Thursday, January 26

Dirt Babies

I first heard about "dirt babies" from Dr. Robbie McCarty at S.W.O.S.U. and when I decided last week to teach about the environment and the ecosystem, this seemed like a WONDERFUL idea to get the children engaged and interactive with science. If you do not know what a dirt baby is, stick with me and I will let you know...there will also be PLENTY of tutorial pictures to accompany this post. Let me start off by giving you a glimpse of our finished project....just to wet your appetite.
Dirt babies are basically "homemade" chia pets. The children get a kick out of observing the growth of the "hair" on their dirt baby; they also LOVE to give their dirt babies hair cuts!!! Since we were talking about living things, non-living things, individuals, populations, and communities; myself and the other 4th grade teacher thought this would be a neat way to bring all of the information together. In my classroom, as we were making our dirt babies, I was assessing if the students knew if each item added was a living or non-living thing. The children seem to have picked up on this lesson pretty well. Now...without further ado, I will start discussing how to actually create a dirt baby of your own!
You will need:
--Knee High Stockings (do not get the ones with the reinforced toe)
--Grass Seed
--Potting Soil
--A Cup
IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE!!! For step by step instructions...continue reading.
First thing that you will need is some grass seed. This can be any type of grass seed. We got ours from our local conservation district (Thanks for the donation!!!) You will want to put about 1 tablespoon of the grass seed into the toe of the knee high stocking. 
Then, you will want to put in about 1 cup of potting soil.
After you pour in your dirt, your knee high stocking will start SAGGING!!!

Be VERY careful not to make a big mess with the potting soil! I accidentally spilled some while filling a dirt baby. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS NEXT SENTENCE!!!!! If you do make a mess, go to your janitor and ask if you can get something to clean up the mess yourself!!! If you haven't figured out yet, your janitor makes the WORLD GO ROUND! Do not ruffle the feather's of your janitor or he/she can make your life no so good. When I made my mess, I told my janitor that I would clean it up, but he offered to go ahead and get it....He did mention that potting soil is not nearly as bad as glitter.
After pushing all of the dirt into a ball, you will want to tie a knot into the stocking so you can form your dirt baby's head. After you have tied your knot, you will want to cut off some of the excess knee high fabric. Be sure to leave enough length on the stocking so that it can reach the water in the cup. Your knee high fabric will actually wick the water to the plant, so if you make sure there is enough water in your cup, you won't have to worry about watering your dirt baby on a regulary basis! We used construction paper to make outfits for our dirt babies and we hot glued googly eyes to them as well. I will give you another shot of our finished product. Both of us 4th grade teachers put our dirt babies on the same table outside of our classroom. My class's dirt babies have bigger heads (on the right)...but it is a good representation to let you know that there is absolutely no single way to milk a cow.
I hope that you have learned something today and might even try this in your own classroom! Thanks for sticking with me today! I hope to see you all back here soon. If you like what you see...FOLLOW ME!!!

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Friday, January 20

Communication is key...

Hello again my fellow friends! After not posting for a week or so because I haven't had time(welcome to the life of a teacher), I have decided to write a new post about communication with parents. I truly believe that communication really is the key to having a lasting relationship with your students' parents. If you have been reading my posts you know that I have previously talked about communication through the "Daily Brag" idea. If you haven't had a chance to read that post, I suggest you do, it really is a useful bit of information. Another way that I continue my communication with parents is with my weekly newsletter. I utilize my newsletter to give the parents a "snapshot" as to what their child is doing in my classroom for the week. I can't seem to get a picture uploaded so I will work to see if I can get my newsletter on here somehow.

I include the following in my newsletter:

Important Information (Any news that is important and relevant to our fourth grade classroom)
Birthdays (Any student who has a birthday for the week that this newsletter is being sent out)
Weekly Spelling Words (That way the parents know what words the children are learning and hopefully it encourages the parents to work with the children on their spelling words.)
Literacy and Math Tips (These change weekly)
What We're Learning (I break everything down for the parents, what we're doing in Reading, Math, English, Science, and Social Studies)
Student of the Week (Chosen randomly so every student has a spotlight)
A few quotes that are meaningful.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST... I have my contact information, that way if at any time a parent needs to get into contact with me, they are given my information on a weekly basis. I include the school address, my planning period, the school phone number, and my school e-mail address.

