Sunday, November 9, 2014

Google Classroom

It's report card time, and I'm knee-deep in essays but I had to stop and tell you all about the wonder that is Google Classroom. My school district is a Google district, which means all our students grades K-12 have a google account. I've talked in the past about how my students having access to all of Google's apps has totally changed my teaching.

This summer, Google introduced Classroom and it's fantastic! As a teacher all you need to do is set up a classroom for your kids to join. As a 5th grade teacher, I teach all the different subject areas. What I decided to do is set up a separate classroom for each of the subject areas.

Within the classroom, you can add assignments. The best part is that if I create a document in my Google Drive, I can attach it right to an assignment, and I can choose to "Make a copy for each student". Each of my kids will get the exact copy of the assignment, and Google automatically changes the name of the document to include the name of the student.

You can assign the due date, and it automatically shows you who of your students have turned it in. Once you're ready to grade, you can grade them all in one place, and send the grades to your students.

But my absolutely favorite function, I've used a few times this year when my students are submitting essays... Once your student submits their assignment to be graded, the document is automatically put into "View" mode for them, while you have access to grading it. That means your student can submit it and then make changes later while you are trying to grade. This is a huge function for middle and high school teachers.

Give it a try if you haven't already! And if you had, what's your favorite function of Google Classroom?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Currently October

Another month, another CURRENTLY, hosted by Farley.

Listening- to The First 48. I really do love crime shows. I think if I hadn't become a teacher I would have wanted to do something with crime scene investigation. I loved the criminal justice class I took in college. So fascinating.

Loving- the weekend! This felt like a long week. So many things to get done, both in and out of school... I definitely need these two days to recharge.

Thinking- I'm starting up Reader's Workshop on Monday. We just finished reading the book Wonder, as well as the follow up extra The Julian Chapter... and we're ready to step into full on Reader's Workshop.

Wanting- it to feel like autumn! I love autumn, it's my favorite time of year. But we're having a heat wave, and it is not appreciated. 95 degrees today... boo! I'm ready for crisp breezes, cozy sweaters... 

Needing- a good night's sleep. I didn't sleep well last night and I'm fading fast tonight. Not a very fun Friday night, but it's needed.

Trick or Treat--- Treat! I've put up a sale at TPT store... my Chevron Bulletin Board Pack is 20% off this weekend. It's a hot item. Grab it at the discounted price!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

TPT Sale

In honor of my new blog design, I'm throwing a sale for my 12 top selling items on TPT. 10% off any of the following 12 items, from now until Wednesday, October 1st! I hope you'll stop by, and while you're there... Follow my Shop!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Blog Design Giveaway!

Can I tell you how in love I am with my new blog design? Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs, created this beautiful new blog layout just for me and it's wonderful! I love every single inch of it!


In honor of my gorgeous new blog, I'm hosting a giveaway!

$100 worth of gift cards to Amazon, Erin Condren, Apple, and Target. You have nine opportunities to enter the drawing. Share this post with a friend and help me get my blog out there!

The giveaway ends next week! So get in there quickly!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 14, 2014

EngageNY & flipped videos

I finally feel like I'm in the swing of the school year, as we're coming up on week number 4. My kiddos and I are settling into our routine, and math has been a huge adjustment for us all.

Since we're now officially using the CCSS in our district, we're expected to teach it, even though we don't have adopted textbooks for the new standards. The biggest area of concern was obviously math. The CCSS has completely different standards then we've been using, so we needed to figure out a way to teach these new standards without new textbooks.

Enter EngageNY. If you haven't had a chance to check out the EngageNY website, I highly recommend it. They have both Math and ELA resources for students and teachers.

My district gave teachers the option to try out EngageNY's math program as a supplemental program, in place of our state standard textbooks. And let me tell you, it's a whole new ballgame!

EngageNY is split into 6 "Modules" or chapters, with anywhere from 15-30 lessons, depending on the topic. The lessons are so comprehensive, and include so much information, the students (and teacher!) is learning in a new way. I've never found myself studying up on what I was teaching for math, so much! It's been an adjustment, but I can honestly say, my kids are getting it. It's taking them some time to get used to a new way of thinking and explaining mathematical concepts, but they've been such excited learners.

