Thursday, February 27, 2014

Time to Pass It On! Ratio, Proportions, and "Playing" with Dolls {STEM}

One of the things I love most about my district is the amount of consistent and in-depth professional development classes they offer us.  I try to sign up for classes often so I can hone my craft and really figure out ways to better my students' learning in the well as keep myself on my toes. There is just no way I want to be one of those teachers who gets in a rut and that can be easy to do after 9 years of teaching.

Does anyone else have these kind of opportunities in their district?  How often do you take advantage of them?  Do tell!!

This past month, I signed up for a STEM professional development class that our STEM department put together alongside a grant via Arizona State University.  These awesome gals from the department (I've worked closely with several of them multiple times) attended a summer class in which they learned about the lesson I am passing on to you here.  They brought it back to our district and were even able to buy us supplies to take back to our classroom the next day.

Thankfully, I also got one of my first trainings in what STEM truly is.  THE biggest piece I walked away with (besides the super sweet lesson below) was the knowledge of knowing I do not have to use Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in every single STEM lesson.  Phew!  Somehow, this is what I thought it was.  Remember how I said I try to hone my craft and keep on the latest and greatest? Since STEM came along long after I finished up my Bachelors, student teaching, and Masters degree, it is one of those huge elements of present-day education that I just don't know a whole lot about. But...I'm getting there!

Enough of the background...let me share this lesson already!  This was based on the Ratio and Proportion CCSS and it can be used in grades 5-8.  It also ties in measurement and data analysis. Score!!

The idea is to have students use measurement, ratios, proportion, and data analysis to see if they are in proportion to a Barbie or Ken doll.

I was nervous my 5th graders weren't going to feel comfortable enough with ratio.  Despite teaching it and finding the majority of my students meeting our state standard (we have not fully switched to CCSS yet), I still did not know if they'd be able to figure out whether their measurements were proportional to the doll's proportions using ratios.

But I modeled my heart out for the first piece of it in order to make sure they knew what I expected and we reviewed equivalent ratios as well.  They were seriously chomping at the bit to get started.

They worked in small groups since I only had about 8 Ken dolls and 8 Barbie dolls.  By the way...have you seen Barbie dolls lately?  If not, they are soooooooo cheap looking now.  Blasphemy!!  It was rough only having about 4 rolls of measuring tape.  So, many of my students improvised and used the yarn they used for the dolls on themselves and then had to carefully use a meter stick.  Part of this was also giving them calculators if they chose to use them.  The idea is, it doesn't matter if they are doing the computation on paper, it mattered to me if they were understanding comparing one measurement to another and if they were finding equivalent ratios to compare proportions.

I was given copies of a graphic organizer that asked students to record different ratios for things like head circumference to height and head height to neck height, etc.  Each student had to measure on both the doll and themselves.

Once they found an equivalent ratio for both, they had to indicate if they were in proportion to the doll or not in the last column.

As I was coming around to each group, I noticed some were having issues finding equivalent ratios with such large or mixed numbers.  But I did find they fully understood ratios and how they relate to finding proportions.  This was a HUGE success!  I love that with STEM students don't necessarily have to do everything correct or perfectly.  If they are grasping on to the concept and reaching it via discovery...then you know what?  I determine that to be successful in a big way.  

Once students have gathered the data, they create a graph from scratch.  I had quite the goose-bump raising moment when my students took to creating double-bar graphs without any prompting from me at all.  When I asked several groups why they chose to make a double-bar graph versus any other, they told me right away that it was because they were comparing two sets of similar data!  Yessssss!  What an amazing teacher moment.  Don't you just love those?!  

While I noticed they chose increments that didn't necessarily match the data, what I found was they knew exactly how to compare the data.  My kids also had all the pieces of a properly made graph. After creating their graphs, they had to look back at their data and analyze the bits and pieces to explain whether they were in proportion to the doll and why or why not.  This was another spot where I found they had a good understanding of proportions.  

All in all, this was a successful lesson in my class for multiple reasons.  Not only that, but my students enjoyed themselves and didn't complain at all about how difficult the math concepts were for them. They put both feet in and jumped right in to the measuring and comparing.  I'd say they are definite fans of STEM as am I!  

Have you used a lesson like this in your classroom before?  How do you implement STEM in your classroom?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gettin' My Fix with Stitch Fix {#4} - In Need Of Your Opinion...

It's that time again!  And...what a nice treat!  I went out of town for a quick trip and when I came back, my Stitch Fix box was waiting for me.  It was like going to the mall without having to drive all that way after a long drive home.  I chose to have Brent as my stylist again...which is something you can choose to do if you really like what your stylist is sending to you.  He chose my 2nd and 3rd fixes.  

