Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Character Analysis

NEW BLOG POST!!! Yayy.  I am so happy to be blogging again.  My computer was out of commission for awhile.  Thankfully I did not lose files but my keyboard was not working.  Then I tried to use my husbands computer and it stopped working as well.  Thankfully now we have fixed and back up keyboards! woohooo. Anyway, I have a short post for you today.

This week in reading we are focusing on character analysis.  My students have been having a hard time telling me details about the characters so we decided to focus on traits and feelings of characters.  We first defined what each meant.  One of my students was dead on with definitions while most of the others had no clue what the difference was. It was great.  He sometimes struggles with confidence so we celebrated this knowledge to the fullest.  He was very proud after that!

Anyway, then we came up with some examples.  The kids had some great ideas for character traits and feelings. I think the fact that the school focuses on virtues really helped in this area.

Then we practiced together identifying these things through our read aloud. I am currently reading Shiloh which has some dramatic events in it to really help with this.  We were at the part where Marty confronts Judd and lots of emotions are shared by each character.

During their independent reading time, I asked the kids to grab 2 different colored flags and mark the traits and feelings that they found in the books they were reading.  I was quite surprised how many of them struggled identifying these things on their own.  Good thing it is still early to keep reinforcing these ideas.

After the reading time was up we gathered back to the carpet to share our ideas and what we found in our stories.  The students then each added a trait or a feeling to our chart. Here is the finished chart.  I was quite pleased with this lesson and think the rest of the week will really make this concept stick.

Happy Hump Day!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently it is September

Even though none of my calendars say September, I guess it really is. I cant believe it.  This summer and the first few weeks of school flew by for me.  But here we are with the currently.  I am not feeling well so I will keep this short.

My three things are fairly self explanatory. I want to start cooking more.  This summer my husband and I ate out a LOT, so we need to get in the habit of cooking again.  We had some great meals this weekend though so I think we are on the right track.

Grad School. Ugh. I think I need to start this soon. I want to apply this month. I will need to do it online since I am internationally located, but any advice otherwise would be awesome!

Reading: I want to keep reading this month like I did over the summer. I want to finish the book I am half way through and then finish another one in September.  Hopefully it is not too lofty a goal.

Cant wait to check out the other Currentlys! Go and enjoy.  I am in the top 50... I cant believe that.  ha.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

TPT Purchases are fun!!

I very much enjoyed the TPT sale this year.  I was worried when school was getting close to starting, and then did start, that the sale was never going to happen.  I had made my wishlist early and was ready for it, hopeful it would arrive soon!  I went to town buying things.  But of course I then saw Farley's instagram where she had a thing called Big Border Mega Bundle and I was hooked.

I quickly looked it up and decided it was totally worth it!! I have been searching for borders and attempting (and failing) to create my own.  I LOVE this product.  There are so many items in the packet. If you want only a portion she has smaller packets too.  Here is the link to the Big Border MEGA Bundle.  Seriously. Do it!

Anyway, I got to creating this weekend.  At first I attempted to put like 5 of the cutest borders, headers, page dividers in my one document.... It didnt work.  So I simplified. One maybe two things per paper! ha.  I dont know how I am going to choose each time I need a border.  A much better issue than the one I was having before.  I made a couple things but decided I should at least share one!

Here is my handout to go in the students reader's notebooks for Read to Self and Read to Someone.  It might be a little not useful for every, what is the word I am looking for. I dont know, but it might not work for everyone, but if it works for you feel free!  Reading Handout Freebie

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First week of school

I have a love hate relationship with the first week of school.  I love meeting new students and getting to know my new class. I love seeing what they know already and areas that we will see tremendous growth.  I love seeing (most of them) excited to come back to school.

I hate how slow things move. I hate dealing with supplies.  I hate practicing over and over again procedures!
BUT I am now finished with week one and couldn't be happier.  Week 2 is going much better.  For the most part my class is settling in nicely.  We are still working on our noise levels! ha, but things are going well.