To help my students ease the transition to these new math concepts, I've been using the app Explain Everything to create videos.  I'd used Educreations in the past, and I do like the fact that's free, but can't even tell you how many times I was in the middle of recording the audio for my video and I would misspeak, or cough, or just plain mess up, and I'd have to rerecord my entire audio. Frustrating!

Thankfully a colleague introduced me to Explain Everything, and I haven't looked back. It's very similar to Educreations, but gives you more flexibility in how you create your videos, adding in pictures, the color scheme you want to use... and best of all... you can edit the audio, and simply erase that one part where you messed up! And it's only $2.99. Worth every penny if you ask me.

So I've been creating videos for the lessons, to help my students as they work on their homework, so that they can watch and re-watch as much as they want. And the feedback I'm getting from my students and their parents, is wonderful. I love being able to "flip" some lessons for them.

I'm not ready to completely flip my math program, but this is definitely the first step!

Do any of you flip any of your lessons? Have you tried any of the EngageNY lessons? What do you think?

Monday, September 1, 2014


I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade, for another one of her monthly "Currently" linky parties. How cute is this month's design?! I love the little campers at the bottom. I may not like camping in a tent, but campers are such a fun little trip!

Confession time... I never made it all the way through Breaking Bad. I know, everyone raves about how great of a show it is, and I had watched season 1... and then I just stopped. So I'm jumping back on the bandwagon and diving in. I'm rewatching season 1, since I don't remember a whole lot.

I'm a total comic book movie nerd. I've seen all of the Marvel movies and so today to celebrate Labor Day I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. It was really good! Funny and action packed all at the same time. A great way to spend 2 hours.

School. Does any teacher not constantly find themselves thinking about school? I'm starting a brand new math program tomorrow and in all honesty. I'm kind of nervous. It's so different than anything else I've ever done. And I hope the students enjoy it.

I'm greedy, I know... but I'm really enjoying this 3 day weekend... Can't we have 1 more?

My kitchen is pretty bare, and I really should go grocery shopping. But it's almost 100 degrees outside, and I really don't want to go. I'll make do with the basics I have.

3 Trips
My next big trip is Iceland. I'm hopefully heading there in November, and I can't wait to see the Northern Lights. The impending volcano is not helping my plans, however. I also would love to go to Australia, but I need to save up more. And lastly, if you know me at all you know I'd love to go to Scotland. Truly beautiful. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Classroom Reveal

After a couple weeks of hard work, sweat labor, and help from my fantastic family I'm finally ready to reveal my classroom. School starts on Monday and I'll have 33 kiddos at my door. I'm excited to meet them all and start off another great year. This is year number 10 for me! Crazy how fast time has flown.

So here it is... my classroom. I got a great deal on fadeless paper and bought a bunch of their color Orchid. It's a great lavender color, but sometimes when the light hits it, it does look kind of pink. Not ideal, but overall I'm happy with the affect. And I'm getting rave reviews from my colleagues. My principal already asked me to use the paper in our conference room which is currently beige and drab.

In addition to the lavender on the walls, I have black, white, and polka dot accents everywhere. My library cards feature b&w polka dots.

When the orchid paper was on the wall it was very overwhelming so I took black butcher paper and created large black square boards. I love the entire look!

My class jobs area. I have the students during the first week, "apply" for the jobs, but I change them every month. Hopefully each kid will get to do the majority of the jobs. They think it's funny when they are "unemployed."

Ignore the plethora of bags I was taking home to finish things up this weekend. While my classroom is done, my lesson plans are not!

My teacher desk area. I got the 5 shelf bookshelf over the summer and it fits perfectly into the spot between the cubbies and the wall. And my desk was that drab beige metal. I bought polka dot wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby (my favorite!) and my mom "wrapped" my desk. I should have taken a better picture of the front of my desk so you can see how she wrapped each drawer face as well. I love it!

 My front board area. I don't write on the white board that often since I have an elmo and projector, but I always make sure to have my schedule for the day posted, the date, our prep schedule, and table points.

