November 2, 2012

Squirrels in the Hizouse!!!

Hi Diddley Ho, Neighbors-
Squirrels, here!

I am guest poster for my gal-pal Alisha today!
I have heard she is somewhere having fun- which is totally not cool because I'm not.
I mean, I am having fun being here with you- but I when I leave you, I go back to the same ol'  same old- and she
gets to do something exciting.

I kinda thought one of reason's I was not invited on her adventure was because she needed me to stay back and hold down the fort (blog).

Since I AM the "Boss of the Blog" right now, I pretty much have say- so and control over anything and everything that goes on here tonight.
(She might regret that).  :)

I'll break tonight up into two sections- 
Unnecessary Snark
Helpful Tips

I figure if you stick around and listen to one, then you deserve the other) :)

This begins a segment you can often find on my blog:

Let's start with projects.
What type of projects?
The type of projects that come home with your child from his/her teacher. The type of project that requires lots of supplies. The type of project that should earn the parents a grade (or a tax deduction)!
Between my Littles this year, we have been project'd out!!!
I have a third grader, a sixth grader and  a sophomore in high school-
this is what they have done in 10 weeks between the three of them:
Made the Eygptian Pyramids out of cardboard and sand
Designed a  website for the Hades, complete with making Greek Candy and a toga
Three separate costumes for theatre class
Costume for Scarecrow Play
4 Book in Bag reports
a French Book  (dont ask for deets on that, I took her word for it)
Design a Fairy Tale Set
and a visual representation of your interpretation of a subject of your choosing- 
I am going to have to buy stock in Hobby Lobby or get a second job to keep buying all this stuff!
And we still have 26 weeks of school left!

Bottom line- if the child is not gaining knowledge (like learning from an experiment or having to research something) then don't assign it. If it's just for "pretty" and they are able to bring it home the same day- then it wasn't worth it. ARGHHHH I get so frustrated!! 

From the classroom at the kitchen table to my sweeties in the room:
Today I asked them to turn over their spelling test and write one sentence with three of your spelling words in it.

Check this out:
Let me help you out- 
First he didn't follow directions- he was writing three sentences with one word.
1) _______has steke feet. (_______has stinky feet)
2) _______ has week musulls. (__________has weak muscles)
3) He is a Doosh Bag.

Oh, yeah- it happened-
He was writing about his brother, who is apparently stinky and weak- and he is also a "doosh bag".
While this is highly inappropriate, I stifled my giggles, I want us to look at the bigger picture here.
He capitalized and used punctuation. He writes with feeling- he obviously felt that being a Dbag was important enough to warrant a capital letter. He stays on topic, I mean he ran his brother through the mud through the entire thing!!!

(I needed that laugh today- so badly).

Now onto me being all helpful and stuff.

If you haven't seen some of the changes I made in my room this year, you can head over there in a bit.
 I am trying to improve my organization and management of the materials that the students use.

One of the things I did was get rid of those crappy white boards that I had in there- good gravy, they were awful!
I don't know what some of them had used on a few of them, but we could not get those puppies clean. Plus they were loud and clanky and it was just another bin to store more stuff.
So I went with the sheet protectors instead. 

 These sheet protectors have one piece of white cardstock and one piece of the nice (expensive) lined paper inside.
 So one side is white if I need them to draw something, and if we are doing a pretest or something where they need to write words, they have these beautiful straight lines. I can mark the progress that I see, and then they can erase and I am not buried under mounds of paper.
 My desks are zip-tied to make "tables". At the end of each "table" I placed a command strip and a hook. There are five students at this table, so there are five "white boards" hanging at the end. Now they are always close at hand, never buried in a bin or in their desks (which they do not store anything inside of their desks in my room- no siree bob).

 It works out really well!
 Another thing that was hard to keep up with the last few years was all those stinkin' user names and passwords they had to enter when taking AR tests,and compass tests, and Harcourt math, and magic math.......AHHHHHH!
So I used good tape to tape down a library pocket onto the top of each desk. I cut the opening with my exacto knife and then their computer info is on  an index card that slips right in- and out. They take it with them when they go to the computer and bring it back when they are done.

 I have lots of aides and therapists in my room throughout the day and if they need this info for a child to work on something on the computer, it is right there. 

Did you notice there are Letters on those green cups? The cups hold pencil, dry erase marker, then a red, blue, & green marker for language, and that's it! (Everything else is community- head over to my blog to the posts below to see how that works). 
At each "table" there is an A, B, C, D, and an E. To minimize the number of students who are up and moving when I need something turned in, distributed, or passed out I simply say "I need the Es to get handwriting paper" or "I need the Bs to get the crayon bins." So they bring what the whole group needs and since there are only four sets of tables, there are only 4 up at  a time. Since any seat in the room could potentially be yours, the cup stays at the desk and the children move. So I never have to worry about having too many of one letter at a table. It works seamlessly- my PAL even made a comment on it when we did our conference after my Eval.

Here are the posts about other ways I have organized

Organizing Centers

Organizing community supplies

How the cups work in the room.

Well that about does it for my time here- Thanks for stickin' around! If you are in the neigborhood and would like to stop by, I would love to have you:)

Going Nutty!  In Mrs. Squirrel's first grade
Have a great Weekend!! Love, Squirrels


  1. Great, great, great ideas! Thank you for sharing!
    Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas!

  2. Oh I do love you - now more than ever! I am not a parent, but I am so prejudiced against projects for no reason OR any project involving too much parent support.

    Second reason for extra love tonight: After school I looked around my room and felt like crying. This year has been an organizational fiasco (for many reasons - sigh). BUT squirrels to the rescue!!! LOVE the cups to hold items. Love, love, love! Now I am off to read about how to manage crayons.

    Lots of love to you,
    An Open Door

    1. My goal was to get me organized and let it rub off on them..... But I learn more from them everyday- at a glance they can tell if they are going to have what they need.... I wish I was a first grader!!!! Thanks for the love!

  3. Umm Squirrels, you are PURELY amazing!

  4. I LOVE the organizational tips! But even more, I love the "project commentary." I am the only one at my grade level who does not assign them--now I feel even better about my choice. Thanks, Squirrels, for the cheery start to my Saturday!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Nothing gets me as upset as that topic with teachers- I keep out if their projects, because I want it to be their work- but then they sometimes feel inferior to "Susie" who by looking at her work you can tell her mom is a scrapbooker, arts and crafts specialist!!
      I think if they are going to do them, they should allot time in the room to work on them to keep the parents off of them!!
      Glad you had a cheery start!!

  5. Miss Squirrels is so freakin' fantabulous! (Yes - that's a word - I say so!) Thanks Alisha for letting her visit today!

    How's the French Book coming along for your biggest little? I'm totally stealing the cardstock + nice lined paper idea! Do you have them sealed close somehow? My learners are big enough that they will take the paper out if I don't prevent them from doing so. Probably especially if I tell them not to! Ha!

    Tammy @ Teaching FSL

  6. I don't have mine sealed, because sometimes I slip other graphic organizers in there , but I bet some double sided tape would work-
    And she turned her book in already- we'll wait and see.... Her teacher gave them another assignment to write a scary story and they could only use the words she gave them...... Geesh- ill send you the list!!!


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