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Monday, May 28, 2012

Techie Tuesday Giveaway!

Happy  Techie Tuesday Everyone (on a Monday night)!  
I was given the opportunity by Jenny from Learning Resources to try out the Easi-Speak Pro USB Recorder in my classroom.  Wow, what a fabulous assessment tool!  OK, I am going to be honest here... the first thing I did was sing in the microphone and pretended I was an American Idol (for those of you who personally know me, don't worry I was alone in the classroom).  

As the microphone sat on my desk and my students came in the classroom all I heard were ooohs and aaahs!  My little froggies  were so excited that we were going to  karaoke  read with a microphone.  At first only my best readers volunteered.  They read into the Easi-Speak Pro with a partner in my classroom library. They would listen to how they sounded and almost immediately I heard improvements of intonation and fluency.  No, this mircrophone doesn't "teach" the students how to read however, once they heard their voices playback they made changes right away.

Soon everyone in my class was "fighting" to use the microphone.  OK, there wasn't any actual punches thrown but there was 22 kids wanting to practice their reading instead of doing anything else.  I had to use it as an incentive instead of an assessment for a little bit.

Here is one of my 4th grade froggies practicing her reading.

I used this microphone while I was giving my end of year reading assessments.  I didn't have to record everyone but it did allow me to record those students who are still struggling readers.  I was able to let the parents of a few of these children hear their child read and also hear what he or she should sound like when they are reading at the end of fourth grade.

I only have three and half days of school left this year....Yippee!  However when I use this next year I plan on using this for our RTI meetings and to even have the kids record their reading to go along certain books. It will be so great to share the student's reading abilities with our reading specialist. I also plan on using this microphone for our oral presentations.  Can you imagine how fun that would be?  Too cool!   Gosh, I have a ton of ideas for uses next year.

Learning Resources is extremely generous and did not only give me an Easi-Speak Pro USB Recorder for me to use but is giving one of my followers one as well!  WOOHOO!  How awesome is that?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Be GREAT! (freebie)

As I reflect on this year, I really noticed that a lot of teachers like to compete with each other.  I'm not talking about friendly competitions like whose class can master their division facts first or which class collected the most food for the food drive (which by the way, my class lost). 
I'm talking about teachers being mean to each other and trying to look better than the next by being  hurtful.  If we don't  respect and take care of each other, who will?  Already many people, not in the education, field think we are glorified babysitters and others think we hardly work at all... you know our hours are basically 8:00 - 3:00 and we have summers off {I say in my most sarcastic voice}.    As educators who want the best for each and every child in our school, heck in the world, we need to build each other up! We need to respect each other, work together, and laugh together to be the best we can be!

Anywho, I made this printable just for you!  Yes you! We can all use a reminder to inspire others to be great!  I am planning on putting this right on my classroom door so every time we walk in our classroom we all (the students and myself) we are reminded to help others be GREAT!  Click on the printable pic above or CLICK HERE to download your free printable.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Remember the Alamo!

Remember the Alamo?  We won't forget it!  Living in San Antonio and teaching 4th Grade The Alamo is a must do for a field trip (not only do we study The Alamo but its free).  We also go the The Institute of Texan Cultures to learn even more about  early Texas and the people of the Texas regions.  With Budget cuts our field trip funds have really been cut back but we still managed to pull off an awesome trip!  I had 4 chaperones which was perfect since I only have 21 kids in my class.... we each had 4-5 kids.   

Here we are on the bus.  There are six 4th grade classes so we took 3 buses. Chaperones had to take their own cars.  Each student was ask to bring a clip board, pencil, lunch, snack, drinks, and backpack.  All the students carried their own stuff and the teachers had their own bag or backpack to carry our own lunches, student medicines (if necessary) and first aid kit.    To make sure the kids actually looked around and read plaques, signs, etc we made a scavenger hunt for them to complete.  A couple of years ago our fabulous team leader, Jane, went to the Alamo before our field trip and made the scavenger hunt. We've been using it ever since.   The kids get competitive and strategic trying to be the first group to complete the hunt.  

For those of you who don't study Texas history here is a brief explanation of the Alamo from The Alamo Website.

The Alamo was originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero and served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio's five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission's but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.
In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for "cottonwood") in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post's commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico's ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.
San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Martín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós' men — and strengthened its defenses.
On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna's army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna's army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.
The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo's walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against impossible odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason, the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.  [source: http://thealamo.org/battle/battle.php]
I hope if you ever come to San Antonio, Texas for a visit you MUST stop at the Alamo.  It contains so much history and has so many artifacts that help you imagine you were there. Here are some resources we use when studying the battle of the Alamo:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Please VOTE for me!

