My Tush Hurts!

I have literally been sitting here at my computer since before lunch time!  I am in pain, tired, and for what you ask?  I have been creating some Weather Foldables for Interactive Science Notebooks!  And I am finally finished.

It ended up being a 27-page PDF document that also includes teacher answer keys for many of the pages.  I really try to do EVERYTHING in our Interactive Science Notebook and this cuts down on prep work for me and keeps all of the important information that I want my kiddos to know and remember organized (and if you haven't caught on yet...I live for organization!)  The use of a textbook in my classroom is nearly obsolete...we truly rely on the ISN as the sole source of information and we use it daily, so you've got to keep things interesting for your students.

To be taken directly to the product on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, click HERE.

Pages include information on:
•Differences in Temperature (in the oceans, on the Earth, in air masses)
•Jet Stream
•Weather vs. Climate
•Meteorologist for a Day (Forecasting the weather using a weather map)
•Pressure Systems and Fronts
•El Nino & La Nina (and normal conditions)
•Land and Sea Breezes
•Air Masses (3)
•Global Winds (2)
•Fronts (warm, cold, stationary)
•Air Pressure (Barometric Pressure)
•Weather instruments
•Reading Weather Maps
•Ocean Currents

Check out a few pages of the final product.

Good night, all my blogging buddies.  I am off to get a much needed massage from my hubby.  :)

Easy Bake Oven Turns 50

It has been awarded Time Magazine’s top 100 toys of all time.

The Easy Bake Oven will turn 50 in 2013 and to mark this important milestone, Part Select put together this infographic to showcase its evolution  from its turquoise beginnings to the modern, light bulb free version that is being produced today!  They've asked me to share this with all of my blogging buddies!  Just click on the infographic picture below to be taken to their site and see a larger version (one that you can actually read!)

Who knew that a little Easy Bake Oven Cookbook would be this popular?!?  If you missed my FREE printable cookbook, click HERE to be taken to my original post.

Weather You Like it or Not...

I decided to start working on my next semester...WEATHER!  I just finished my word wall terms/pictures that also include Spanish translation word strips.  You can check them out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

(In case you've missed my other word wall posts, I highly recommend using these with the vinyl pockets from Lone Star Learning.  Click HERE to be taken to their site.)  This is what my word wall looked like during my physics unit:
I post the terms right above my hand-in area (students are frequently in this area turning in papers or picking up their graded papers)'s definitively a high-traffic area.  (and yes, I color-code EVERYTHING!  Each class has a designated primary color for the entire year.  I know...I have issues.
In addition to my word wall, I have dedicated an area of my board for posting my student learning objectives and guiding questions.  (In all honesty, this was more of a mandated thing for everyone in my district -- we have been thoroughly trained with the strategies of Seidlitz.).  But either way, I find that it holds me accountable for making sure that I'm teaching exactly what I am supposed to be teaching and "staying in my lane".  There's nothing worse than planning a great activity/lesson only to have the kids say "we did this last year in Mrs. So-and-So's class!"  In the beginning, it was really more of a hassle to me...I have to write the daily agenda on one board, make sure I had all of my handouts/materials/Power Points/Video clips/Labs, etc... ready for the day, AND make sure my objectives were posted along with the guiding questions.  

To cut down on the amount of writing I had to do, I decided to just create a very simple (and cute) way to post the guiding questions (since they can change from day to day, whereas the objectives may stay the same for an entire unit).  I just attached a thick ribbon to the back of my Guiding Questions Sign with hot glue.  Down the length of the ribbon, I hot glued 4 tiny clothespins to hold the guiding questions signs (check for spacing before you glue them down).  And viola!  I keep the signs stored in a file cabinet nearby organized by unit and all I have to do each day, is clip up the pertinent guiding questions.  Much easier!     

I've also created all of the guiding questions signs for my upcoming Weather Unit.  You can check them out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

Here's a little peek at the products that can now be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  

And these are a few of the Guiding Questions signs:

Christmas FREEBIE- Merry Christmas Bunting

I've been hard at work today, preparing for another week in the science classroom and preparing my home for my parents to come visit this coming weekend.  To add a nice touch to my Christmas decor, I decided to make a Christmas bunting.  I haven't decided if I am going to add it to my tree or at the entrance to my kitchen, but regardless of my indecisiveness I wanted to share this with all my blogging buddies.   (Maybe I'll post a pic to show my final decision).  Hmmm....It would also look great in my classroom....

