Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Love you, but I'm not IN love with you! A tale of Twitter....

I'm a self-proclaimed junkie when it comes to Reading Instruction!  I love reading and learning new ideas about it.  Twitter has been absolutely phenomenal in feeding that addiction the last month or so. 
But, don't you hate it when it backfires?  You know what I'm talking about, when you start reading all those fabulous things you should be doing, but aren't always a part of your daily lesson.  When you know what's best practice, but it's gone by the wayside. (Right, Gina Boyd?)
Well, that happened in spades to me this week.
I've always known that as a fifth grade teacher I really need to be up on great novels, graphic novels, and interesting picture books.  In turn, we can help find good fits for our readers.  Or, introduce them to something new, or .... (Submit your own reason!)
I have NOT done that this year.  I've barely bought any books, let alone read any to share with my students.  Of course, I already have Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, The 39 Clues all going around, but nothing new or fresh. 
Cue Twitter - I follow Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer author) and she is constantly tweeting books she is reading and giving ratings.  Also, from following her, I have started following the Nerdy Book Club.  So, in this I found some really great books to read and share with  my students. 

Getting to my point, I shared these books with my students at the beginning of CAFE.  I explained what each book was about, and what I had enjoyed about it.  In the two days since I have shared most of the books I bough and have had more conversations about these books than I have about books this whole year. 
             So, Twitter - I love you!  I do, but at times you break my heart, so if it's OK, I can't be IN love with you.  I love your ideas, professional development, testimonials, etc., but I hate how you make me feel when I read all these fabulous things that I only dream of doing.

If you're interested, here is what I bought:
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Great, short book)
  • Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger (Great follow-up!)
  • Wonder by RJ Palacio (A real tear jerker - great story about hope and friendship)
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Great book over perspective)
  • Smile by Raina Telgemeier (A graphic novel that is hilarious and true to real life)
These I found from either Twitter or Nerdy Book Club.  I also bought a few others for me:
  • Storm Runners by Roland Smith (Fabulous, I was mad that I didn't have book 2 to see what happens next)
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Haven't read yet, but I'm sure it's fantastic)
  • The Big Time by Tim Green (Didn't read, but have some big Tim Green fans in my class)
  • Best of the Best by Tim Green (Ditto!)

More Test Motivators

By request, here are some more test motivators.  I cannot claim any credit for these!

  • Crunch those numbers!  (With a Crunch bar)  Credit Nancy Nargi
  • Don't Get Nutty!  Take a deep breathe, relax and show me what you know!  (With a Nutty bar) Credit Alisan Clayton
  • I think you are Magnificent & Marvelous Do your Personal Best (With M&M cookies)  Credit Alisan Clayton
  • SKOR candy bar - SKOR big!  Credit Alisan Clayton
  • Your effort this week is worth a $100 Grand!  (With a 100 Grand bar)  Credit Alisan Clayton
  • I give my students a small bag of cookies and give them a paper that says: Remember, you are a SMART cookie
    S- stay focused
    M- mark the right choice
    A- always do your best
    R- recheck your work
    T- take your time   
  • SMARTIES-Have some SMARTIES to Super-Energize your brain cells and help you to do your best!
  • SNICKERS-No time for SNICKERS yet! You're almost finished with testing!
  • Gum: "CHEWS" your answers carefully on the test
  • EXTRA gum: Work EXTRA hard to make the best choice on the test
  • Cheerios - Cheering you to success or I'm CHEERing you on
  • Super Bubble Gum - I know you will do a SUPER job
  • Lucky Charms - Good LUCK today on your test
  • Starburst - You are a STAR or Shine like a STAR today
  • Licorice Twists - Don't let the test TWIST your mind
  • Hershey Hugs - A HUG from me to you to do the best that you can do
  • Millky Way - Success all the way to the Milky Way
  • Gum with a note that says: Blow the top off the test!
  • 1 Peppermint for every test.... to boost your brain power!
  • Eraser... to get rid of those brain freezes (what I call mistakes in my room)
  • 2 Pencils... to record all the knowledge you have learned
  • 1 stick of gum for each test... to remind you to stick with it!
  • 1 highlighter... for highlighting of course!
  • 1 Hershey's Hug.. for all your hard work!

  • Credit to Proteacher.net unless otherwise noted

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Test Motivators

This year to kick off ISTEP+ testing, my principal did a "Rock the Test" assembly for grades 3-5.  She invited a teacher's husband, Matt Call and a former Mayflower Mill student turned musician, Mike Kelsey.  They played a fun, motivating hour set.   Our kids really liked it!  We have banners in the main hall that say:  Rock the Test! 

Here are other motivator's you could do in your classroom:
  • a mint:  You are 'mint' to rock this test!
  • a starburst:  You're a rock star! 
  • a smartie:  Show how 'smart' you are as you rock the test!
  • a cookie:  You are one smart cookie!
There are a lot of other ideas online.  I have the parents of my students send in a sealed letter to wish them luck.  For the students who don't bring one, I make sure and provide on.  I got the idea from ProTeacher about 5 years ago and have done it ever since. 
Here's a link:  Letter to Parents for Motivating letter

To everyone who is starting standardized testing, otherwise known as "March Madness" in the education world:  Good luck! 

Here Comes ISTEP+

Well, the time has come.  ISTEP+ testing is here (Indiana state achievement test)
This week my students will take the open-ended portion of the ISTEP+:  English/Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies.
I get nevous every year right now.  What if I haven't yet covered what's on the test?  What if my kids don't read carefully enough and write down a wrong answer?  What if....  I could go on!  I always tell my students "We're not playing the 'what-if' game.  We could do this for hours!"  Yet, undoubtedly every year, I play the same game. 
Have I prepared my students?  I think I have...but what if....