Like I said, I will try to get a picture of my newsletter on here sometime here shortly...If you don't see it soon then that means I failed at my attempt. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time........

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Friday, January 13

Assertive Discipline

I decided that I would do a real quick post (we will see about that) today...I know it is Friday and I will not keep you guys too long! First of all some of you may not know what assertive discipline is, so I will give a quick definition and then continue with my post. If you would like to know a bit more about assertive discipline go to .

Assertive discipline is a structured, systematic approach designed to assist educators in running an organized, teacher-in-charge classroom environment.

I found an idea on Pinterest (LOVE IT and it is a teacher's best friend for fresh ideas) an idea that I can find the original idea at (looking back now, I didn't realize how closely our blogs were named...there is great stuff here!)

Here is my assertive discipline plan: I printed out my words, taped them to construction paper, and then laminated ONE LONG guitar. I then hot glued the names of my students to clothes pins! ***Here is a word of caution!!!!!! Do not think double laminating will make the whole project much thicker and more durable (like I did)...It will end up ruining the whole thing and you will have to start all over!

The Whole Guitar
The Top Of The Guitar
The Middle Of The Guitar

The Bottom Of The Guitar
Here are the labels that I have chosen:

Rockin' Behavior is the title of my assertive discipline plan.
-(Red) I have "You're a Rockstar! Welcome to Hollywood! Get 1 sticker...Collect 10 stickers for a FREE homework pass!!!"
-(Orange) I have "May I Have Your Autograph? You're going to be famous!"
-(Yellow) I have "A Stellar Performance! Keep it up!"
-(Green) I have "Let's Rock N' Roll! You're ready to learn!" This is where the kiddos start their day every day. It is up to them whether they move up the levels or down the levels.
-(Blue) I have "Singin' The Blues. Practice makes perfect." This is the "warning" place.
-(Light Purple) I have "Speak With Management! Student will write about the issue that caused their name to be here and what they will do to correct the problem!"
-(Dark Purple) I have "One Show Cancelled! Student walks all recess."
-(Grey) I have "All Tour Dates Cancelled! Teacher will contact parent about student's behavior.

This is something that you can completely make your own and change it how you see fit. Even though the grey bar says I will contact the parent, I actually walk the student out at the end of the day and stand there while the student tells the parent why they got into trouble (usually cue the water works). I hope this might have inspired you to use an assertive discipline plan in your classroom but remember....What works for me, might not work for you! Hope to see you back here soon! Don't forget to leave me a comment to let me know if you like what you see, and also don't forget to follow me!!!

Have a BLESSED day!!! :)
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Thursday, January 12

Daily Brag idea

Okay ladies and gentlemen!!! Here is my first "idea" post. If you are just now joining me, please take a moment and read my first will give you an idea as to who I am and how I got here! This idea is a combination of ideas put together for something that I utilize in my classroom. The first idea was a daily brag. You may be asking yourself, "What is a daily brag?"....keep reading to find out! :)

Daily Brag:

 I was challenged at the beginning of my teaching journey to do a "daily brag". I am keeping my eye out for a child that just gets it right for the day, or for a student who shows the most improvement over a certain period of time. When I pick my bragger for the day, I walk the student out to their parents/guardian and "brag" on the student for their behavior. I take the time to introduce myself (if I haven't ever met them before), spend a few minutes letting them know that I enjoy their child in my classroom, and I offer any assistance I can to ensure that their child succeeds in my classroom. This gives the opportunity build rapport with the parent. AND, if you successfully get the parent to understand that you are there for the success of their child, they will be behind you if you ever have to go to them with a behavioral problem. Every time that I have done this, I have had great success.

Now--A word of caution. Remember to be conscious of your nonverbal communication as you walk the student to their parents. I have had an instance where it appeared that I was upset with the child when I wasn't. The person who said something to me about it didn't know what I was doing and they assumed that the student was in trouble (which is easily understood because most of the time when a teacher is standing with a student at the end of the day it is to gripe about something). SO BE CAREFUL!!! And always, always smile!!! :)

The other thing that I have started doing with my daily brag is the daily brag grab bag. You will see below what it is and what I do with it.