So, just in case you just found your way over to my little blog, here are my first 3 fixes for your viewing pleasure.

In case you've never heard of Stitch FIx, go ahead and check out these quick tidbits...
  • Sign up using this referral code and get yourself on the calendar.
  • Take a styling quiz so your stylist can see what you like, dislike, your body type, sizing, etc.
  • $20 styling fee (you don't pay it till your fix is put together) gets you a personalized box of 5 hand-picked items from tops to bottoms to necklaces to everything else you could imagine
  • Sign up for a monthly fix or whenever you'd like as often as you'd like, it isn't a subscription service...which is a PLUS!
  • Keep all 5 items and get 25% off your total and also get your $20 taken off the price
  • You have 3 days to try everything on and send it back in a pre-paid envelope
  • If you don't keep anything, your $20 is well...wasted. But there are ways to ensure your fix is right for you. (see first review or the pro-tips I give each time)
  • Feel pampered and like a bit of a celebrity as you try on items picked just for you!

First Look

I absolutely loved how they tied up my little bundle of 5 items with the belt from a dress that came in my fix.  It was a nice little touch.  And, thankfully I saw those bits of color and character that I dug in my first 2 fixes.  In fact, Brent apologized for my last fix (he told me how everything had been picked over by stylists at the beginning of the month from the holidays)...I like how he is getting to know my style and flair each and every time.  This of course brings me to my next point:

{Stitch Fix Pro Tip #3}

Back to Pinterest again...make sure you let your stylist know that you are keeping your board updated.  I had added some items since my first fix and I don't think my stylist knew.  So, I mentioned in my comments that he should take a look.  He saw a pattern in things I had posted and sent an item or two according to what he noticed.

Look #1

THML Tiller Sailboat Sweater | $68

Okay, so I wasn't exactly a fan of this sweater.  But Brent really did try to match up with what he knew about my wants!

My stylist mentioned he had seen I was obsessed with logo sweaters, via Pinterest, so he picked this new to the Stitch Fix collection sweater.

Can you tell by my first picture...I don't exactly dig the sailboat.  The sweater itself is a nice lightweight casual top and I totally would have kept it, had it not been for the sailboat.  It's just not me.  Dare I say it reminds me a bit too much of my midwest friends that I pick on a tiny bit for wearing their boat shoes and boat jackets while they are living in the desert now.  It's all in good fun, believe me...but this just doesn't fit my personality.  At first, I figured I would keep it since the other 4 items looked to be keepers for me.  More on that below.

Status:  Sent Back

Look #2

C.Luce Ashton Bejeweled Neckline Short Sleeve Top | $48

I really need to teach my hubby (as sweet as he is for taking these pictures for me) how to take focused pictures.  Please pardon the blurriness you see in some of them.

When I saw this top at the top of my stack, it reminded me a lot of the similar top I got in my first fix HERE.  I had high hopes this one would fit me much better.  And it did!  

The length was perfect, it has darts at the chest, and I like the cut of the collar much much more.  It also has a texture to the material itself.  You can't really see that here, but if you look at my first impression picture you can spot it.  This is the type of top I wouldn't have tried on in a store because it looks boxy. Thank you to Stitch Fix for getting me to try on something different!  Following the styling cards included in my box, I tried it with my red heels and a black pair of skinnies (from my 2nd fix) and then a dark pair of blue skinnies and black flats.  I only wish it was in a lighter color or something brighter.  I'm thinking that is something I am going to indicate in my comments this time around...especially since spring is around the corner.

Status:  Kept

Look #3

Papermoon Jerrod Textured Striped Pencil Skirt | $48

In case you hadn't guessed...the pencil skirt was Look #3!  And, I need your help, so definitely keep reading.

You can't completely tell in these close-up pictures, but the skirt has these velvety black stripes and the color is a sort of gray/brown.  And this is where I seriously need my reader's help.  I loooooooove love love pencil skirts.  I have a "leather" one and a regular every day black version for work.  But both of them are cut to right above my knee.  This one is very much out of my realm.  When I first put it on, the length threw me off.  It is very tight as well, so my pear shaped hips definitely were making an out-there appearance.  Yet, when I styled it with these two tops you see above and looked back at the pictures my hubby took, I got stuck.  So, also...I'm wondering, if I don't or can't wear this to work, will I even wear it enough in general?  Leave your opinion in the comments and let me know.

Let me explain, the stripes definitely are tricky for my hips as well as the very tight fit.  But the material is slinky and so it rides up and has a very high waist.  So, it does create a sort of pooch on me when I don't really have one.  My hubby is telling me not to keep it because of that and I do agree with him. Yet, it looks so good in these pictures and I will just have to make sure I am pulling it down...but do I really want to keep pulling it down?  Do I just wait and see if Brent can find me something else like it? Gah!  I don't know!  I tried to style it dressed up and then also more casual using the styling cards.  And, it does work well both ways.  Also?  I tried to turn sideways for a shot so you could see the "pooch" being created...but I seem to have covered it with my hands on accident.  What are your thoughts?

