Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Space Shuttle Experience Unit! FREE!!

As I mentioned in a previous post I am planning to attend the Space Shuttle Endeavour launch on April 19, 2011! I received my confirmation last week from NASA and Senator Mike Johanns (NE) that I was granted tickets on the NASA Causeway which is the closest viewing site for the general public! Of course I am beyond excited as this is a lifelong dream of mine!

There is a dilemma though, I will need to pull my kids (5th, 2nd, & Kindergarten) out of school for the experience. To make this experience even more educational I wanted my kids to do some research into the shuttle before the launch to broaden their experience. I also want them to keep a record of this once in a lifetime experience. I decided to create a unit that each of my kids could use to reach these goals. I created a version for 2-6th grade and a K-2nd grade version.

I figured there are probably other parents/teachers out there that could use these materials so I am sharing them for free at Teachers Pay Teachers. I hope that others can benefit from and enjoy the information that they learn while viewing the miraculous experience of a space shuttle launch!


The Space Shuttle Experiencee Unit for K-6

Monday, March 28, 2011

Should the Amount of Standardized Testing be Reduced?

Interesting article suggesting the reduction of standardized testing

I am not a fan of standardized testing. I feel that way too much importance is placed on the results and this damages students, teachers, and schools.

During my first year of teaching 4th grade I had a student, "Bob",  that was very smart and very talented. He was able to take a radio apart and totally redesign it. I would have discussions with him regarding a multitude of subjects that was so advanced for his age. On the other hand he was somewhat a class clown and had some behavior issues in his past because of it.  The school I taught at was 100% Title 1. Every child qualified for the free lunch program. Most of these students did not have a lot of opportunities outside of their neighborhood, Bob especially came from a rougher family.

After working a couple months with Bob I decided a lot of his behavior issues came about out of boredom. When Bob was being challenged his behavior was perfect. I nominated Bob for our district's gifted & talented program because I truly felt Bob would be an ideal candidate. I was promptly turned down solely on the basis of Bob's standardized test scores from past years. I had to beg and plead with the principal, counselor, and G&T teacher to please give Bob a chance. To please look beyond that one set of test scores. There was so much more to Bob than those tests if only someone would take notice! Finally by March of that year Bob was allowed in the G&T program on a probationary basis. Not surprising to me he did wonderfully. He shocked everyone else! Bob was being allowed to fall through the cracks because of standardized test scores. How many other students does this happen to every day across our country? How many teacher miss the signs and don't fight for those students? Talent can be shown in so many ways outside of a multiple choice bubble test!

As a parent I hate the standardized tests just as much. My oldest son is not an ideal test taker. His standardized scores do not even come close to reflecting the kind of student he is and does not show what his true ability is. I know these test scores are held in such an importance within the district and I absolutely hate the shadow that they have over my son and what he will be allowed to try.

I wholeheartedly agree with President Obama that when we use these standardized tests they need to be used as one snapshot of a larger picture. The main focus of assessment should be given by the teacher in direct relation to what is being taught in the classroom. I also really like the idea that the standardized testing only be given every few years. At the rate we are going now it is way too much. Here in my children's district they not only give a national standardized test but they also have a multitude of testing done for the state of Nebraska every year. It is just too much!

I hope for the benefit of all students that the suggestions made in this article are looked at seriously and hopefully implemented soon. Our students are failing, our schools are failing, and standardized tests are just not the answer, in fact I firmly believe they are the main cause!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Frugal Friday code and some additional stuff!

Having another Frugal Friday sale at my Amazon.com store 3/11/11. Only 24 hours starting at midnight PST. This week's deal is 50% off your entire order of The Teaching Bank teaching unit CD's. Use code FRFRDY50 at check out.



I haven't posted any new blog entries in awhile and for good reason! I am currently updating my current novel units. Adding some additional vocabulary activities and just sharpening the image a bit.  I am also adding some assessment items to the units. I have already completed updates on Frindle, The Report Card, and The Last Holiday Concert all by Andrew Clements as well as Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis. If you have purchased these units in the past as a download from Teachers Pay Teachers you will get an email allowing you to download the revised version with the updates included.



I am also keeping busy planning a trip to Florida to see the space shuttle Endeavour launch on (hopefully) 4/19/11. Senator Mike Johanns of NE has had me on his list for launch tickets to the NASA Causeway since 1/2010 and I am hopeful that I am one of the lucky people to receive them since I asked so dang early! I am a space shuttle nut! I have always dreamed of seeing a launch and I decided with there being only a few left I better get it checked off my bucket list before my chance runs dry! I not only want to see the launch I want to hear and really FEEL it. My trip has been postponed many times. Originally the launch date was 7/29/10 and was moved to November, then February, then April 1, and now finally April 19th. I spent way too much time on the NASA TV online feed tonight watching Endeavour being rolled out from the VAB to launch pad 39-A! The picture below shows Endeavour on the crawler that will deliver it to the pad. Now that Discovery is back and my shuttle is on the launch pad it is seeming more and more real that this may happen! I will keep you all updated!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Introducing Frugal Friday!

I don't know about you but lately it seems my bank account is getting smaller and smaller! Food prices increasing, gas prices increasing, everything increasing! So to help you retain money in your pocketbook The Teaching Bank is introducing Frugal Friday!

For 24 hours only on Friday, March 4 you can get 20% off of your Teaching Bank purchase at:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/The-Teaching-Bank/
Your discount will be automatically applied, no code needed.

You can also get 20% off your Teaching Bank purchase at:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_office-products?_encoding=UTF8&node=1064954&field-brandtextbin=The%20Teaching%20Bank

Use code: FRUFRIDY  at checkout.

Remember you always get free shipping on Teaching Bank products at Amazon with a min. $25 purchase!

Hopefully this will help you keep a little extra to spend on yourself this weekend!