Our "reading graffiti" wall. Last year I did this for the very first time and my kids loved it They would find absolutely awesome quotes from their books and add them to the wall. They loved writing on the wall.

My art supplies, games, puzzles, thesauruses and dictionaries are all organized and ready to go! Love these bins from the dollar section at Target. Great pop of color.

We're starting the year off by reading "Wonder" by RJ Palacio. I love that book and how it builds community in the classroom. Such a great way to kick off the year!

View from my front board.

Hanging from the ceiling are my table numbers and beautiful flowers I got from Schoolgirl Style's shop. They are so fun and an original way to display my table signs.

View from my desk

View from the back door

I hope you enjoyed seeing my brand new classroom!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why I Am... Organized

I'm slightly obsessed with organizing my classroom library. And I've tried a lot of different ways to accomplish that. When I taught second and third I had things sorted by level. But my bins were always chaotic and things were not kept in the same area twice. My kids were not good at figuring out where to put their books back when they were done.

Then when I moved to 5th... I tried sorting by genre. But again, the students were great at finding the wrong spots to put their books in. So three years ago I finally settled on alphabetical by author's last name. And I must say, my room's library has stayed relatively organized all year long, even with 33 ten year olds rummaging around in it.

Check out my library in my previous post!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Where I Am

Linking up with Blog Hoppin' for the second day of their Teacher Week. Today's theme... Where!

Now in a perfect world I would be revealing my classroom today... but... I'm not. It's not ready yet. I'm hoping it will be by Friday. Well, it has to be because students come to school on Monday! 

So, while I can't reveal the new classroom, I can show you what last year's theme looked like. 

Students turned in their work in labeled bins. I love wire bins! My library was divided by author's last name. Made it much easier for my 5th graders to put books back in the correct areas. By 5th grade, we're not as worried about book levels, but rather, students are beginning to really have favorite authors and genres.

My theme was black and white, with a few pops of blue and green. Those labels all came from Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files. Love them!

My papasan chairs. Man, do the kids love them. But they are so noisy! Any time the kids would move in their seats, it was very noticeable. They may be comfortable but they are annoying.

So that's last year's room... I promise the classroom reveal will be coming this week!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Who I Am

Hey everyone! I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' all this week for their Teacher Week. I officially go back on Thursday for a couple of days of staff development and meetings. On Wednesday I'm actually teaching a staff development class on technology, and I'm excited to share what I've done with other teachers in my district.

So all this week I'll be linking up with Blog Hoppin'. Today focuses on "Who I Am." So here it goes!

I come from a pretty small family. The entire group... aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents... there's only 17 of us. I only have 3 cousins. And because we are a small family, we're able to be spend a lot of time all together. Our Christmas get-togethers are pretty unique. Christmas usually takes all day to open presents... we open one present at a time, youngest to oldest until we've all opened everything. It's fun but for all my friends who are used to a more "rip and tear" approach, it's a little strange. We love it though. 
My mom and my grandma.


My two little furbabies... Darcy and Penny (aka Kitten). They are absolutely adorable and completely different personalities. Darcy is my little tabby, and she is a total diva sometimes. She decides when she wants you to pet her.

Penny, who doesn't respond to her name at all, but answers to "Kitten" is a little tuxedo cat. She doesn't meow, but rather, makes little squeaking noises. It's pretty funny. 

San Jose Sharks hockey, Outlander book (and now TV!) series, binge-watching shows on Netflix, superhero/comic book movies, reading blogs from awesome bloggers around the country, retail therapy, Alex & Ani bracelets, pinterest, Harry Potter, Rick Riordan mythology series, teaching 5th grade, TECHNOLOGY, my iPad, creating files for my TPT, fruit flavored candy (Skittles, Starburst), Mexican food, diet coke, black licorice, country music, summer concerts, ice cold margaritas....

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back from vacation...

I had a truly fantastic 2 week vacation. What a blessing to enjoy a beautiful cruise to Alaska. The wildlife was beyond amazing. I saw bald eagles, black bears, whales...  And this girl, who's afraid of heights and barely likes the 2nd story of the mall (childhood issues, clearly!) went on a zipline! The largest zipline in Icy Straight Point, Alaska. Our starting point was at 1300 feet. That's taller than the Empire State Building! And I did it. I was so proud of myself!  Check out their YouTube video, below. 