I wanted to share a couple things I did for the first time during the first week that I really enjoyed and will do again. Before that though, I was able to participate in Laura Candler's Webinar about Sowing the Seeds of Classroom Success. It was very helpful for me and had lots of great ideas.  The livebinder where you can find all the information is here.

One of those ideas was by Christi Fultz, from Ms. Fultz's Corner, was about creating a class promise.  I LOVEd that idea.  So we did.  Almost every morning we read it together to remind ourselves of what our class should be like.  It is great.

The other thing we did was the "Me Bag", 5 things about you in a bag.  This really helped some of my students feel comfortable sharing in our class, since they started by sharing things about themselves. I hope to do a lot more sharing and speaking in front of the class this year, so this activity helped to set the tone for that!

The last thing I wanted to share was something I did do last year and did again with equal amounts of success.  I call it the Human Knot.  First I separate the boys and the girls and each gender makes a standing circle.  They put their hands in the center and find a different person's hand to hold, without it being the person beside them.  They then try to untangle the knot, without letting go.  They might have to turn, or crawl over or under another person.  This helps them get to know each other quickly on a personal level, having to be so close to each other.  As well as problem solve as a team to figure out how to untangle themselves. I love it.  Once they can do it in same gender groups and become more comfortable with each other, we do it in gender mixed groups. It is somehow more challenging for them :)

Anyway, I hope those of you just starting school have a great time! OH! Also, I saw this floating around and wanted to share it toooo!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monday Made It classroom edition

I made so many fun things for my classroom this year.  Some from scratch and some 'made' as in put together.  My classroom makes me happy this year and I am so so SO pleased about that.  Last year I was unhappy about the room arrangement and decorations and everything!

Here are some of my favorite projects.

I made these adorable Tissue Paper pom poms. I know they have been the craze, but living in Thailand I did not think it was an option.  Then the other day I was shopping and realized we do have tissue paper.  So I loaded up and made them. SUPER easy and very cute.  Everyone that sees them loves them!

I finally printed out my word wall (I dont remember who I got this from, but it was a freebie!!) It is so cute. I used ribbon as stems sort of and will add words after we complete our first writing assignment.  I have a feeling I have some bad spellers this year!

Lastly, I made this objectives/homework board. I really wanted to have a space to place objectives this year and keep us all on track.  I used ribbon instead of tape on my white board.  The ribbon is just loose enough that erasing will not be a problem! I still need to make signs saying Homework and Objectives though.


Lets just pretend that I have been blogging for months.  I have been thinking of all the posts that I want to do but never got around to.

Lets also just say that last year, my first year as a teacher, was a little more overwhelming than I thought it was going to be.

Lets also say that this is a new year, a fresh start for everything.  Including my blog!! I hope to be much better at this thing this year than last. I am doing a blog for my class as well, so hopefully that will keep me motivated.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


It is already March.  Wow.  I keep saying that every month but every month seems to fly faster than the one before.  Today is full of downloading and printing tedious wonderful centers. Ugh. I hate doing that. But it is for the good of the cause right?  Maybe tomorrow I can get a manicure or do a little shopping!

Well I am linking up with the beloved Farley and this month's Currently:

My puppy, Chico, got neutered Thursday.  He was so depressed and drugged. But since then he has been as happy and hyper as before.  This is the best picture we have ever taken together.  Plus, my new hairs.  I say new even though it was just a trim. But sometimes just a little change does a whole lot of good!

Recently, I have decided to get some clothes made, especially because finding clothes to fit me here in Thailand is not happening... Asians do not have hips... and I DO!! So tomorrow hopefully I will be out to find some fabric.

Report Cards ugh.  Enough said

Bowling - I like it.  I am generally quite the embarrasment though, skipping, sliding, and being silly.
Bananas - I LOVE bananas. I eat them all the time. In smoothies are now my favorite.
Bees - GROSS!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Simile and Metaphor Lesson and Freebie

We have been working on similes and metaphors this week.  With the vast majority of my class ESL, this has been extra difficult for them.  But we have not given up.  The goal was to focus on them as tools in writing.  We began by reading some stories to see how "real" authors use similes.  These books really helped us look at similes and metaphors.


