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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My fellow third grade teachers and I do a Science and Social Studies rotation on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. We plan a six-lesson unit and rotate our groups every three weeks. We mix our students up and group them strategically. They all love being in class with kids from other classes and we get to have tons of fun. I am currently teaching Animal Adaptations (which is one of my favorites...) and I have an amazing video I like to break the ice with. Here it is...

We begin the lesson with brainstorming examples of different types of adaptations, then we watch the video.  It always gets tons of laughs and usually kids are singing along by the end of the song. After the video, the kids each got a copy of the lyrics and they highlighted all of the adaptations that the camel mentions in the song.  We then came back together to review all of the different adaptations in the video.

And for the finale, I play the video one more time and the kids follow along with their highlighted lyrics. This time, they all sing along and I love it!
Right as the video finished up, I heard a little voice say, HOLLA! And I burst into laughter!  It was amazing!  It was completely unexpected and the timing was perfect.  I gave the little lady a high five and excused everyone back to their classrooms.  I will definitely be using this video again. :)


Monday, January 30, 2012

Today was a Good Day...

After all of that stressing and planning, I have to admit, my work definitely paid off today.  Today was really one of the smoothest days I have had this year.  I was very specific in my planning and I've always heard that the best classroom management is a good lesson, and when you get an entire day's worth of good lessons, the results are amazing!  One of the most successful parts of the day was our Robust Vocabulary lesson. We started with a vocabulary preview and gallery walk that I read about over at One Extra Degree.  I placed pink sheets of paper around the room and the kids had 10 minutes to walk around and add a definition, example, or illustration to each poster.  They were also to read what other students had read to make deeper connections.  My kiddos loved it!

It was really great to see how much they already knew about our Robust Vocabulary words before they were introduced.  We then discussed (along with a wonderful PowerPoint) word meanings and additional examples of the words.  The rest of the day seemed to fly by and went off without a hitch.  I left school feeling energized and excited about tomorrow.  Not to mention, I found this in my bucket today:
I love my job...  


Sunday, January 29, 2012

I've Been Tagged!

This is fun!  I love all of you blogger-people.  Thank goodness I finished everything up for the week, because now it's fun time!  I've been tagged by Miss S over at Just Teaching... Kindergarten, so here we go.

  1. You must post the rules.
  2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
  3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
  4. Tag 12 people and link them to your post!
  5. Let them know you've tagged them!
12 fun things about me...
  1. Teaching kiddos is my second career.  I authored and presented continuing education seminars for attorneys for five years before returning to school to get my Master's and Credential at UC Irvine.
  2. I am 30.  Yikes.  Did I just type that out loud?
  3. I have been married for 5 years to my best friend and we have a fur-baby named Duke.
  4. I student-taught with a male partner (who was and is AMAZING!).
  5. I used to teach a fitness class called Boogie Box.
  6. I have a group of friends from school (The Carpool) that are amazing to bounce ideas off of.
  7. It's almost my one month bloggiversary!
  8. I really want to be a mom sometime in the near future.
  9. 23 out of 28 of my students are English Learners.
  10. I used to have super short blonde hair just like P!nk.
  11. I am addicted to Cinnamon Dolce Lattes from Starbucks.  Whole milk, whipped cream and all.  I only allow myself one per week, usually on Sunday mornings.
  12. My husband and I got married at a historic house in Palm Springs, CA. 

Miss S's questions for me...
  1. How long have you been teaching? This is my very first year!
  2. Has your school ever had anyone famous visit? Not that I know of.
  3. What is your favorite subject to teach? I am definitely a math girl.
  4. What did you want to be when you were growing up? A cheerleader. Yes, I know.  It's actually why I went to college the first time.
  5. Where was the last place you went out to dinner? Wahoo's Fish Tacos at Santana Row.
  6. Do you work out? Oh, yeah... Dance aerobics in my empty room.  Google Clubland Workouts.
  7. Does your school have art class? Not officially, but we have a retired teacher that floats and will teach my kids every other month.
  8. Coke or Pepsi? Neither... that stuff will kill ya!
  9. Have you ever been to Wisconsin? Nope.
  10. Driver or passenger? Passenger.
  11. How many siblings do you have? Five total. Two brothers and two sisters.
  12. What is the ratio or male to female teachers at your school? 2:15
Now for 12 blogs to tag.... 

And Finally....
  1. How often do you post on your blog?
  2. Phone camera or camera camera?
  3. What was the last book you read?
  4. What color polish is on your nails?
  5. Snow or sand?
  6. How long have you been teaching?
  7. Have you ever been a mentor teacher?
  8. What does the perfect day look like?
  9. Can you wear jeans to school?
  10. Do you play and instruments?
  11. What is your favorite dessert?
  12. What is the best meal that you cook? (I'm a little hungry, can you tell?)
Thanks for playing!



I'm Struggling.

I am having a really hard time planning for the week today.  My Language Arts block has been a little schizophrenic this year and I am having trouble getting to everything in my plan book (go figure...). I must admit that teaching Language Arts is not my strong suit.  I am a math girl.  And I have definitely been struggling all year just to get through my Language Arts block.  I have wonderful ideas, but I tend to get sidetracked.  You see... I am not used to planning with a TE, let alone six of them.  In my experience student teaching, I did not even see a TE. My mentors used the state standards and Common Core Standards as their guides.  Their combined experiences, professional books, textbooks, and the internet were my guides.  Not to mention, these books are brand new to my school and 2 of the 3 third grade teachers are brand new to the profession.  So here I sit, reading through all of the ideas and activities in my TE and trying to piece it all together.