Status:  Up in the Air

Look #4

Daniel Rainn Shanae Abstract Print Tie Waist Dress | $58

Please ignore my fluorescent and banged up legs!  You're lucky I shaved and put on lotion.  LOL

Brent mentioned he included this dress because of how much I loved the shirt dress (sent back) from my 2nd fix.  I am very glad he did because this one is a better fit.  But, it took some tweaking on my part and I truly hope all ladies, who aren't as comfortable with styling or fashion, try these little tweaks. You see, it's not your body, it's the clothes.  Don't change your body to fit the clothes, change the clothes themselves.  I heard that from Stacy London and Clinton so many times on What Not to Wear.  Anyway, the belt on this was to go in two loops on the dress but then it would have tied right below my chest.  It was NOT flattering and I know things are a lot more flattering when I use my natural waistline.  I took it out of the loops and scooted it down and voila!  My hubby is pretty impressed to see this dress has pockets as am I. The sleeves are also adjustable or convertible if you will.  Also?  How much do you love my new black heels I got the other day while I was out of town.  They are Naturalizers from Dillards...and I got them for only $50!!

Status:  Kept

Look #5

Fun2Fun Montreal Arrow Printed Henley Blouse | $48

This was the the let down piece of this box.  I think it was the pattern.  My hubby told me it looked bohemian when I put it on and I didn't believe him until I looked in the mirror.  The pattern is too busy for my frame and I think the neckline might be throwing me off as well.  I had actually requested to get this top sent to me (but a plaid version instead) so I was sad to see the style didn't suit me.  Thanks anyway Brent!!

Status:  Sent Back

All in all, I think this was my favorite fix overall.  Sure, I only kept 2...possibly 3, depending on what others think of the skirt...but I love that Brent used my Pinterest board and picked items from very different brands I've received in the past.  Plus, the variety in styles outside of my normal comforts was good.  The prices are also on point!  

Are you read to try out Stitch Fix?  You can click on my referral link here and I do get a $25 credit, which is one of the reasons I can keep up with getting basically?  I'll love you forever!   But I also really enjoy seeing and hearing from those of you who do click on my referral link so I can see and hear all about your experience.  It's like going to the mall with friends and having a great time in the fitting room.  And please...enjoy it!

For March, I plan to request some bright colors and short sleeve or sleeveless tops.  I'm hoping for some peplum and dressier to dressy casual tanks as well.  I can't wait!...since all my fixes have been during the "colder" months.  

What do you think of the pencil skirt? Have you received a fix from Stitch Fix?  What kind of items have you received?  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Wish List O' Polishes {Spring 2014}

If you saw my recent post on how I organized my nail polish HERE, then you already know I am slightly obsessed.  I'm not a YouTuber or a nail blogger, so my collection is pretty large for someone who just likes to paint her own nails.  But what can I say?  I love color and I like feeling girly...put those two together, and you get a slightly out of control amount of nail polish.

What makes it worse?...when nail polish brands come out with new collections every season.  And when I say brands, I mean salon and drugstore brands.  Oh and then there are places like Sephora too. So, what I am trying to get at is, spring is upon us and that means all sorts of awesome colorful collections are coming out or releasing soon.

I've already grabbed several polishes I love from OPI's Gwen Stefani collection and just bought two from OPI's Brazil collection!  Zoya was having their special 3 sale a month or so ago and when I bought 2 polishes from their new Neutrals line, they gave me a coupon code to buy some from their upcoming spring Awaken (I even got one in my Ipsy bag this month) and Magical Pixie line.  Don't judge!...especially since I got the two Brazil polishes with a birthday gift card and used coupon codes.

Zoya Monet top coat and Zoya Brooklyn from the Awaken Collection
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Zoya Cosmo from Magical Pixie Collection and Zoya Dot from Awaken Collection
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Zoya Brigitte and Zoya Rue from the Naturals Collection
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OPI's Where Did Suzi's Man-Go and OPI's Don't Bossa Nova Me Around
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And of course, while looking at and trying to figure out if I wanted any of the Brazil collection polishes, I discovered some other lines coming out in March.  Darn you Internet!!

I am not a fan of China Glaze polishes because for some reason, they do not last on my nails for more than 1-2 days.  But I don't know if I can pass up these new polishes that remind me of Nail Inc.'s Sprinkles polishes from a couple years ago.  Frankly, I'm eyeballing only two of them...I'm a Go Glitter and Create a Spark.  Do you like any of them?

