Saturday, June 30, 2012

Blog Swap & Hop ~ Inclusion Tips from The Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher!

Top Teachers' Blog Swap and Hop Day is here!!!  I am so excited about this fruit basket turnover that's happening in the teacher blogosphere today!  I hope you will take the time to hop around the linky below as we have as worked extra hard creating great posts to swap for this event....most even include a freebie!

I'll be over at Kathie's blog, The Diary of a Not-So-Wimpy Teacher, sharing about Teaching Math through Literature.  I'd love for you to check it out after you've read these great ideas from my first-ever guest blogger, Katie!

Take it away, Katie...

Hi everyone! My name is Katie and I am guest posting from The Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher! 

Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

I just finished my first year teaching in May and cannot wait for my 2nd year to start in August! I have known for a long time that I wanted to be a teacher, and after finishing my first year, I know this is exactly what I was put on this planet for! However, I always thought that I would teach 1st or 2nd grade, but obviously you have guessed by now that is not what I teach. I love 6th grade and do not have any plans of leaving it any time soon. :)

This past school year I had one inclusion class which I quickly fell in love with! (I am even more excited because I already know that I will be having two inclusion classes next school year!) One of the things that I worried about from the beginning was making sure that all students remain engaged in the classroom since the learners and levels in it are so varied. I thought since I had some success with it this past school year that I would share my top 3 tips with you all! 

One. Arrange your room to allow students the opportunity to work with partners in various settings. One thing I did was actually label my student desks with a 1, 2, 3, or 4. This made it easy to put students in groups or tell them that the even numbers need to work together at the table, etc. You can see what I am talking about in this picture from August in my classroom.

Two. Use an appointment book with your students that you create during the first week of school. This is actually a freebie for you too! Visit my store to download it for yourself!
What I do is have my students find a partner that will be there appointment for various assignments throughout the school year. All students have to do is simply right down each others name on the corresponding spot on the clock. Once these are all filled out, we glued them into our interactive notebooks and they stay there all school year so we can easily reference them. We did change our appointments at the semester which I think really helped us too. 

Three. It is also important to allow opportunities for movement within the classroom to help keep students engaged. In my classroom students are constantly moving and it makes a big difference. They are not asking me to get up out of their seats because they know that they will have several opportunities to move during the class period. The little bit of movement helps all of my students stay in engaged. 

I hope you have discovered something that you can use to help keep your students engaged in your classrooms this fall! Be sure you check out all of the other wonderful bloggers who are participating in the Swap and Hop! 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fun Friday ~ A Woo-Hoo & A Summer Shopping Party

Final Friday of June!  It's already 100 degrees in my neck of the woods, so I can't even begin to imagine how bad July and August are going to be.

I have 2 things for you today on Fun Friday.

The first is a WOO-HOO!  {Sorry for screaming, but...}

Making It As A Middle School Teacher just surpassed 100,000 page views!  I took this screen shot just a few minutes before writing this post.

I can not even begin to thank you enough!!  Each and every one of you is important to me, no matter how long you've been following and creating those page views!  If you weren't viewing, reading, and commenting, my bloggy world would be pretty lonely.  So, "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart!

Before I get too sappy, let's move on to the second thing for today.

I'm joining Kristen at Ladybug's Teaching Files for a Summer Shopping Linky Party!  This one is for June.

Here's what I've been busy gathering for my classroom so far.

{This might indicate that I'm going with a big of a theme this year, other than just bright colors and polka dots.  Yeah, I teach Middle School, but that doesn't mean a girl can't have a cute room, right?}
From Dollar General

{I have a Post-It Note Purse I bought last year this will look fab with this Stiletto Tape Dispenser on my desk!  There's a little bit of diva in every gal!}
From Wal-Mart

{Using an idea from Jen Runde on Classroom DIY, I'm going to do a neat craft with these letters.}
From Michaels

{Sometimes I just buy things for no real reason other than I like school supply stuff!}
Magnets & Big Clips from The Container Store; Labels & Clothes Pins from Wal-Mart

{Everybody needs some patterned Duck Tape in their life!}
From...I don't know, all over.