Please share where you decided to display it.

Merry Christmas to you all!  (Right click on each JPEG image below to save it to your computer.)  Or if you prefer a PDF, click HERE.

Images and Bunting Backgrounds are from Smitten Blog Designs

Not sure if I'm in love with this or not, but I went ahead and put the bunting on the tree tonight. I'm thinking a mantle or my classroom would look better. Opinions??

In Love With My Glue... and Classroom Organizational Systems I know this is on the verge of the most pathetic statement EVER, but... I am in love with my new glue caps!  I can't tell you how many times I've said "A Dab'll Do Ya!" as I watch in horror as my 8th graders mound a glob of glue onto something that is about to be glued into the Interactive Science Notebook.  Now, I don't have to say it anymore and even better... my students think these caps are so cool.  Of course a few of the smarty-pants Pre-AP kids have figured out how to circumvent the entire thing by removing the cap altogether (they think they are soooooo hilarious...ugh, how annoying!), but for the most part, it has been a huge success.

But really, they are perfect for teachers who really utilize the interactive notebooks on a daily basis.  And as an added bonus, they don't spill out glue when the kids throw them in a drawer or they end up laying on their side.  The caps will fit on the 4 oz or 8 oz bottles.

So, here they are....wait for it......

AHHHHHH..... (insert heavenly angel music here)

I got mine at School Specialty (click HERE to be taken directly to the product).

Classroom Organizational Systems

I love my over-the-door organizer (it can also be wall mounted) from Simply Stashed.  Even though my arrangement isn't exactly beautiful, it is a great product and would be a great addition to any classroom (or home).  This one is the "Variety Stash", but they have many other shapes, sizes, and arrangements.

Check it out by clicking HERE.

I have built in shelving in my room (which I cover with fabric curtains to hide what is behind them more than anything).  I've tried using stacked document trays, but I never really loved them and they couldn't hold very much weight, without buckling.  This summer, I found these stack-able nesting bins at Wal-Mart.  I can print my handouts for weeks in advance, organize and store them in these stacking bins.  Things are easy to find and easy to take off the shelf.  No more stacking paper trays for me.  Click HERE to be taken directly to the Sterilite product.

Below is a pic of my paper hand-in area  (and to the right of each hand-in box (in the vertical boxes) is where I put all graded papers).  My students never have to ask where to hand-in classwork (tests and major grades are always turned into me directly).  And if they are wondering if I've graded a particular assignment or not, they know exactly where to go and check for it.  If it's not in the graded papers box for their class, it hasn't been graded -it's as simple as that.

And above that, you can see my word wall.  I teach ELL's, regular ed students, Pre-AP and GT students.  It's important that my word wall is friendly for ALL!  I think it's muy importante to include the Spanish version of each word in addition to some sort of related visual to accompany it.  You can purchase my "Forces that Change the Earth Word Wall Terms" HERE, along with all of the other word wall terms I've created up to this point (more to come as the year progresses) in my Teacher Pay Teachers store.  The vinyl pockets that I put them in were purchased from a company called Lone Star Learning.  Click HERE to be taken directly to their site.  I love these pockets because they have an area perfect for displaying your 4.5″ x 8″ vocabulary cards and a small additional pocket to hold either the definition strip or the Spanish word strip to accompany the displayed card.

Newest Product - Just in Time for the Holidays

I am so excited about my newest product and it's winter/Christmas themed!  It is an Exploration Station Rotation activity, in which students move around the room, exploring different forces in motion, using easy-to-find-materials.  As they work on each station, they record observations and data into their Interactive Science Notebook.

After completing the 2 day investigation, you teach them about Newton's 3 Laws of Motion (which I have some great Forces in Motion Foldables (see below) to help you with just that!)  Then, have the students come back to the observations and data in their ISN's and explain how each of Newton's 3 Laws was evidenced in each station.

