Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tears of Joy...

I've mentioned in earlier posts that I'm at the "worst" school in my district with the "worst" kids. We have the worst attendance rate and the worst TAKS scores (Texas standardized test). With the recent budget cuts, teachers in my district (MOSTLY from my school) are getting whacked left and right. The superintendent has been watching my school like a vulture circling a carcass, just waiting to make his move.

I teach 4th grade math to the entire grade level. My TAKS scores have never been awful, but still aren't up there with the other schools. In fact, they are among the highest at my school. I haven't been too worried about losing my job, but of course it has been a possibility.

Today was just an awesome day. It was Math TAKS day. I am always excited for TAKS day because it takes a HUGE weight off of my shoulders. It marks the day where I get to teach without pressure (the last like, 19 days of school!). It marks the day where I stop worrying about the test and passing and just get to focus on teaching. JUST teaching.

Anyway, today was the day. All through the school year I have targeted about 13-15 "bubble" kids that could end up passing by the test by one, or end up failing miserably, depending on their smartness that day and their mood. These kids aren't bad kids. They are just SO behind and SO low (all reading at a either a 1st or 2nd grade reading level). 2 of them are ESL. These kids STRUGGLE. They have always struggled and will continue to struggle because they have A LOT of catching up to do.

I placed all of these kids in my testing room. I have a great rapport with all of these kids. We have spent many countless hours in small groups and tutoring. I've been encouraging them from day one and and have NEVER given up on them, even when the picture was very bleak. They know that. I've filled their little heads with confidence and an "I Can!" attitude. We have had some great days and a few more not-so-great days. I have been nervous ALL year about whether all of these countless hours of tutoring and one-on-one help will pay off.

Today...it did. Those kids worked with everything they had. I mean EVERYTHING. I have NEVER seen them work so hard. It brings a tear to my eye because...they did it. THEY DID IT. All of this hard work and frustration paid off. Of course, I don't know their scores and I don't know exactly how they did because we are not allowed to look at the test while the students are taking it BUT I can tell you that they took their time, they used their strategies, they THOUGHT it out, and I have never been so proud!

This reminds me that I KNOW my purpose is to teach. This is what I live for. This feeling will NEVER get old! It's so cliché to say that my favorite part of teaching is that light bulb moment (you know what I mean!), but it's true!

I am so thankful for my job and praise GOD for all that He has done!

(and thank GOD this day is over!!!)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Math Blog Hop: Tessellations

I remember making tessellations when I was in middle school. I remember it being such a neat project and really had fun creating it. I tried it for the first time last year with my 4th graders and they loved it! I started it last week with one of my classes (my other 2 classes will start next week) and they are looking great so far! I will post the finished products for you to see in a week or two when they are finished. Check them out:

We started out with a simple 4" x 4" square......

 ...and with a translation or two turned the square into irregular shapes!

 The students translated their unique shape all over their paper to create a tessellation. (I put the original shape in the middle of the paper.)

Some traced a little more carefully than others...

 "A snooty old woman" (as described by the creator)

I thought this one would be cool as a manta ray, but this student has other plans...

A personal fav!

I cannot wait to see the final products! Hope you enjoyed! :D

Sunday, April 24, 2011

2D/3D Figure Riddles

I created a few little riddles as an extra challenge for my students. I have this file for sale in my TPT store, BUT I have made it available (below) for FREEEEE for all of my bloggy friends (if I even have any, hahahaha.....). I hope you are able to use it, or can at least pass it on to someone who can!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Teachers Pay Teachers

I have officially uploaded my FIRST (of many, I'm sure) TPT item! I uploaded a Bowling for Facts multiplication folder (or baggie) game. It is FREEEEEE, so please take a peek and let me know what you think! :D

Check it out here!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Transformations, Congruence, and Symmetry Evaluation Books

Instead of giving a traditional test for the end of our Transformations, Congruence, and Symmetry unit, I had my students create a book that demonstrated what they learned. The book had six pages and they were required to include: translation, rotation, reflection, congruent/not congruent, line of symmetry and no line of symmetry. They were also required to explain what each one was in as many words as they wanted (I say that because some students can get the point across in 2 words, while others needed about 12 words). This activity helped reinforce the vocabulary they learned and allowed them to be a little creative. I was very pleased with the outcome! While some students did just enough to meet the requirements, others took it and ran with it! I picked out some of the best ones to show you (in no particular order):

Here are the cute little books!

Don't let this fool you--not all 4th graders write this neat!!

This book was my favorite. She really went all out with her examples!

 Making cross-curricular connections!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

7 of My Favorite Things

There's a link up party going on at Persnickety Pickles of 7 of your favorite non-teaching things, so here goes mine:

1. My lovely family

I l-o-v-e my husband and our sweet little girl SOOO much! She'll be 15 months tomorrow and couldn't be cuter.

2. S-U-G-A-R
These little DELICIOUS candies are currently my favorite. I would totally live on sweets if it wouldn't kill me :D

3. Target

I've have blogged about Target finds TWICE in all of my 10 or so blog posts. This is a relatively new obsession--I actually never shopped at Target until it came time to make a baby registry. Now, it's the first place I go when I take my weekly shopping trip.

4. Organization

I am in love with organizing things! Making labels, alphabetizing, color coding and filing all give me such joy. I went to The Container Store for the first time a few weeks ago and almost DIED. I was in heaven!!!

5. CoLoRs

I cannot imagine the world without color. Period. I am so attracted to colors. My classroom is like a giant rainbow. My home, however has a man living there, so rainbows are few and far between. If it were up to me I'd have green walls, a yellow couch, a blue rug, and red coffee table! (You get the idea!) :D

6. Anything and Everything Mini
I don't know what it is about mini things, but they make me squeal and smile like a 5 year-old girl.

7. Technology

I have been using a computer since I was 2 years old, back in the days of MS-DOS. I am extremely passionate about technology and wish all people would be more open to it. I don't mean to brag, but working with technology comes completely natural to me. Just about everything I know is self-taught; give me a program or new device and I have it figured out within a minute.

Hope you enjoyed and I can't wait to see everyone else's blog posts! :D

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Seriously, I Can't Get Enough of Target!

I've mentioned that my classroom theme is frogs. I found 10 of these little guys at Target and just couldn't resist!