Blog Archives

Curriculum Mapping. It only takes a year or two…

Does your school district provide you with  a curriculum map? When I worked in a public school, we had a pacing and planning guide for every subject that laid out exactly what to teach and when. Many of our subjects were even scripted! I am not a huge fan of scripted lessons because it takes all the creativity and fun out of teaching (hmm… sounds like how I felt with many assignments as a student!).

At my new school, I have been given standards and textbooks, but no map of when to teach what. I flailed a little last year as I tried to lay out what I could, but I was constantly getting frustrated that I was not keeping up the pace I had set for myself.  So this year I took a large piece of copy paper (11″x 14″) and drew a million lines! I filled each subject in vertically and across the top, broke the year into weeks. Then I penciled in what I needed to be doing each week in every subject. I drew dark lines to represent a mid term or trimester, and at the bottom added what school events would be happening at this time. I am a HUGE believer in cross- curricular teaching. You will easily walk in during Math and see us writing, or doing algorithms during literacy! The curriculum map lets me see where I can combine themes or subjects. We do not use every textbook from chapter one to chapter twenty one. We skip around according to what  we are working on in every subject!

Here is a view of my overall map while I was still working on it:

Up close you can see a few more specifics:

Yes I realize I could make this look nice and tidy on Excel, but I am a paper and pencil girl. Plus this is only my second year teaching this grade and nothing is set in stone (or in type in this case).  Perhaps after this year I will enter it all nice and neat, but for now, this snapshot of my year makes me feel accomplished and prepared. Just like any map, it gives my direction of where to travel.

Do you plan your year on your own? How much flexibility do you have in your teaching?

Join the PI (Pupil Investigator) Club!

I remember being one of the first to finish my assignments, ready to delve into something fun and exciting. Then being told to read at my desk. Now, I love to read so it didn’t bother me until I raised my hand to tell me teacher I was done and needed a new book. Then I often saw a quick look of exasperation flash across her face because she was trying to work with kids who needed her undivided attention…

As a teacher candidate in college I was well versed on how to work with my ELL students, my low readers, ssn students, and many other groups of students to differentiate for. But I really felt that my education was lacking in how to help my high students. There are several levels on that scale too. From competent students to the truly gifted and talented, they all need added challenges that don’t include busy work. I did my senior thesis paper on how to address those needs. However, being at two new schools in two years, I was concentrating most on learning the basic curriculum! Well this summer I have been brainstorming my new plan!

Anyone else have a potty training toddler that interrupts every blogging session at least twice to sit unsuccessfully on the potty?? haha

I really like the Mastery Club idea, but I wanted to make it more challenging. I don’t want my students to be able to google and answer or grab an encyclopedia and be done. Plus as a kid I was mildly obsessed with being a detective and this is my way of living vicariously! So I have spent the better part of my week googling, scouring bookstores, and brainstorming ideas. I do not have it all ironed out yet, but I will get there as the weeks go on.  I spent so much darn time on my printables that I am happy to share them to save you some time! i considered using Vistaprint, but honestly I don’t have the money to pay shipping even for free cards! So I just made a pdf file that I will copy at school on cardstock and laminate!

So this is how it works:

When students have NO missing or unfinished work, they can work on a mystery. I have six subjects that they can pick from. There are challenges that range from easy to very difficult in each subject. They must correctly complete 5 challenges in each subject. They can have two tries at any challenge.

In order to get their PI card, they must first complete two of the introductory Brain Teaser Mysteries. I found a slew of thee FREE here. I saved all kinds of worksheets to use for these challenges. I love that they include some easy ones so my lower kids can still participate. I was extremely excited to find these and I had some fun solving them myself!

Since I teach at a Catholic School, I also included some Bible Mysteries. I found these investigations here. I plan to type about three up per challenge so in reality they will complete 15 total!

I found some great books from Scholastic that I will use for Math and Comprehension. As soon as Scholastic opens for the year I will purchase these. I am still researching the best books or websites for printable science and history mysteries. I might end up coming up with some of these on my own! Do you have any suggestions?

Now for the fun part- FILES!!