Daily Brag Grab Bag

The students know that I am looking for the ALL STAR STUDENT of the day. Since I have added the "grab bag" feature, my classroom behavior has been much better. I select my student at the end of the day, and the children look forward to who will be picked. I have made some coupons that the students randomly select and then they are awarded with a prize. This is a great idea because the awards DO NOT COST THE TEACHER A THING!!!!!! I just printed these out on colorful construction paper. I also put a spot for the day that I awarded it and a spot for who awarded it. These can be used all year long, so if the students want to "hoard" them until the end of the school year...that is fine with me! ALSO...they are not transferable to another student. Below is a list of the rewards that I chose to use. I will also give more suggestions that can be used...but if you are using this then YOU can make up WHATEVER you want!

Rewards I chose:

-Have You Had Your Break Today? Pass (Enjoy a hassle-free restroom and drink break anytime YOU, YES YOU decide.)
-FREE Homework Pass (Never, not ever redeemable on a test--sorry!)
-Teacher's Chair Pass (Swap chairs with the teacher for the day--aahhh!) <--The children LOVE this one! Not only are they sitting in the "teacher" chair...the teacher is sitting in the students chair.
-Have a Soda Pass (Bring a drink of your choice to enjoy during class--drink must have a lid. Refreshing!)
-Tasty Treat Pass (Bring a snack and a drink to enjoy during class. A delicious pick-me-up during a hard day's work)
-Livin' the Good Life Pass (Only do half of a lesson, ANY lesson. Choose wisely!)
-Bonus Point Bonanza Pass (10 extra bonus points to be applied to any assignment of your choosing.)
-Buddy Pass (Work with a buddy on classwork. Hey--2 heads are better than one!)

Other options:

-Open Book Test Pass (Any subject, any test, it's perfectly legal, do not feel guilty.)
-Drop the Bomb Pass (Drop the lowest A.R. reading test score of your choice.)
-Correction Protection Pass (Enjoy 1 day to say, "Thanks, but No Thanks" to doing your homework corrections.)
-Grace and Mercy Pass (For that 1 time you forgot to take your homework home.)
-iPod Pass (Bring an iPod or walkman with headphones and your favorite music to listen to during work time. Music must be appropriate for school, of course.)
-Read the Hour Away Pass (Read your favorite book, for an hour while everyone else is working! ***Note: You'll still be responsible for turning in the work for the next day. NOT REDEEMABLE ON TESTS)

I believe that this is all that I have for this post. I hope that I might have inspired you to try something new! Thanks for sticking with me today and I hope to see you again soon. Remember.....if you like what you see, tell me about it in the comments section and tell your friends about the blog....if you don't like what you see, tell you friends you saw this idea on another blog! :)

Have a BLESSED day!

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Wednesday, January 11

New Beginnings

New beginnings seem to happen all of the time. That is how life happens, something old is ALWAYS ending and something new is ALWAYS beginning. I have decided to start something new...and if you are reading this, then WELCOME TO MY NEW BEGINNING MY FRIENDS!!! I have never blogged before, but since this is the way technology is heading, I might as well start now. You may be wondering who I am and what I am here for...and if you stick with me for just a bit, you will soon find out. For my very first blog I want to tell you about my "something" that has just ended, which inturn leads to my "something" that is just beginning. Grab yourself a drink and enjoy the next few minutes with me as I take a walk through memory lane. This was my journey....