Check out my instagram (@missmelbert) for the photos from my trip. I got to go to a sled dog camp, went off-roading in dune buggies, went into the Yukon Territory in Jeeps... It was awesome!

And while I loved every minute of it, I couldn't help the little voice in my head that was counting down the days till school starting and getting my classroom put together.

My new set of kiddos will be at my door bright and early on Monday the 25th. I've been in my classroom with the help of my wonderful mom, dad, and brother... and a true transformation is under way. I wish I could say I was done and that I'd be revealing my classroom today but... I'm not. No where close. The students' desks are still in the middle as one giant mega-desk.

So my goal this final week of "summer" is to finish my classroom. And a big reveal will be coming. Sooner, rather than later!

How is everyone enjoying their last few days of summer? Or if you're already in school again, how have your first few weeks gone?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guided Math in Action: Chapter 7

Conceptual Understanding
  • Students have a conceptual understanding of what they are doing. 
  • Teachers use manipulatives, scaffolds, and tools. 
  • Students work together, with a partner, or alone to solve problems. 
  • New Common Core standards ask that students be able to explain and illustrate their understanding of concepts
Procedural Fluency
  • Understanding how to do mathematical procedures
  • Students use their conceptual understanding to compute flexibly using different methods.
  • Written procedures, mental math, use of calculators, computers, or manipulatives
Strategic Competence
  • Students being able to solve problems & represent their thinking
  • Students represent their thinking numerically, symbolically, verbally, or graphically
  • Students look for a "pathway" to find the solution
Adaptive Reasoning
  • Students can think logically about math
  • Students can explain and justify what they are doing
  • Teachers create a talk-friendly environment
  • Students need to know what they say is important & they will not be mocked or belittled
  • Students should be able to explain their thinking aloud to a group of people, make connections with their thoughts
Mathematical Disposition
  • Teachers should boost students' confidence by giving scaffolded "just-right" problems that they can solve successfully. 
  • Teachers foster flexibility by talking about more than one way to do something 
  • Encourage perseverance by allowing students time to "wrestle with the problem"
  • Students should always be given the chance to reflect about the math they are learning

I'm heading off for vacation on Friday, so unfortunately I won't be able to participate in the last few chapters of this book study. I've really enjoyed reading Dr. Nicki's book, and I will finish it on my own.

Thank you Sarah & Courtney for hosting this book study! It's definitely expanded my math horizons!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tech Tip Tuesday

Hello again! I'm back with another Tech Tip Tuesday! I'm hoping you found the last one informative. Please make sure you link up if you have your own tips, or comment and let me know if any of my tips end up being helpful to you. I'd love to know!

For today's Tech Tip Tuesday I'm introducing you to an awesome website, if you're unfamiliar with it. Kahoot! is an interactive quiz, discussion & survey site. All you need is a couple of minutes to create your Kahoot and devices for your students. They can use anything with a wireless connection to participate.

Creating your Kahoot is fast and simple. Choose from the 3 choices: quiz, discussion, or survey.

Give your Kahoot a name and then you're ready to put it together!

You can decide how many questions to ask, and how many possible answers are available for each. In the picture above, I created a survey for the 1st week of school to better get to know my students. You can have anywhere from 2-4 answers to choose from. You can also include a corresponding image. Since I created a survey, there is no correct answer, however if you are creating a quiz, you would also select the correct answer. Once your Kahoot is created, you are ready for your students to take it!

Kahoot works by allowing any student with a device to join your game by typing in the game's code. The players type in their name and they're in! 

The questions are only displayed on the front board as you project it. The students only see the answer choices to select on their devices. You can also choose how many seconds your students have to select their answer.

After each question, you'll see how many people selected each answer. Since this was a survey, you'll see it in bar graph form, as there is no right answer. When making a quiz, you will see how many students' selected the correct answer, and students get points for choosing the correct answer quickly. 

Kahoot is completely free and is guaranteed to make test prep & study guides more fun for your students!