{Sharpies make me happy and deserve their own picture, in my honest opinion!  After all, I was a child of the 80's!}
From Wal-Mart

{These packs of printed folders were too adorable to pass us!  Thinking they may be for some type of centers of student use...}
From the Clearance Aisle at Wal-Mart

{When I look at this plastic placemat, I see some type of game board.  I'm waiting on divine intervention to tell me just exactly what type.  o_O}
From Wal-Mart

{I've noticed lots of great ideas for Jenga games in the classroom lately, so I bought a knock-off for less than half the cost of the 'real' one.}
From Dollar General

{This assortment will turn into a great student-centered feature in my classroom and I'm excited to finish it and share it with you!  Although since purchasing this, I decided to got with a different color scheme, so I'll be making another trip to the store for adjustments.}
From Michaels

{This is an I-have-no-idea-what-so-ever pile right here!  Yeah I know, I teach Middle School, but they still like to have fun, too, and I see some hidden potential in these.}
From the Clearance Aisle at Dollar General

There may be a few other bags of junk goodies around the house somewhere, but just in case Mr. Making It peeks at this post, I won't go searching for now!  :)

I always get so excited pulling together new items for my room each year and thinking about what I'm going to do differently, even with instruction and management ideas!  No matter how ready I am for the school year to end, I seem to spend most of my summer preparing for the next one!

How about you?  Have you made any purchases or new plans for next year?  I'd love to hear about them!

Oh...don't forget about this tomorrow...

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guided Math ~ Chapter 4: Whole-Class

Well, I suppose I was just kidding when I said Chapter 3 was my favorite because now Chapter 4 might be.

And...when I said I could incorporate almost everything from Chapter 3 into my seems as though the same can be said about Chapter 4.

In fact, I told you I was already doing many of the ideas in Chapter 3 just not in the exact same way.  Yep, you guessed it.  I already do many of the ideas in Chapter 4 as well.

Again, my way of doing things would need a little tweaking or a little re-vamping, but I'm so excited to see that Guided Math is still a real, doable thing for me in my 7th Grade classroom!!!

So Chapter 4 was all about whole-class instruction and how it fits in with Guided Math.

Not if it fits, but how it fits.

You're thinking whole-class instruction is old-school and out-dated, so how can it be part of a newer classroom approach to teaching math?

As always, just because something is old doesn't mean it's bad or should be tossed out.  What needs to be tossed out is thinking that whole-class instruction is the only way to teach!

Sammons mentions several types of lessons or times of instruction where whole-class instruction is the way to go.

{from bulleted list on Page 106}

Challenges of whole-class instruction were mentioned and mainly focused on communication.  Students not talking to each other or the teacher enough.  The teacher not talking to individual students enough, and so on.

Teachers should use their own judgement and weigh the pros and cons when deciding what part of the lesson and for long whole-class instruction vs. individual, partner, or small-group instruction will take place.

There were a few pages focusing just on the mini-lesson.

{from bulleted list on Page 116}

Sammons then goes into detail about examples of activating strategies.  

I was very excited about the next section...Reading Math-Related Children's Literature!!  I may have possibly written a guest blog post about this and it may possibly be scheduled for this weekend.  Just saying...and I may just be really excited for you to possibly read it this weekend.  {Is that enough hints?}

In fact, I've been working on a new 'line' of products based on this concept.  So you can image how happy I was to read this section after so much work had gone into my post and my idea!

I'll give you a little clue of what might be to come here on my blog.  {I'm hoping to have several up before school starts back!}

In the end, I still feel like this is totally doable in my classroom and I get more and more excited with each chapter!

This chapter is being hosted by:

Sweet Seconds

You can check out both of their posts, link up with either or both, and find links to several other posts about this chapter, too!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Good Pencil Sharpener is Hard to Find

If you spend any time at all in the teaching blogosphere, you've probably seen several reviews of this pencil sharpener already.

Well mine came in the mail a couple of days ago and I couldn't wait to get it out of the box and give it a try!

I was even kind of happy that mine was blue instead of green.  

This sharpener is very different than others.  However, it's not hard to use!  You just pull the front part out until it clicks, then squeeze the clippy-do at the top to allow the pencil to go in, and push the pencil all the way through.  The only thing left to do is sharpen away.  The plate in the front slides back as you sharpen and when it touches the rest of the sharpener, you're done!

Look at the point on that thing!!!

A clamp comes with the sharpener allowing you to attach it to a table or book shelf.  I didn't try it with the clamp because it was easy enough to use without it.  With my students, who are much clumsier most days, I will use the clamp just as a pre-caution.  

The only drawback I can see to having this in my classroom is that it's so different everyone will probably want to use it at the same time {maybe even when their pencils don't even need to be}.  It will take a few days for the novelty to wear off, I'm sure.  :)

I love the speed of electric pencil sharpeners, but I hate the noise, especially when I'm trying to talk to a group of students near it.  I have yet to have a classroom with a decent sharpener on the wall.

I'm hopeful this will be a great alternative in my classroom.  I usually have 2 or 3 sharpeners so that everyone can sharpen quickly as they enter the room and begin their daily warm-up.  So....I might just have to buy 1 or 2 more of these!

