Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wisdom: How to Survive the last week before Christmas!

We are almost there...1 1/2 days left.  And boy, what a week this has been!  After facing the thoughts that run through your mind after the Sandy Hook tragedy, we have had our own scares and threats to deal with.  Thankfully, the week is almost over now and we can have time to regroup before January.

We have had some fun the past couple of weeks preparing for Christmas at our school.  Our school has grades 3-5 with 10 teachers in each grade.  Our principal was generous enough to purchase 6 live trees  for the kids to decorate with natural or recycled materials.  Of course, this may or may not have generated some competition from the teachers on who could get the most "pinteresting" ornaments!  We think our hub graciously gave in to others definitely won!  Here are our creations:

Other creations for our tree included reindeer, mini Christmas trees, Lady Gaga, and other creatures made from pinecones.  Another genius teacher painted pine cones to look like old-timey Christmas lights, then strung them for our garland.  Again...this is a non-biased opinion!

We did manage to squeeze in a few educational things:  

Math: We have solved Christmas word problems, solved shopping problems and worried about running out of money, and made graphs from Cap'n Crunch Christmas cereal.  

Here are the links to 2 of these items...(don't you just LOVE TPT?!?!?!)

In Language Arts, We have been reviewing parts of speech by doing Mad Libs.  If you do a google search for free mad lib worksheets, tons will come up.

We also finished up our adjectives lesson with "Grinch" adjectives.  We cut out a green and a red grinch using a free template.  On the green Grinch, we wrote adjectives to describe his evilness (using a thesaurus to help those who struggle), and on the red Grinch, we wrote adjectives to help warm the Grinch's (everyone's ;) ) heart.  The kids really thought of some good characteristics....which can be used to our advantage muahaahahah.

These activities have really gotten us in the Christmas mood and have entertained the least a little!  What have you done to survive your last week before break?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wisdom: Christmas/Holiday Gifts

Today's post is two-fold...we are letting you know our idea for Christmas gifts, but then we really need want some better ideas that we can steal.

Last year, we were on top of things.  We ordered cute ornaments in October.  Then we used the Cricut to cut out vinyl initials to personalize them.  We made a little bundle with a pencil and candy cane with the ornament.  We got the ooh's and aah's from parents and kids at the party and it was a happy world!

Now this year is another story!  We had great ideas and plans basically procrastinated too long.  Now we are down to 8 school days with no gifts!!!  Whitney is not much help because her brain is not functioning right...not that there is any stress or anything associated with our job!

This class loves junk!  By that I mean, little stuff...rings, erasers, party favors, etc.  Should we go the easy way and go to the dollar store and make "goodie bags"? 

Post your thoughts or ideas!  We need major help!  We are about Pinterested out with the holiday thing!

By the can't be too Christmasy since we have a few students that do not celebrate the holiday (but are ok with "Winter" items). 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wisdom

Well it is that time again!  Time for the Weekly Wisdom from your Teamed Up Teachers!  This week we are talking about everyone's favorite topic....Classroom Behavior Management and the Rewards (or Consequences) that go with it.

Since our students swap classes, we knew that we had to have a system that could "travel."  So, we first looked at portable devices that traveled with the class.  The information had to be clear and detailed to support our consequences when it came time for those dreaded parent conferences.  Yet, it also had to be quick to look at since we have SO MUCH free time when we change classes.  

So, we chose to use a clipboard with a check list for students.  Each student is listed down one side of a chart with the days of the week across the top.  When a student does not conform to our wants (or needs), then they receive a check.  This is our system for tracking checks:

1- Loss of half recess 
2- Loss of whole recess
3 - Loss of recess plus Fun Friday
4 - Loss of recess for the week and parent contact
5 - office referral

Now this system has not always worked.  We have tweaked and worried and lost sleep over these consequences.  We have started with 1 as a warning.  We have made them lose more/less recess.  But...this is what is currently working with this group of kids.

Disclaimer: Fun Friday is a time on Friday (duh!) after all tests and assignments for the week are complete, then you may have free time in the classroom.  We are lucky enough to each have a cart of iPods that the students may use (we do also use them for educational use...but that will be another post!) or we have games, puzzles, etc. that the students have access to.  

Now before all you "health fanatics" start blowing up our page with comments about taking away a child's recess away, they still have physical activity.  Just not free play at recess.  We are lucky enough to have a paved sidewalk around two of the areas on our playground.  These sidewalks make perfect pathways for students to walk around during their lost recess.  

Now on to the better side... REWARDS!!!