This year, I numbered my students off, assigning just one station to each group.  For example, all of the 1's were in charge of Station 1 and teaching the class how all 3 of Newton's Laws were evidenced in that station (they became the experts and taught the rest of the class.)  While they were presenting to the class, the audience took notes and asked questions.  It was a great way to spiral back to previous investigations and relate new information to prior learning and personal experiences.

Get it in time for the holidays!  Just $5 on my Teachers Pay Teachers site!

Click on the picture below to be taken directly to it.        

December Currently and a Hurting Heart

I am linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy, 4th grade for the December version of Currently.

I really struggled answering the last one...Random Acts of Kindness.  I have had a tough day today... I found out that one of my sweet 8th graders lost his father today.  And if that wasn't bad enough, today is also my student's birthday.  I wish I could DO something - a random act of kindness, in a way.  I want to attend his father's funeral, even though I've never met him and I want to find a way to honor and celebrate his father's life, but I am seriously at a loss...I don't know what to do.  I've always thought that if I taught an English class, I could be more of a touchy, feely, emotional type of teacher.  But being a science teacher, we don't often get to see that side of our students - their emotions and inner thoughts.  We look at evidence, collect data, and focus on the things that are observable in this world.  It's tough to find a place to fit in faith and feelings to the mix.        

I spent several hours today online, looking for ideas to use in the classroom when dealing with a loss, but it simply boils down to this - NO child should have to bear the burden of losing a parent at such an early age.  They aren't prepared and the emotions are confusing. While it can be a good thing for the student to have the routine of school and the stable environment, I, as the teacher, don't know how much or how little attention to give to the situation.  My heart just aches...  Please say a little prayer to bring my student healing and sweet remembrances of his father.

Need some more ideas to spread kindness at your workplace?  Check out: Kind Over Matter

Liebster Award! I'd like to thank my family and all of the people who have supported me along the way. Just kidding!

Wow!  I was actually nominated by two different people for the Liebster Award!  A huge thanks goes out to Marine at Tales From A Very Busy Teacher and The Babbling Box! Make sure you click on their blog names to be taken directly to their site.  This award is given to up and coming bloggers with 200 or less followers. I began this blog because I saw a great need for middle school teachers to share their ideas and classroom tips.  Sadly, there isn't much out there for middle school teachers (at least in the blogging world and Teachers Pay Teachers could also use a bigger middle school presence.)   I would love to see the blogging world "blow up" with talented, generous middle school teachers who are passionate about what they do, who they teach, and continuing their careers as life-long learners.  Let's start the chain reaction!

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award…
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see whom you nominate.

11 random things about me:
1.  My middle name is Rose, but it should be "Sarcastic".
2.  I twirl my hair ALL THE TIME!
3.  I played the flute and piccolo in high school and college.  
4.  I am borderline obsessed with making burlap wreaths right now.
5.  I enjoy organizing everything.  I would consider it a hobby (sad, I know...)
6.  I have a weakness for Baskin-Robbins and it was also my first job.
7.  I just recently earned my Masters in Multidisciplinary Science from Texas Tech University.
8.  I have many teachers, or people who were involved in education in some way, in my family.  
9.  I coached girls athletics for 6 years.  
10.  I love teaching middle school.
11.  I hate to sweat, hence the avoidance of working out.

Questions for Me from Tales From a Very Busy Teacher
1.     What is your favorite thing to teach?  Chemistry
2.     Do you have any pets? If so, describe them!  I have a cat named Bailey that I got 11 years ago from Katie over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher
3.     How long have you been teaching? 12 years
4.     Coke or Pepsi? Coke (but can I add a splash of Crown?)
5.     What was the last vacation you were able to enjoy?  Jamaica, mon!
6.     What changes would you like to see in education?  The needless paperwork is getting out of hand.
7.     If you had an endless amount of time and money, what would you do in your classroom?  Tear out all of the old lab tables and install new ones, add some sort of built in storage and get rid of the rats.
8.     What other grades/subjects would you like to teach in your career?  I've thought about high school science...  :)
9.     What is your favorite genre of reading?  I love reading stories about the Holocaust and pretty much any fiction.  
10.  What kind of music do you like to listen to?  Everything...from K-LOVE to Rap/R&B.  Right now, I really like Mumford and Sons 
11. Biggest pet peeve:  people who drive/walk slow