The first two are quite simply simile books with a simple story.  The last two were much more fun for my kids to try to find the similes and metaphors as we read aloud.

After reading so many stories we made an anchor chart together.  Each student had to come up with a simile or metaphor to place on the chart.  I asked the class for the definition of each and wrote that very poorly at the bottom.  Some did not get the idea of it very well, so I knew we needed a little more practice.

As a wrap up to the lesson/concept we turned our thinking to writing and how we can use similes and metaphors to better our writing.  I had them describe a character or something that was happening using similes and metaphors.  The rules/expectations:  3-6 sentences,  a simile and/or a metaphor, neatness, color picture.  Most of them did really well.  Here are some samples.

EDIT:  Here is my sample and the chart we made together.  Overall I thought the lesson went great.  It was actually part of my formal observation so I was very pleased.

It was only after beginning this post that I realized I could have made the project cuter! So I whipped this up.  One of my first 'products'. Any feedback would be much appreciated!!  Thanks

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The past couple weeks have been full of events at school.  We have not had a full week of classes in awhile. I feel unable to really get into the groove because of it!! Anyone else ever feel that way when the schedule gets out of whack?  It doesn't help that it is a two-edged sword!  I love having fun activities and possibly extra free time but I hate losing teaching time and feeling rushed with things.

The reason today was Sports Day.  This is basically field day.  I believe the reason we have it in February is because come May/June it would be WAY to hot here to be safe.  It was quite a fun morning. I was in charge of a game called Ninja Time.  Who wouldn't like to play a game where you get to be ninjas!  Thankfully, Sports Day only goes until lunch so we did have the afternoon to work.

But nothing amazing happened to share.  Tomorrow I have a great lesson planned about similes...hopefully... so hopefully I can come back and share that with you then!

I did want to share one lovely event today with you.  I had the class check their homework with a partner.  I was standing over watching some students as they checked.  I pointed out to one student, who regularly tells me her answers are always right, that one of hers were wrong.  She looked at me quizzically and said, "But my dad wrote that one."  BAH!!! I just smiled and said "but its still wrong dear!"

Later I died laughing! Oh my goodness. How precious.  Hope you all are having a wonderful week.  Happy hump day! I will leave you with this.  Be thankful.  Found while Pinteresting

Monday, February 25, 2013

Its that time of year...

My brain can hardly wrap itself around the fact that we are almost done with the 3rd quarter. The rest of me can though! We have hit that dreaded time of year where everyone is on everyone's nerves!  The weather is starting to get hot.  We do not have spring break until April, so we have a long way to go! Thankfully, we have a couple short weeks before that which will be a welcomed escape.

Anyway, my beloved clip chart is losing effect on the kids and me.  It is probably mostly my fault as I forget to stay positive and focus on the negative behaviors.  It is losing its effectiveness for sure. Some days I have heard kids say that they do not care if they clip up or down :[ how sad!

SO I need a change.  At the beginning of the year I introduced to them the classdojo and they LOVED it!  But we were doing it and the clip chart which was a little much for me.  So I gave up on ClassDojo.  But I think now is the perfect time to bring it back.  In case you have been hiding under a rock for awhile here is the link to it!  Class Dojo 

I love the things that they are adding.  My kids and I love the avatars.  I have let them all choose their avatar to add a little more ownership and fun.  Check out my cute little avatar:

Hopefully this does the trick.  I think it will though!  I am hoping to focus on the good behaviors more rather than spending so much time on the negative behavior. It is so hard for me though! But I am going to try.  Each day is a new day right.  hmmm. just like my kids need to try each day to have good behavior.... wow lesson learned for me!

Anyway, with my clip chart I used a punch card as well. Each day they were above green they got a punch or more depending on where they were. After their chart was full they got to choose from the treasure box.  The punch card had 30 holes on it so it took roughly a month to get into the treasure box.  Since I am hoping to stay more positive and give out more awards maybe I will push that number up to 50.  So once a student gets 50 rewards they can get something from the treasure box.  Does that sound reasonable?  