The students in our class earn stamps for good behaviors.  We both have a monogrammed stamp (so those sneaky kids can't copy it unless they want to pay the $14.95 for a stamp as well!).  Each day that they do not have any checks, they earn one stamp.  They also earn stamps for various other good things they did (returning signed papers, being polite to others, 100's on major get the point).  On Fridays, they are able to spend these stamps in our STAMP STORE.  We have everything from 2 stamps is a piece of candy to 5-10 stamps for bigger prizes (but not too big since we are not made of money and we usually end up having to pay for these prizes!).  

Stamps can also be spent through the week in emergencies for pencils or other necessities.  

So, what do you do in your classroom for behavior?  What kind of rewards do you use?  Have you found some good rewards that don't break the bank?  

Leave us some love and comments please!

Whitney and Brenda

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Currently

Brenda has been stalking following Farley over at Oh Boy! 4th Grade for some time now.  Each month she has a "Currently" linky parties.  So...we are joining our first linky party ever!!! YEA!!!

Since there are 2 of are in for twice as much fun!  

Brenda's Currently:

Whitney's Currently:

Hopefully we did this right and you can see our linky party participation! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wisdom: The Great Compromise

On Wednesdays, we are planning to present to our readers a little wisdom from the Teamed Up Teachers!

(insert applause!)

Today's wisdom is on our scheduling since you all need to get to know us!

We currently have about 18-20 students in each homeroom.  This hasn't always been the case, but it has worked with any number of students.  We do have to admit that it has been SOOOOOO much nicer with just a few kids (compared to 24-25 the past few years!).  

When we first started scheduling, we had many factors to include: 20 minute recess, 25 minute lunch, 60 minute Discovery (art, music, PE, Wellness, Computer, kitchen sink, bologna, cheese...oops wrong get the point!), 30 minute Classworks (computer program that is SUPPOSED to help us!), etc.  So it was very overwhelming for both of us to get our way.  

So we learned the first step to successful TEAMED UP TEACHING......drum roll please!!!!!!


We both wanted our subject taught in the morning before the kiddos fell asleep after that delicious and nutritious school lunch!  We also wanted equal teaching time with every student.  SO.....

We came to the conclusion that we would have each homeroom split the mornings with us.  Every student would have Reading and Math before lunch since these are the two focus areas for our school.  This not only gives us equal time with them, but it keeps the students alert and on their toes with the switch mid-morning.  

Don't get us wrong...we didn't want to switch back and forth all day.  So, we keep one homeroom all afternoon on odd days.  We call our schedule the "GAGA Schedule" because when we write it down in shorthand, our names make GAGA!


Monday/Wednesday Schedule:
 8:00-10:00 Gibson homeroom Math
                   Ayers homeroom Reading
10:00-12:00 Gibson homeroom Reading
                     Ayers homeroom Math
12:00-2:00   Gibson Writing/Language
                     Ayers   Science/Social Studies

The Tuesday/Thursday Schedule is the exact opposite homeroom...I guess that is the AGAG schedule!  

Fridays are split depending on testing.

We know that this is not the number one solution!  Just another option.  

How do you schedule your classes?  Any thoughts on ours?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


We are two teachers that work together teaching 4th grade!

Meet the team!!!

Whitney: This is my blogging debut, so I am a little nervous.  I am in my 3rd year of teaching, and my second year departmentalized. I absolutely, positively (sometimes) love my job.  Don't get me wrong, there are some c-uh-razy days, but I could not imagine myself anywhere else.  When they told me I would be partnered up to be departmentalized, I was nervous about how it would work, but it has turned out to be great.  Brenda and I have been able to do some great things as a team, and I hope you are able to use some of ideas to help you with any of your own situations.  You will find out that I am the crazy, nervous-wreck one (seriously, I have used the word nervous 3, make that 4 times now). However, I am here to pass on anything I think that can be helpful, and give you a laugh or two in the process.

Brenda: I am in my 8th year of teaching, and my third year of departmentalized.  I taught Kindergarten for 2 weeks (now that's a long story for another time!) before being moved to 5th grade to teach Math and Spelling (odd combination, I know!) for one year.  I then taught 4th grade self-contained for 5 years.  Now Whitney and I teach 4th grade together.  I was also a little nervous to change gears for 4th grade, but it has worked out great!  I am generally the more laid back, crafty, Pinterest-following teacher! 

We are hoping to share the ups and downs (more ups hopefully!) of team teaching.  Whitney teaches Reading, Language, and Writing.  Brenda teaches Math, Science, and Social Studies.  So, we will also be able to provide our ideas and strategies that go along with our curriculum.  

We will be sharing useful ideas, funny stories, recipes (we both like to cook and eat!), and are here to share and receive advice and tips that we learn through our journey as TEAMED UP TEACHERS!

Whitney and Brenda