Did I mention that it really is pretty quiet?  Especially compared to electric versions.

Another thing I like about this pencil sharpener is that a real teacher sells them!  How cool is that?  His name is Troy and you can find out more about his product by clicking on the badge above.

Two quick reminders...

I blogged about this earlier in the week, but I wanted to remind you one more time.  I will be doing my first ever guest blog post for another blogger AND I will be hosting my first ever guest blogger here!  I'm so excited and hope you'll be sure to check out both posts.  There'll be a link at the bottom of the post so you can actually see many bloggers who are trading places on Saturday.  A bloggy friend referred to it as a Blogger Fruitbasket Tunrover.  

Be sure to check out Endless Possibilities each day this week as we are hosting our first Theme Week for Canada Day and July 4th!  There have been awesome ideas every day.  There's a cute, Patriotic printable available for download today...

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

{NOTE ~ This pencil sharpener was provided to me at no charge to review and use in my classroom.  However, the opinions stated in this post are completely my own and were in no way influenced by the supplier!}

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tech Tip Tuesday ~ PicMonkey Tutorial

I'm excited to share a screencast with you this week for Tech Tip Tuesday!

I bought a MacBook Pro a few months ago and I've slowly been acquiring the software needed {or wanted} to do videos and screencasts.  I think I'm just about set with everything!

When Picnik closed a couple months ago, I was devastated because I used that website All.The.Time.

Luckily, I found a great replacement that does just about everything Picnik did.

The website is called PicMonkey.

This video will share some basic information about using and editing in PicMonkey.  I plan to do more specific, detailed videos later with each one highlighting a certain feature within PicMonkey.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and I hope you find this useful!

Have you tried PicMonkey?  Leave me a comment letting me know what you think about it!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Monday, June 25, 2012

Made it Monday ~ Patriotic Wreath

Happy last Monday in June!  I don't know about you, but my summer seems to be flying by way too fast!

Yesterday, I posted my Pinterest-inspired Patriotic Wreath on Endless Pinabilities.

So I thought I'd share a few pictures I took while making it and link up with 4th Grade Frolics' Made it Monday!  There are tons of great ideas over there for your classroom and your home.

Here it is in a nutshell...


  • 12" or 14" Floral Wreath {Do NOT buy the white ones that flake off when you touch them!}
  • 6 - 8 Sheets of Each Color Felt ~ Red, White, Blue
  • Ruler or Cutting Mat
  • Scissors
  • Straight Pins {No joke, I used an entire box of 450 and started on another box!}
  • Craft Wire {Wrap around a pencil to create as many 'springs' as the number of stars you want.}
  • Decorative Ribbon
  • Glue Gun {not shown}
  • White Card Stock or Foam ~ Cut into Stars {not shown}
  • ****THIMBLE**** {...or you will be sorry after poking in 500 straight pins! o_O}


  1. Cut felt into 2" squares, but don't stress over perfection here.
  2. I used straight pins to mark the approximate size of my sections before I started to get the layout like I wanted it.
  3. Fold each square into a triangle then fold over again to make a smaller triangle with 4 layers.
  4. Push a straight pin through the corner.
  5. I found it went much quicker to make a bunch of little felt tee-pees with pins stuck in them at one time {or have my hubby help}.
  6. Poke those bad boys into the wreath.
  7. Make sure you slightly taper each section towards the center of the wreath since you are working with a round object.
  8. Hot glue stars to the wire springs you made.
  9. Stick them into the blue section.
  10. Hot glue a piece of ribbon to the back for a hanger.

I would not recommend trying to complete this in one sitting or your back side may begin to take root to your chair!  This took a few hours altogether.

This was the inspiration pin...and she does have quite a detailed tutorial on her blog.

                                                                  Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Welcome Facebook Post Party-Goers!

Hey guys and welcome to Making It As A Middle School Teacher!

My name's Michelle and I'm so glad you stopped by.  I'd LOVE for you to take a moment to look around my blog and consider following me if you find something you like!

I teach 7th grade and mostly focus on Math, Science, and Social Studies.  However you will find a little bit of everything from time-to-time.

I'm an avid Pinner and I contribute to several other collaborative blogs as well!

I do have a Free Stuff! Page that you are welcome to check out, but I am also including 2 links below to freebies on Google Docs.

These products would work for almost any grade level!  Just click on each image to go download your's right now! a special Party Favor, I'm providing a link to another product in Google Docs that is usually a priced item in my TPT Store.  It will only be available for free during this special Party tonight and then the link will be taken down!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},