Are you at that point of the year where you need a change in management?  What are you hoping to do?  Or has what you have been doing working just fine?  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hall Pass Linky

This Hall Pass linky is a huge hit so I thought I would link up!  Thanks to Reagan for the great linky.

At first I was confused about this linky, thinking it was actually sharing Hall Passes. I have my kiddos move their magnet to signal whenever they are out of the room.  Usually only to the restroom.

But that is not the purpose of this linky! It is a Pass for teachers! We all need a break occasionally.  This week more than others maybe?!?

P is for Product.  I still have not jumped into the product making completely yet.  So my favorite is a purchase my class and I use almost daily. Surprisingly it is our alphabet.  Some of us (yes I say us because I am too!) are still learning how to write in cursive.  So we keep it posted at the front of the room and check to make sure we are writing properly.  Sadly, I do not have a picture of it in my room so here is the link to Ladybugs Teacher Files DN Cursive Alphabet to check it out.

A is for area.  My favorite area was just re-done.  My kids love reading so the library is their favorite place.  We have giant bean bags and pillows for them to get comfy with.  I just got organized with the books and have them labeled with baskets!  I LOVE it.  

Right beside my library is a round table.  Here I meet with my groups for spelling, math, and reading.  I wish I had a kidney table but for now this works!  We get so much learning done here that it is one of my favorite places!  You can barely see the chair in the corner that is at the table where we work. 

S is for signal.  I have a couple tried and true methods.  My personal favorite is One *clap* Two *clap* Three *clap* FREEZE.  The class freezes whatever they are doing.  Some get in silly positions and try to hold it while I am talking.  When I am done giving instructions, I say "unfreeze and go" and the class moves on.  The other simple thing we do is when they are talking but should not be, generally not during group work time.  I will stand at the front of the room and raise my hand.  They know they are supposed to raise their hand as well, stop talking, put their eyes on me, and wait.  When everyone has done this I put my hand down, so do they and I continue. 

This summer I am hoping to learn more about Whole Brain Teaching and maybe start that next year!

S is for sanity!! We all need something to keep us sane.  I work at a small school with wonderful people.  Almost every day a group of us each lunch together.  It is wonderful.  We rarely talk about school, just life.  Often we laugh the entire time.  It is such a nice break from the day and motivates me to finish the day just as strong as I started.  

I can also easily be bribed with Reese's cups! 

What is your hall pass?  What gets you through the day? Link up and share!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Organizing my Classroom Library

I had had it with my classroom library.  Luckily I inherited gobs and gobs of books when I arrived at school. But they were in terrible condition.  The bookcases nor books had been dusted in ages.  I was overwhelmed with things to do at the beginning of the year and the library was the least of my concerns.  I had no system in place and no order.  The books were thrown everywhere and no care was given to the library by anyone.  It was sad.  But finally it got to me and I needed to fix it.

Here is a brief glimpse of how my bookcases looked after student use (I had already taken some books off but you get the idea)

Originally I thought this process would take me FOREVER! I had no idea how to organize the books or sort them or anything.  After reading countless blogs about it and realizing it does not and probably wont be perfect, I went for it.  Thank you to those who have helped me learn!

I started by sorting my books.  I made piles of biographies (I had a lot more than I realized), non-fiction, award winners, series (I knew I had a couple full series), fantasy books (my kids LOVE fantasy!), books with animal characters, and fairy tales/fables, and then piles of chapter books that I was not ready to deal with yet. And I still haven't!

I then cleaned my bookcases.... whew it was disgusting.  Then, I went home!  I had a rough estimate of the baskets that I could possibly need.  So I went shopping.  Finding large quantities of the same color basket was difficult for me, so I had to settle on less than perfect colors, but it works!  I went back to school to finish sorting and organizing.

Once I got the baskets, I had to decide which colors would hold what and which books where.  I had to try out some books before I decided.  My green baskets were the smallest so they needed to hold chapter books only, thus I decided on series baskets for them.  My white ones held the non-fiction books. And red hold fiction of all kinds!  I could probably use a few more white ones and definitely more red, but I bought the entire selection of both.  I guess I will have to wait until they restock... hopefully that happens soon!