Accelerated Degree Programs
I've been nominated for the most fascinating blog of 2012! 
 I would super duper appreciate if you would vote for me by clicking the pic above!
Voting starts today, May 14th and the winner will be chosen on May 21st!
Thanks in advance!
To vote click on the pic below and look at the middle of the page. You will see something that says:
 TO VOTE. Click G+1 on your blog of choice Click here
Click on the "CLICK HERE" and it will take you to the google plus page. You will need to click on the "159 comments" to see the blogs nominated. Unfortunately my blog is listed under http://vasquezfrogs.blogspot.com rather than www.fabulous4thgradefroggies.com  so please don't let that mix you up. Just look for  http://vasquezfrogs.blogspot.com  and  you have to do is to G+ me!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

I hope everyone (including all teachers who are like mother's to their students) has a FABULOUS day!  
Here's a picture of me and my mom who I love more than life itself!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Classroom DIY

Have you visited Classroom DIY yet?  It's a FABULOUS new blog full of school-related DIY projects. Today's project is a very inexpensive, pinterest inspired end of the year gift to make for you students.... written by yours truly. :)
Classroom DIY

Stop by Classroom DIY and check out all the awesome DIY school related projects! Don't forget to follow the blog so you don't miss out on anything.  If you have a cool school related DIY you want to submit you can do that too.   Hope to see you there!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

Happy Friday! Happy Weekend! Happy Teacher Appreciation month!  I feel truly blessed to be an educator but I will admit its sometimes a thankless job.  Many people who aren't in the education field think we are glorified babysitters.  Others think we have such an easy job because we work from 7:30 - 2:30 and get the summers off.  I know that many of us work 12 hour days and still take stuff home at night or over the weekends.  Many of us spend the summers going to workshops, creating new lessons, and laminating till we can't see straight.  We spend our own money on classroom decor, supplies for our students, and lamination pouches (do you see a trend here?)

We appreciate all of you! My good friend Blair Beck, A.K.A. "Princess Beckster" and I would like to show you a token of our appreciation by giving one lucky teacher this adorable #1 Teacher Tote!   Blair and I became friends when we first started teaching together many years ago.  Princess Beckster is a bit of a shopaholic and after buying many Thirty-One bags herself she decided to become a consultant.  I am so glad she did because she is my one and only Thirty-One Gifts consultant.  She gives the best party incentives (even catalog and online parties) and goes over and beyond to make her customers happy.

You have 5 chances to win this awesome bag!  Just follow the directions below.  
GOOD LUCK and remember you are very appreciated for all you do!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

4th Grade Review - Olympic Style!

Testing is now over but I jut had to share how my fourth grade team reviewed for an entire week and the kid loved it!  Yup, you heard me right! The kids LOVED reviewing for our state test!

The week before testing our grade level decided to have a competition of Olympic proportion!  The picture above is part of the hallway display we put up between some of our classrooms.  We kind of thought of this at the last minute and could have made it so much better but there's always next year.  Each day the students had to "compete" in 4 events - two reading, two math.  The blue bordered titles on the red paper above tell the events....  Event #1 was Main Idea,  Event #2 was Geometry, etc.  The teachers did a reteach of whatever the skill was in their own classrooms,  then we all gave the same 10 question assessment. Each student had the opportunity to win their own medal and then the classroom as a whole could win bragging rights.  Each teacher recorded their students scores in an excel sheet and the class that had the highest average overall won gold, second won silver, and third won bronze.

You can't really see it  in this picture but we had Gold Silver Bronze medals going down on the red paper.  The names are the names of the teachers.  I was determined to take down Burnett so happy for Mrs. Burnett since she took the gold 6 or 7 times in a row!  

On the white part of the display we attached a picture of every 4th grader in our school by clustered by classrooms.  We have six 4th grade classrooms with 22-24 students.  The students earned individual medals too.  Gold = score of 90-100,  Silver = 80 -89, and Bronze = 70- 79.  When the teachers graded the assessment (sometimes we did it as a class as we went over it) the students got their score and gave the student whatever medal they earned so they can place it under their picture.  OMG! You would think the medals were real (they were printed on cardstock)  with all the excitement the students had.  It was amazing how hard the kids tried to get medals.

We did a total of 16 events, four a day for four days.  On that Friday we had early release and our Fiesta parties (Yes, only in San Antonio is Fiesta a holiday that we celebrate!) so we didn't have time for anymore events.  By the way, notice my class finally did get a gold medal!!!!!!!!! :)
Next year we would like to have a "closing ceremony" with some sort of celebration.  We will start planning way earlier and may even do it every Friday for a month instead on 4 days in a row.  Either way, the kids were really engaged and loved our 4th Grade Olympics!

How did you review for your state tests?