For those of you that use Daily Five and CAFE strategies, how do you blend those with your basal readers?  Aaaannndd... how do you incorporate all of the amazingness found on TPT? I could really use some help!


UPDATE: My husband had a brilliant idea and suggested that I take a walk or a nap.  I did both and woke up with a new attitude.  I love that man...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Name is Dani & I Am An Office-Supply-A-Holic

So I was doing some reading over at Clutter-Free Classroom about keeping a clean desk and I am waaaaay off!!  Here is the top drawer of my desk.
Yes, there are trays and rubberbands of similar writing instruments, and the ones that are in current rotation are all in one place (in the small tray on the right). But I have come to the realization that I have a problem.  I. AM. ADDICTED.  I love office supplies.  And today I realized that I have been hoarding pens and pencils like a crazy person.  So much so that my drawer looks like that. But I thought I was organized...

My major missteps (according to Clutter-Free Classroom) are as follows:

  • Stop using Post-It Notes.  Instead keep one notebook designated for reminders and to do lists.  (See that collection of them?  Right by the gum? Yeah, there are a bunch! And you should see the top of my desk!)
  • Schedule times to clean your desk.  Make this a routine. (I'm pretty good at this, but I could do a lot better. I'm thinking when my kids clean up. What a concept?)
  • Stick to one pen (!!!!!!). Pick a brand and color that you like and use it exclusively. Only keep 2-3 on hand at a time. (HOLY COW! Can you imagine how much space I could have in that drawer up there?)
I am totally revamping my desk tomorrow.  My next dilemma... what am I going to do with all of that extra space?


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Spread a Little Sunshine

I found these on Pinterest this evening and I am totally going to spread the love this week.  I have been feeling a little lonely and my bucket has been feeling a little empty, so I am going to put my money where my mouth is!  I will be anonymously filling buckets all week with these adorable little notes.
How fun is that??


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Family Math

Finding a teaching job in Southern California right out of a credential program is not an easy task.  Many of my friends and classmates were successful in securing jobs in the area, but many had to wait until the very last minute (2 days before school started!!) to hear back from schools, and I HAD to get to work.  I was lucky enough to land a job in Northern California right after I graduated in August and had a whopping 14 days to move into my new home and classroom. My husband and I moved to a new city on a whim and I wish I could say things are fabulous, but the truth is, I miss my family and friends. I do my best to keep in contact by calling, texting and doing the facebook thing, but sometimes it just isn't enough. I have been using personal story-telling (with an occasional exaggeration) to keep interest high and the kids love it. Plus, I get to remind myself how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life.  One thing that has emerged from this practice is what I have dubbed "Family Math."

It serves two wonderful purposes: I get to tell funny, mostly true stories about my family and the kids get really excited about math problems.  This is our most recent chart and they were really concerned with the task of finding the correct number of horseshoes for Morgan's horses.  They even asked me if she knew we were going to figure it out for her, so I actually texted her during our lesson to make sure she knew :).  It's also really fun to share pictures of our charts with my family and friends so that they know I'm thinking about them.  Win/win! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Charts, charts, and more charts!

We chart a lot in my class.  It is a great way to document student thinking and it has really helped my class to take ownership of their learning and our space.  We chart everything from reading comprehension strategies to math facts and everything in between.  I was lucky enough to have a few amazing mentor teachers in my Credential Program.  They introduced me to Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning and it has been an amazing tool for me. I was able to learn the art of charting from two wonderful first grade teachers. Things are a little different in third grade, but we LOVE to chart in my class!  Here are a few of our charts from this year.

"Charting holds thinking--it makes our thinking public and permanent, and traces our work together." - Debbie Miller, 2002

Schema Umbrella Chart

The Napping House Connections and Schema

Don't Need Friends Connections and Schema

My lil' Bucket Fillers!


Non-fiction Text Features (a Pinterest find!)

Plurals --> Changing y to ies

States of Matter

Caribou Schema

Parts of a Letter

MY NEW CARPET!!  (Just had to sneak it in...)

I think they like it!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

CURRENTLY! Oh My Gosh!!! I did it!

Alrighty... I am BRAND NEW to this blogger thing and I am pretty sure that I just figured out this whole Linky Party thing!  Yay for me!

Anyway... here is my CURRENTLY from Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

BTW... Check out The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener... I am hoping to get my hands on one soon.  I literally just bought my kids mechanical pencils because mine is driving me crazy!  I get so irritated when my kidlets get up to sharpen pencils (even when they aren't supposed to...).  Not mention the fact that my super-duper $50 electric sharpener doesn't even get their pencils close to sharp anymore!

I'm hoping that this Linky Party will help me to pick up a few new followers and one of those handy-dandy sharpeners!  Happy Saturday!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Next on the To-Do List... Emergency Sub Plans!

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week sick as a dog. Not like I had a cold-sick, but like I couldn't eat a scrap of food because I was afraid it was going to make a quick return-sick. It was horrible. I can't event tell you the last time that I was that sick. And each morning when my stupid alarm went off at 5:20 a.m., all I could think about was what it would take for me to write sub plans for the day and get them to school. Just the thought of the prep was enough to get me out of bed and on my way. I did this mental dance both Thursday and Friday mornings, feeling like garbage and doing my best.

As as first-year teacher, I have only written 2 days of sub plans. Total. And they took a while. I have created a Sub Binder with basic info and emergency instructions, but after my icky sick days, I have added planning 3 days worth of emergency sub plans to the top of my To-do List.

How do you plan for emergencies?