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!