Questions for me from The Babbling Box:
1.  How long have you been blogging?  A little over a year
2.  Why did you start blogging?  I originally wanted a way to communicate with my students and their parents, so I created a classroom blog, but then I added this one later.
3.  If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing?  hmmmm...I have no idea.
4.  How long have you been teaching?  12 years
5.  Pepsi or Coke?  Can I have a Dr. Pepper instead?
6.  What is your favorite recipe or thing to cook?  Land-O-Lakes Best Ever Butter Cookies
7.  What is your dream vacation?  Fiji, but I've always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands
8.  What are your favorite TV shows?  All reality shows (all of the Real Housewives, Top Chef, Duck Dynasty)
9.  What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Driving around looking at Christmas lights in my jammies with the Christmas music cranked up in the car
10.  If you could have one superpower, what would it be?  to be invisible
11.  What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?  embarrass myself on a daily basis, so it's hard to say.  I have to keep the kids attention somehow, right?!?!?

My nominated blogs:
4.  4mula Fun

Questions for my nominated blogs:
1.  How long have you been teaching?
2.  What is your most disgusting habit?
3.  How much time do you spend in one week blogging or looking at other people's blogs?
4.  What is your proudest accomplishment?
5.  Favorite beverage?
6.  Teaching tool you couldn't live without?
7.  What is your favorite snack?
8.  If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be?
9.  What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
10.  Why do you blog?
11.  Do your students or friends have a nickname for you?  What is it?

Thank you again for the nominations! :) I love to have new followers! :) 

What Are You Thankful For?

As I get older, the list of things I want is shrinking, but the value of those things increases exponentially.  I have a lot of "things"...some simply taking up space, some that are great to have, and others serving a great purpose in my life.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season, I'd thought I'd share a list of some of my favorite things.  I'd love for others to copy the image above and share the "things" they are thankful for.
What makes your life a little easier, a little more fun, a little more efficient, a little more organized?

1.  my HP OfficeJet Pro 8600
2.  Foldables
3.  my Teacher Planner
4.  Digital Scrapbooking stuff
5.  my Cricut Expressions
6.  Paint pens
7.  PaperMate Flair felt tip pens
8.  the Elf on the Shelf
9.  Remind101 app on my iphone and ipad for my classroom
10.  my Toshiba portable external USB hard drive
11.  Teachers Pay Teachers
12.  St. Ives Apricot scrub
13.  Gold Bond Aloe lotion
14.  my Nook
15.  my 31 Cindy Tote
16.  Buc-ee's Cinnamon Yogurt Pretzels
17.  Bath and Body Works Wallflowers in Fresh Balsam
18.  Keurig K-cup: Celestial Seasonings Perfect Iced Tea (Half and Half - Black Tea & Lemonade)
19.  Texas Viognier wine from Pedernales Cellars
20.  Bath and Body Works aromatherapy Sleep - lavender and chamomile
21.  Charming Charlie's
22.  Tabletop Spinning Cosmetic Organizer by Lori Greiner
23.  an organized pantry
24.  the BEST butter cookie recipe on the planet!
25.  Burberry perfume by Burberry
26.  Stella and Dot Jewelry Organizer
27.  X-acto Rotary Paper Cutter
28.  a supportive principal
29.  a hard-working, honest, loyal, super hot husband

I could seriously go on forever.  Obviously, I have a lot of things to be thankful for!

Inspired by the FLU

As I lie on my deathbed (okay, I'm being a little dramatic considering I'm finally up and sitting in front of my computer...but was BAD for 2 days), I had nothing to do but think...  And I should warn you that I had 107 degree temperature for half a day (and my mother swears that high of a temperature causes brain damage), so what I have to say may only make sense to the weak in mind, like myself, but here it goes...

I seem to have a knack for looking at things and finding a completely "new" purpose for them.  You should see me go to town at Dollar Tree!  I was thinking about ways to make formative assessments or the idea of an Exit Ticket more fun for my students.  Because I teach 8th grade, I have to constantly change how I do things to keep the students from getting bored.  (Well, some 8th graders have the look of boredom permanently stuck on their face, so they are beyond the point of helping, but for the ones that still have a chance....)