Pupil Investigator Club Card (I think I will hole punch through each symbol when they have mastered that subject)

As they complete a challenge correctly, I will fill it in on the certificate. When five challenges in that subject are complete, I will present the following certificate to them:

Brain Teaser Certificate  

Math Mysteries Certificate

Reading Mysteries Certificate

Science Mysteries Certificate

History Mysteries Certificate

Bible Mysteries Certificate

I will share more mysteries as I come up with them. Hopefully you have enough here to get you started if you want to start a PI Club in your classroom too!

The Everything Teacher Binder TOTE Tute

This is a very basic tutorial that anyone who has beginner sewing skills can master! You can see the way I use my ETBT below in yesterday’s post. If you are not a sew-er,  you can purchase a custom one at my etsy store!

Supplies:

  • 1/2 yard fabric (I prefer oilcloth for this, but any heavy fabric will work) A directional print will require more yardage.
  • Additional 1/8 yard matching or contrasting fabric or webbing for handles
  • 18″ coordinating ribbon
  • 3 or 4 inch binder
  • a swivel hook

Sewing Tools/ Supplies you will need also

  • Matching thread
  • measuring tool
  • chalk or dressmaker’s pen
  • scissors
  • pins

To begin, lay your fabric out flat wrong side up and place your binder on top of it. Measure 1/2 around each edge of the binder. Mark with chalk or dressmaker’s pencil. Remove your binder and cut along your markings.

Put the binder back on your fabric. Lay the remaining fabric out on top of the binder to measure the inside of the tote. You will want your fabric to end about 1/2″ to 1″ away from the binder fold. You can finish the inner edge with a hem, or leave it raw if the fabric doesn’t fray. I like to use my selvege edges here for a fun finished look.

Cut the inside piece to size. Then cut another piece the same size. Now you will need the right side inside piece (this will be the back inside cover of your binder) and your ribbon. Gather up various pens and pencils here too. Take your ribbon and thread your swivel hook onto it. Place the hook at the middle of your ribbon and pull the ends until they meet. Sew the two pieces of ribbon together at the top and bottom edge.

Now you will create the pen holders. Place about 4 of your favorite writing utensils on the fabric. Place the ribbon on top of them, pinning between each pen.

Remove pens carefully so as to not pull out the pins. Sew where each pin is.

You can create handles by cutting two four inch strips the length you want your handles. Then fold each length wise and iron. Fold the raw edges in again and iron. Your finished handles will be one inch wide with four layers of fabric inside. Sew close to both long  edges to finish the handles. You can also use webbing or ready made purse handles.

On right side of inside piece, measure two and half inches from the bottom and top edges. Pin your handles aligning the raw egdes. make sure that your handle is not twisted.

Now sew the handles down using 3/8 in seam allowance. Back stitch several times to add stability.

Now place large piece of fabric right side up (the front of your binder tote that you cut). Place the inside pieces on top, right sides down. Make sure that your finished edges face the middle. Pin all the way around making sure not to catch your handles in the top or bottom seams. Sew.

Clip corners then turn tote right side out.

Carefully push corners out with the a bone turner or capped pen. Smooth all edges out. Then fold down 1/2 at the top and bottom between the two pockets. Sew.

Slide one side of your binder half way into one pocket.

Fold Binder open backwards and slide other side into pocket.

Fold your binder closed and try on your new tote!

Fill it up with your teacher goodies and enjoy the ease of toting it to and from!

Feel free to comment and or ask for clarification if I missed a step!

Summer’s End

Okay, well I still have a few more weeks of summer left, but once August 1st comes, I sure do feel like summer is over! From the outsider’s (non teachers) point of view, three weeks off is still huge. But as teachers we know that three weeks left of summer means days filled with lesson planning and bulletin board making and fine tuning all the things that didn’t quite turn out right last year! I was blessed enough to get new carpet in my room this year, but that means that I have to go back even earlier since every single piece of furniture from my classroom is sitting in my hallway! I keep having dreams of going in and someone else set it up for me, or that my materials are missing from the hallway when I get there. Or dreams that I show up on the first day of school and my room is still a mess. Once the dreams of school come, I know my summer vacation is over.

I am currently working on my teacher binder. This is my everything! I carry it with my at all times. Sometimes I even sleep with it. (I’ve been known to plan late into the night and doze with my binder on my lap). I have seen many similar ideas on other blogs, but as with anything else, we each have our own way of doing things. What makes mine special is a surprise that I will be showing a tutorial for tomorrow! I will also include some uploaded documents that you can edit and use to your liking! Stay tuned!