Since I just wanted to get it done before school starts back on Monday, I did not care about cuteness. I can adjust and change later. I want to see how this goes first!  Anyway, I decided to hand make my labels for ease of change and quickness. I cut a plain white paper into 8 pieces and wrote on each label.  I then used masking tape and taped it over top of the label and the basket.  Whalah! Easy free labels!

I love it! I am so pleased.  Eventually it will look better but it is a start.  Hopefully the kids will be on board and we can keep it looking this way!  If you don't have an organized library, I strongly suggest organizing it. It makes the room look so much better and really does not have to take that much time.  I would say it took me about 5 hours from start to finish.  Not too bad!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thai Day cultural experience

Today was Thai Day.  Every year the school has a special cultural day.  It rotates with International Day, so next year we will have international day.  It is a celebration of culture, music, dance, games, crafts, food, and more.  This year Thai Day focused on the coming together of the ASEAN community, southeast Asian countries.

Brief schedule of the day:
  Normal first period... yea right! We did Spelling Tests and brief literature circles answering questions
  Second period get ready for ceremony - changing and make up
  9:30 head to ceremony
  9:45 ceremony
  11:15 (An hour and a half LATER!!)  ceremony ends. Back to class to change
  11:30 Lunch
  1:00 Games/activities begin
  2:30 LEAVE

Ok I am going to be very honest... I was very nervous for this day.  The whole school was involved plus parents plus community.  New things happening when I am supposed to be in charge scare me!  The day did not go as I thought it would.  I was frustrated most of the day.  Looking back on it though I realized my outlook affected my kids almost as much as it affected me.  I now know that I need to be energetic and try to enjoy things no matter what so that my students can try to do the same thing.  Lesson learned for sure!  My kids will feed off of my attitude.  When I am frustrated they see that and either get frustrated or out of control.  I could have made the day better by just changing my attitude!

Anyway, we separated guys and girls for changing.  The guys had pants and shirts - easy peasy!!  The girls were a whole other story.  Skirts that needed pinned, tops needed pinned, scarf things worn like a sleeve, hair, makeup the works!

I jumped right in pinning things saying over and over "I have no idea what I am doing!"  At one point I was not doing anything and asked a Thai mom what I could do.  She suggested makeup.  I was nervous.  So I carefully put some simple eye shadow on a girl and some lip color stuff.  The girl thought it was fine.  Later I noticed it was not fine because the mom took over and put more, LOTs more makeup on.  Make up was on almost, if not all, of the girls in K-6th grades.... crazy-ness!  OH and I had one of the Thai moms put flowers in my hair.  She thought it was so fun!

Then we headed to the ceremony.  Here is a picture of my class performing.  Each performance was in honor of something and all quite meaningful for the Thai folk.  For me, just seeing the costumes and the styles of dance were so fun!  The ceremony was quite long and warm but we made it.

4th Grade
4th Grade boys
4th Grade again - I couldn't resist!
These were the high school Thai Dance group.

High School Dancers
  Then there was a fashion show... yes, two guys without shirts on.  Half of the kids freaked out "eeeeeeewwwww that is so gross!"  
Models from fashion show...

 After lunch, we did some activities.  Each elementary class went to three different stations.  There were lots of stations with kids everywhere.  It was so fun to see what everyone was doing.  We did: Making Thai food, Muay Thai, and Painting Bags.  At the food station, we watched them cook a simple meal and sampled it (right after lunch might not have been my choice but thats ok!).  At Muay Thai (Thai boxing) we learned three simple moves, punching, kicking, and kneeing (is that a word?!).  I am sure my students would have rather learned more though!  Painting Bags was probably the favorite! We were in the shade - Thank goodness! - so that always helps.  Each student got a small draw string bag and painted it however they wished.  They turned out great!!

food making
Muay Thai

 Painting bags

By the end of the day we were all exhausted and ready to go home.  It was a day to remember for sure. The only picture I took of myself!

Sorry for the super long post full of pictures, but hopefully you enjoyed seeing cultural days at a Thailand international school!

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