find time to connect with them during work time in class, come and go in the classroom, and as we see them in the hall.  I got this idea from a book I am presently reading by Carol Ann Tomlinson.  (Fullfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom).  I think this activity is important for all content area teachers to do.

Here are some responses we received from our lovely students:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Reflection After the FIRST Week of School

Hello and Happy Sunday!  I must begin with a comment about this crazy weather we have been having lately!  Gosh, what season is it?  I wasn't ready to say goodbye to Summer but the past week has felt like Fall.  On the other hand, I do admit though that the cool weather last week was nice for the first week of school!  I enjoyed the cool breeze in the morning, wasn't hot running around school during the day, and the students were comfortable.

This year I am teaching 8th grade math!  I am super excited and have already had a great first week.  The students seem very sweet and hard working.  I have had some confusion with names though.  It is crazy how many kids have the same name in this specific class.  Too many Anthonys and Marcos.  I feel horrible that I have asked some of the same kids every day, "I'm sorry, what's your name again?"

So, other then weather and the student's attitudes, the week went very well.  Meg is my co-teacher and one of my good friends, so we are working perfect together!  We have already given a pre-assessment on distance-time graphs.  We already had stations in one of our block periods and the kids worked very well together.  There was great communication between the students while figuring out a sort that they did.  They had to match 10 distance-time graph with a scenario and then explained their reasoning to one of us when they were through.  I love to see and hear when students are working together.  They use words that we use previously in the lesson (which makes me super happy) or they are trying to explain to their partner their reasoning for one of their answers.  Collaboration is so important within the classroom.  Kids are explaining their thinking, taking ownership of their learning, and having fun too.


My school just switched to block scheduling, so the students have 88 minutes in their classes and 3 core classes a day.  They have ELA and Math every day and then Science and Social Studies every other day.  Their special/exploratory class switches every other day as well.  So the students were taught this week what it looks likes and feels like to be in block classes.  Meg and I taught what stations look like, sound like, expectations of behavior, and expectations of some of the activities that will be used throughout the year.  I think it went awesome and it will be better over time because we can get more accomplished in one class and meet with all the kids you need to meet with one on one or in a small group.

We also encouraged our students positive behavior this week by being on time.  One of our new PBIS incentives are falcon dollars.  Students can earn them each week based on a specific theme (on time for class, prepared with materials).  Then they use their dollars at the school store for small prizes/rewards or they can save up for other bigger incentives like a school outing.  I love this and can't wait for them to take responsibility for their own dollars and "save" them and learn some lessons along the way!  I was really excited for those students who received their first few dollars this week for being on time.

I can't wait for another week and getting to know more about my students.  Happy back to school!  I wish happiness to you and your first week as well.  Anyone else want to share their first week back?

Monday, August 3, 2015


Good Morning and Happy August!  I am linking up with Farley and BTL today!

I am here in Michigan, yes, AGAIN!  This time I am with my friend Jenny!  Love her!  She made me laugh so much last night.  The crazy rainstorm was loud with strong winds.  We stared at each other in silence and as it got louder and louder,  she got up from her seat and bolted through the door.  Then she fell to the far in an instant.  We laughed so much afterwards, and we are safe as well.  More sun today and much more laughing!  

I am about to finish my book.  It is called, "House Rules."  I have taken a few days away from it because it is a very unfortunate book.  It is actually a memoir about a young girl who lives with a verbally abusive father.  He is wretched and cruel to his one daughter and she tries so hard to understand why.  I need to move onto something light and a little more heartfelt.

I am hoping to get a new car soon.  I am just waiting for some paper work to fill out and then  hopefully by the end of the month, it will be done!

I must say that I am in need of pencils and pens.  I need to buy ALOT of them.  I am also looking forward to buying the big white poster paper to hang up my new posters in the room as well as new tape to use on my walls.  What is the best sticky tape for classroom walls?

I must get back to vacation...there's not much time left!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blog Day 28- Essentials For My Classroom

It's getting to that time of the year is right around the corner.  August means that I have to get back in the zone and start thinking about what I am going to do.  As usual, I am linking up with BTL for Blog Challenge Day 28!
So far, (since it's still July) I have found some posters that I want to make prior to the start of the year. Being a special education teacher requires much planning and because I know most of my kids, I know what I need for my classroom.  These two posters are for sure going to be ready for day 1!

My students are in 8th grade and this means I should get them ready for high school and get them feeling a bit more independent with their own learning and understanding.  At times they rush through their work in order to move onto their IXL goals, or fun online game.  Or they have the tiniest mistake in their work and don't see it until they turn it in.  Because my school is a 1:1 school (ipads and computers), students have to retake a quick assessment because they know they submitted it wrong or they have to take out a sheet of paper and show their work.  When the paper is asked to come out, Oh man, it's a sound that you don't want to hear over and over again.  It's as if I am asking them to write a handwritten story for me.  So, hopefully with this poster (left) it will help them check their work and feel satisfied in their trial.
The poster on the right is KEY to a resource classroom.  I think I even want to make mini posters of this to put on their tables to remind them too.  Sometimes kids don't think before they talk and they complain in order to get attention or just don't want to do the work alone.  A lot of my kids know how to do it, but they just need the reassurance and confidence in order to complete the steps.  So hopefully, "I can't" and "I don't know" will be taken out of our vocabulary this school year.

Now, the next idea is just what I am thinking today.  But because I am a huge fan of Pac Man and many of students love video games, I kind of want to do this for my bulletin board, except I have to make it 8th grade!  It will take time but I really love it!

Last, but definitely not least, is this website to help me out a bit and refer to once I get teaching. It correlates with Common Core and will help my students FOR SURE!  The Cornerstone is very helpful.  I tend to drop by it some of the time to help with my reflections.  Math isn't just solving and then your done.  Students need to talk about HOW and WHY they got that answer or WHY it is that answer.  Number 4 is exactly what my classroom looks like.  Students struggle with the content and get frustrated, BUT I am there to teach them new strategies and that IT IS OKAY that they can find the same answer by doing it another way than their peer!  I have a lot of energy in the classroom and I get super pumped when I see my students raise their hand and shake it because they want to share "their" way on the board or talk me through the steps to show the whole class!
I am loving Number 10 as well on this page!  Creating digital math notebooks that explain their understanding.  They can make videos that explain how to do it and share it with others!  Oh yes, it's starting already!  I am getting pumped up just thinking about it!

I feel as though I have shared enough today....I will be back!

What are your essentials so far?