I thought about these little puppies.  Pocket Cubes from Carson Dellosa!  Click HERE to be taken directly to the site.
Instead of always giving students an Exit Ticket...why not change up the last 3-4 minutes of class by letting students roll the dice to determine which question they'll have to answer???  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  I envision this working in many different ways.  The best part about these cubes is you can change out what you have in each pocket on a daily basis if needed, so they can be used all year.  They are a bit on the pricey side, but after that initial investment, the rest is just ideas and printer paper.  

You could start off having students in small groups roll the dice.  Whatever question they roll, they have to present the answer to the entire class before leaving to go to the next class (this would not only encourage them to work together quickly, but to present the information to the rest of the class quickly.)  In this particular case, I would think that 5-6 minutes would be more appropriate, depending on how many groups were going to present.    

Or if you want students to answer a question on their own, they could quickly roll and then pass to the next person (if you don't have enough dice to go around).  You could also use the dice as dice (I know...deep thoughts by Mrs. Aldrich...).  What I mean by this is... post 6 different questions on the board and have students roll the dice to see which question they have to answer.  

What other ways do you think these could be used?  Please share!

Formative Assessment Ideas

Currently November

Somehow I missed a month or two, but I'm back in the saddle again!  Boy, if that comment doesn't scream "I'm from Texas!", I don't know what does!?!?!

Join in the Movement: Forces in Motion (and a little extra at the end!)

And for a little inspiration, I'd like to start with the always entertaining and motivational.... OPRAH WINFREY!!  (And no, I'm not giving away any cars or boat-loads of my favorite things - sorry to disappoint.)

I've been busily creating new things for my Force and Motion Unit.  I've got Flippables, Word Walls, quick checks for understanding and more!

Here's a sneak peek at some of my NEW Force and Motion Flippables for an Interactive Science Notebook:

Check out my NEW Force and Motion for Interactive Science Notebooks HERE.  All 12 pages can be purchased for only $6.25.

Quick Check for Understanding: Speed, Velocity and Acceleration.

Force and Motion Word Wall Terms

Calculating and Graphing Speed Quick Assessment

I've also completed my Newton's Laws word wall terms.  In addition to the word wall terms/pictures, I always include a Spanish word strip for those who choose to post the vocabulary terms for English Language Learners.

I've also got a few Interactive Science Notebook Tips and Tricks to Share.  It's only November and our Interactive Science Notebooks are starting to bulge a bit.  I've got a simple little trick a friend shared with me to help tame those wild things!  Punch a hole in the bottom of the back cover of the notebook.  Use a 7 1/2"-ish long rubber band to put through the hole (I found these on the office supply aisle at Wal-Mart).  If you need an image of how to do this, I think the last image below should clarify any confusion.  Then, simply close the notebook and wrap the rubber band around the entire notebook as shown below.

Another tip/trick I wanted to share are called Flip-Outs (see pics below).  I teach science, so we are constantly needing to reference the Periodic Table of Elements and a List of Common Equations and Formulas.  If you teach another subject you could easily replace this with something your students would need to reference frequently.  Simply glue the Flip-Out inside the back cover of the notebook so that when the notebook is closed, the entire reference chart is visible (hanging out the right side or hanging out the top of the notebook).  This way, no matter where you happen to be working in the Interactive Notebook, this entire reference chart is visible!  My kids love it and I love never having to deal with the excuse of " I lost my periodic table" or "I left mine at home/in my locker/in my mom's car..."   

(please excuse the hideous cover...I am so embarrassed.  My students decorated their covers so beautifully, but I never got around to doing mine - bigger fish to fry, I guess!)   

You'll also notice that we glued a 5"x7" envelope in the back cover (on top of the blank part of the Flip-Outs).  This pocket can be used throughout the year to hold items that aren't quite ready to be glued in or small pieces that haven't been glued in yet (that would otherwise get lost).

In addition, whenever we make flashcards of any type, we glue in a small letter-size envelope and store the flashcards on a particular page for safe keeping.  I don't like gluing the flashcards down because it takes away the ability to use them as a method of study/review.

I'd love to hear what tips and tricks you have to share for Interactive Notebooks.  Please share!