Now on the other hand...I'm a HUGE fan of OPI.  And glitter.  Since OPI does glitter polishes so darn well, this new collection of theirs called Spotlight on Glitter, coming out in March, looks as if it could be a problem. Good thing! Bad thing?

Totally digging the Rose of Light shade seeing as how I am a major fan of rose gold.  Plus?  It has a rainbow sparkle to it to boot!  The others looks similar to those I already have or don't need.  But I am definitely after Rose of Light.  Do you see any that stand out to you?

Sadly, none of the polishes from Essie's Resort Collection tickle my fancy...then again, this is most likely a good thing.  

Are there any collections that you are after?  


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time to Pass It On! Author's Purpose is as Easy as Pie!

I'm back!  It's been a hot or perhaps cold minute since I last shared something that went on in my classroom.  I was gone for 2 days to attend the AAGT (Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented) local conference last week...more to come on that in a future blog post... we had our last field trip of the year a couple days before that, and we just finished up spring (why don't they call them winter?) conferences and two-half days.  Needless to say, it has been all about catching up or in my case, not catching up!  Our 3rd quarter benchmark testing is coming up in 2 weeks.  Two weeks?!  Where did the time go?

Author's Purpose is one of those skills that most students catch on to fairly quickly, but only when you lay down the foundation to help them locate those key words and main idea.  When I taught 4th grade, I remember buying the PIE poster from Really Good Stuff...don't lie, you probably did too and perhaps even still have it.  See?!  Since then, I have sort of evolved in my teachings of Author's Purpose and once I started teaching 5th grade 6 years ago I had to add on nonfiction purposes.  I smartened up and stopped buying posters and making them instead.  But pie still carries on in my classroom!  Here's hoping these two tried and true products I found on Teachers Pay Teachers will help other teachers out there...enjoy!

Our goal was, "I can understand why an author wrote a passage by identifying the author's main purpose." We do discuss our goal at the beginning of each lesson, highlight the key parts, and students check their level of (pre)understanding...and we recheck it at the end of the lesson.

So, what I was trying to say earlier is I didn't have to focus too much on main idea when starting on Author's Purpose with my kids this past week and I was able to jump right into modeling some evidence finding through think-alouds.  From there it was all about giving my class opportunities to practice reading text and identifying those 5 different purposes.

We started with our vocabulary and introduction to the 5 purposes using our anchor chart and partner discussions.  My kids copied down the chart in their notebooks as we went along.  Whenever I teach vocabulary in a lesson like this, we use a whole lot of discussing in between me throwing phrases and words at them so they don't get ultra bored.

Last year, I started using one of my favorite craftivities on Teachers Pay Teachers...because my students react so well to it.  They love doing a quick color and cut to get away from the monotony of learning vocabulary and front-loading.  This is one of Deb Hanson's awesome products and you can find it HERE.

I sort of redid my thinking on how to use this product this school year.  Last year, if I recall, I modeled using one or maybe two of the short passages and the kids practiced the rest with a partner.  But, I wanted to really make sure my kids had a grasp on how to find and use evidence directly from the text (something my kids keep having issues with).  So, I instead used think-alouds for each passage.  My students highlighted as I did so on our ActivBoard.  Once I gave them the evidence, they chatted with each other to figure out which genre (fiction or nonfiction) the passage fell under.  When they have that BIG piece of information, it is much easier to narrow down the purposes.  Then, I had them turn to their shoulder partners to discuss how the evidence I highlighted pointed to TWO author's purposes. Together, we figured out which of the two was the main purpose through a nice little thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote.  

The key to this skill in our classroom was giving my students the chance to read passage after passage to practice identifying the author's main purpose.  But no one and I mean NO ONE wants to just do something that dry over and over again.  Thankfully, a teammate found the perfect FREE product on Teachers Pay Teachers for us to use.  It comes with 22 passages and is meant to be more of a test prep activity with multiple choice answers for each one. Find this free product from Mr. Stadalman HERE. The idea is, cut up each passage and place them around the room on students' desks so they can move around to read and answer each question.  

I loved seeing some of my students carrying their PIE'ED craftivity around with them in order to check their understanding.  See?!  This product is one of my favorites!  

During the hour or so my students were working on the passages, the room was so insanely quiet (which is practically unheard of in my room this year)!  I was in awe at how intensely focused all of my students were.  And when we came back together to go over a few of them?  They all were confident in their answers and provided concrete evidence perfectly.  It was one of those a-ha moments you crave for in your classroom.  Yeah!!  

So, in summary...get over to Teachers Pay Teachers and buy or download both of these products!  HERE and HERE