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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The First Grader... A Movie Review

The other night I watched a great movie called, The First Grader.  I knew right after I watched it that I just had to write about it and recommend it to you all!

The movie is based off a true story that takes place in Kenya.  The story follows an 84 year old man named Maruge who wants to go to school to learn how to read.  The Kenyan government had set a decree that education was free for all to go, which Maruge wanted to take full advantage of. 

We watch this man's struggle to be accepted at the local school.  This local school itself is a small shack, fifty students to a classroom, bare minimum of materials.  Despite all the obstacles, he was bound and determined to be a student and learn to read.  I loved watching the enthusiasm of all the students in the classroom, chanting and just general happy to be there attitudes.

I do warn, there are some very graphic, disturbing images, as we see flashbacks to this man's past as a tortured prisoner in a British prisoner camp.  Although sickening, it makes you root for him even more.

I was able to get the movie through Netflix but also know that my local library carried the movie too.  So if you are looking for something different to watch, check this movie out!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Free Game Friday- Featuring Deb Thomas

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today's set of free games comes from Deb Thomas of Fabulously First!  These two games are great number sense games geared towards the K-2 age range.  Be sure to check out her other math games on TPT also!

1.  Fun Frog Math - A K-2 Greater or Less than Game

2.  Odd or Even Cocoa Bears - A K-2 Odd or Even Game


Friday, July 20, 2012

Math Big Book Giveaway Contest from Kleinspiration

ETA Math Big Books

Found a goodie today!  Erin over at Kleinspiration is having a giveaway for a set of 7 Math Big Books from ETA.  This is a $269 value!  Head on over to her site to enter to win!  Good luck!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Design Contest!

I'm taking a quick moment to let you know that Christi from Ms. Fultz's Corner and Design by Christi is having a blog design makeover contest.

Pssst.... send some good thoughts my way.  I would love to win this one and spruce up this website!

Check out her website if you are intrested in a new blog design.  Check out her portfolio of blogs she has designed to get a good idea of what fabulous work she can do!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

100% on the Test Buttons Freebie

100% on the Test Buttons!

Looking for a great way to help celebrate your students' successes?  I originally saw this idea on Pinterest and knew that it would make a great addition to my own classroom.

The idea comes from Ron Clark whereas each student, who gets a 100% on his or her test, wears the button for the day!  A bit of a way to celebrate those high achievers.

These buttons are EASY to make!  I found a do-it-yourself, Design a Button, kit from Hobby Lobby.  The package looks like this...

You get 12 buttons for $4.99.  The buttons are 2.5" each.

Then you create your inside.  Print and cut.

Put your design into the button and snap shut!

Here is my finished product...

Now... to make things easy for you... Here is a free download of the button insides!!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Math Funny

I have to share this funny I found on pinterest this morning.  This totally describes me when I was a kid and hated math... and can only imagine that this is what some of my students feel like.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Free Game Friday... Featuring.... BUMP!

Welcome to Free Game Friday!

Today's free game is sponsored by Denise aka SunnyDays!

Have you ever played BUMP! in your classroom?  This is a fun, interactive math game for two players that helps to reinforce basic math facts.

All you need to play are the game boards, dice (3 for addition version and 2 for multiplication), counters or markers.

What is even better... Denise has a BUMP version for various holidays/months!  So click on over and get your free versions of BUMP today!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Tales from a National Board Candidate

I think the time has come for me to write about my National Board experience. This past school year was a roller coaster filled with highs and lows.  It was a year unlike any other I had experienced in my ten years of teaching.

For several years I wanted to take the dive in and begin my NB journey.  Each year wasn't the right year, until this past school year.  They were offering a scholarship and who doesn't like free money?   I decided that no time was better than now... or so I thought. :)

I remember when that Blue Box first arrived. (The Blue Box is the box that contains all the parts you need for your NB portfolio and is what you mail your portfolio back in).  I excitedly opened it up and went through all the parts. Of course, when you first open up that box, everything might as well be written in another language because at first you are not going to understand a dang thing.  Luckily, I had someone to guide me through and discover what each of the parts were inside that "lovely" blue box.

I decided to persue the Literacy certification.  The portfolio portion for literacy contained four entries: Reading, Writing, Listening/Speaking/Viewing/ and then you as a professional.  Each of the four parts is based off of something you do in the classroom and then reflecting on it.

My journey had a few bumps along the way.  All was going well until January when I injured my knee.  Let's just say writing and pain do not go hand in hand.  Somehow I managed to grin and bear it and managed to mail in my portfolio on the day it had to be postmarked.  Nothing like getting it done at the last minute! :)  Six days later... I was in surgery.  My surgeon wanted to take me in earlier but I said, "NO, I have to get my portfolio in on March 31st, any day after that!"  Although, the inside of me was screaming (or my knee was screaming) take me now, cut me open and fix me!

I had some time after the Blue Box to recover and end the school year.  Luckily, I was able to schedule my assessment center test on one of the very last days it was offered, which gave me plenty of time to finish the school year and then study.

This past Monday I completed the assessment portion of the process. Now everything is complete and all I can do is sit and wait until the scores are released in November.

Here are some things that I wish someone had told me beginning the process.

1.  It will take you at least a half a school year to understand what the heck you are doing and what is required of you.  You will feel stupid and question everything.

2.  No matter how many times you read the directions on a portfolio requirement, it will never make full sense and everyone has his or her own opinion on what the questions mean.  I told you, it is all written in code and in a different language.

3.  This is not a one year process!  A very small few (last I read, a little over 30%) actually fully pass their first year.  Don't push yourself to be perfect the first year, complete everything to the best of your ability but don't kick yourself for not passing the first try.  It is ok to retake!

4.  You will cry and have more break-downs that any other time in your life.  I would go into school in the morning and inform my teaching partner (who also was doing the process) that I had break-down number 5,497 last night.  Of which she would then admit to me that she cried in her car that morning (Thank you for making me feel normal Ms. W!)

I think the national board candidates in my building and I officially scared off anyone else in our building who was thinking of doing the NB process.  You know even though the process was hard, I cried over 10,000 times, and probably got permament eye strain from staring at my typing on the computer... want to know my first thought when I left the assessment center on Monday... "That wasn't bad, I think I would do it again!"

I feel good for taking on a huge feat and more accomplished for doing so.  I did something I said I wanted to do, I took it on full force, bum knee and all!  If you are thinking of doing the NB process, I encourage you to do so!  Don't let the thought of all that work scare you, you are stronger than you think and can do it!

Well, here's until next year, when I have to do retakes :)