I graduated high school from Snyder High School in May 2004. I got married to a small town girl in August 2004. A few weeks later I started college at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. When I first started college I was completely gung ho about my new journey. I decided I would major in Elementary Education. To tell you the truth, I knew since 3rd grade that I wanted to be a teacher. After going to college for a year and a half, things started to go down hill. I was working a full time job at a fast food restaurant and quickly moved up the ladder to Shift Manager. I saw that I was making pretty decent money and started thinking that I didn't HAVE to finish college to lead a good life. I knew that I didn't want to work in the fast food industry for the rest of my life, but I thought it was a good start. One day, close to the end of the semester, life threw it's first curve ball at me. This curve ball was basically "the cherry on top" that made me decide that I could do things without a college degree. I decided to see what the world had to offer and postpone my college education. Shortly thereafter I decided to change jobs as well. NOW, I was no longer a college student and I was working at a quick stop. I was making the same amount of money at this job as I was being a Shift Manager at the fast food restaurant. Things were also going wonderfully at this job, however, I knew this still wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. One evening, while working at the quick stop, we had a guy come in who proceeded to rob us!!! It was by far the scariest thing I had ever encountered. That was when I decided to get serious about finding a job that would make me happy for the rest of my life. I applied at a loan office in Weatherford, Oklahoma and eventually got the job. This was a pretty decent job and the money was GREAT!!!! I met one of my best friends at this job (shout out Krystal)! It wasn't too long and the opportunity came for me to take a management position at another branch in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. My wife, being as supportive as she was, told me to go for it. I was now on my way to Tahlequah for the "job of a lifetime" (as I perceived it at that time). A few months in (and wouldn't you know it) live threw another curve ball at me. I quickly moved back to Weatherford and rejoined my friend Krystal at the Weatherford loan office branch. Since I was a previous manager at the Tahlequah branch and I abruptly had to leave my post, the Weatherford thing was only temporary. I had to take the first manager opening that presented itself. Luckily for me, a position opened up in Cordell, Oklahoma (about 30 minutes away from Weatherford). Now is the time for me to tell you a bit about the loan company that I worked for. It was their policy that if I saw a "customer" who owed the company money in a store (any store) it was my job (on or off the clock) to approach them and remind them that they owed us money. Cordell is a pretty small town, and quite a few people owed this company money. I was forever running into people who owed the company money. It didn't take too long and I started to get a bad name around town. Since I now lived in Cordell, I knew this wasn't a good position to be in. So, I started looking for another job. I (honest to God) found a WONDERFUL job at a pet food manufacturing plant. I was a clerk that dealt with all aspects of the business. This was a job that I would not have minded doing for a very long time. Despite ALL of life's ups and downs my wife continued to complete her college degree. After a few years of working at the pet food plant (and our first born child later), she was presented with a job offer that called for us to move. This move we were willing to make because it got us MUCH closer to home. So we moved to Altus, Oklahoma. This, of course, meant that I had to change jobs once again. Since my wife was going to be making pretty decent money and I had definately had my fill of job swapping, I decided that she would be the one bringing home the most amount of money and I would work a part time job and go back to school to complete my Elementary Education degree. Since Altus was not close to S.W.O.S.U., I decided to take as many courses ITV and only drive a few days back and forth. I got a pretty good job with a National cell phone provider, the money wasn't amazing, but they worked with my schedule VERY well. Over the time, I continued to work a part time job and go back and forth to school. Sometime during that year, we found out that my wife would not be rehired at her job and it meant another QUICK move (another nice curve ball wouldn't you say). We moved to Hollis, Oklahoma where my wife is originally from. After living in Hollis for about 6 months, my wife and I learned that we were expecting our second child. On the day that we found out we were having our second girl, I found out that my position was being done away with and I was now unemployeed (yet another WONDERFUL curve ball). Here was the big wife was still unemployeed!!! Since I am great at finding good jobs quickly (thank you God), I got a position at our local DHS office. I worked at this job and rounded out my college education. Finally, in August, I got the chance to do my student teaching in Hollis, in the 3rd grade. My student teaching went wonderfully and I learned quite a bit. Now, if you know anything about Hollis, this past year one of the 4th grade teachers was named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Little did I know, this would present an opportunity for me. Hollis Public Schools decided to give the Teacher of the Year some time off so she could focus on all of her appearances that she had to make. In the same decision, Hollis offered me a long term substituting position to cover her class. What this means is I am the "full time" teacher and she is my "instructional coach". Simply put: her and I work together to ensure that the class will succeed.

I hope you are still with me because this is where I get to the whole point for my first blog. My "something" that just ended was my whole college experience, and my "something" beginning is my journey to being a successful teacher. It really took all of the above experiences for me to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is what I am supposed to be doing for the rest of my life. I finally feel happy and content with my future, gone are the days of feeling like I don't fit in. I am pumped about my future and I am hoping that this "long term substitution" gig will turn into a full time position somewhere within the Hollis school district. I will post the good, the bad, and the great things that are happening in my teaching life. I hope that someone out in the World Wide Web will learn something about my mistakes, and possibly not make the same ones. Please feel free to leave me comments and/or suggestions and know that I will take them to heart.

As you sip that last sip out of your drink, I want to leave you with something that I found on the internet just a few moments ago. This will be the last of my post for today, and I thank you for spending a little time getting to know me.

This is the beginning of a new day. I have been given this day to use as I will. I can waste it. . . or use it for good, but what I do today is important, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it! When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain and not loss; good and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall not regret the price that I have paid for it. I will try just for today, for you never fail until you stop trying.

Good night y'all....and hopefully see you back here soon!
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