I HEART to do lists. And they must be on paper, a pet peeve of mine is not being able to cross off completed tasks. I would share my weekend to do list and daily school to do lists but I don't for fear you all think I am a crazy person. Though it is probably true.
I follow blogs besides teacher blogs, one of which is A Beautiful Mess, they are both amazingly crafty and have some really neat tutorials. And over the holiday weekend I was telling Mr. B that I would like to set like four small goals to accomplish before the end of the year, similiar to what I have seen them post on their blog. And the holiday weekend came and went and my goals have not been set, I blame pinterest.
I came across Five for Five Linky on the Fantastically Average blog and thought that would be the perfect way to set a few goals and actually chronicle my progress, and of course cross off accomplished items!
So here goes...
1.  Leave work before 5:30 every night this week! Day one was a success, just have to keep it up.
2.  Go to the gym at least 3 times.
3.  Make a hair appointment. I have a love hate relationship with this, which means I only cut my hair at a salon twice a year. I also heart avoidance.
4.  Make a real phone date with Erica!
5.  Schedule my PDA's. I have a new PDA's administrator, our emails have been crossing, add my natural instinct to avoid stressful issues and I am nearly the only teacher who hasn't had one in the school. Epic failure on my part.
I wrestled with my last goal, I have loftier goals like "do something fun with Mr. B" or "make plans to see friends" but I know myself and I doubt that will happen in 5 days so I figured start basic and work my way up.
The Babbling Box!

Liebster Award

I feel like the last 5 days have flown by, could certainly use another five days. As I sit here and weigh the pros and cons of putting off school work and enjoying the last bit of the holiday weekend I decided to blog, such a great way to procrastinate.
I was SUPER honored to be nominated for a Liebster Award by Marie at Beach Lovin' Teach, I started this blog as a place to chronicle all of my thoughts/photos and ideas and never would have imagined people would actually read it or even enjoy it.

Here are the rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you)!

11 Random Things About Me!
- I have never lived anywhere besides the state of Texas.
- But I have lived in 10 different places since moving to Austin in 2003.
- I have a younger brother who is 21 years younger than me.
- My sister was secretly married for close to 2 years before anyone found out, not really about me but I was the first to know and the one who spread that gossip like wildfire and its just random.
- I dislike cats and dogs. I am just not an animal person, my fish killed it self.
- I like really bad television shows that my students watch, like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and The Secret Life of the American Teenager.
- But also DVR really good shows with Mr. B and get entirely too invested in them, like Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, Shameless...
- I dance around all the time, humming weird beats in my head or out loud.
- I hate driving, and I am pretty terrible at it if I am honest.
- I have crazy weird food issues, I hate bananas but love banana nut bread. Hate anything with lumps or strings...I am just ODD.
- I have a serious addiction to the justified setting when typing ANYTHING.
Questions asked by Marie...
1. How long have you been blogging?
I started officially blogging in June. 2. What is your favorite type of music?
I like every type of music, I could never pick just one. I am perfectly at home at a 3 6 Mafia concert, Luke Bryan concert or Drop Kick Murphy's concert.
3. Where would you go on your dream vacation?
Travel through Ireland, Greece and Spain. I am a bit of a history nerd when I travel and love to see old historical sites. And throw in some boozing we would have the perfect vacation.
4. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Spending time with Mr. B and friends. Crafting, shopping, blogging, cooking and pinteresting.
5. Do you have any siblings?
One brother, one sister and a half brother. One brother in law. I did have three step siblings, but I think I don't anymore. My family is a bit odd.
6. What's your favorite type of dessert?
Cheesecake. Turtle or pumpkin.
7. What would you do if you won a million dollars?
Pay off my debt. Give some to my family and take an amazing vacation with Mr. B, see number 3.
8. What is your favorite color?
Black or Gray.
9. Coffee or tea?
10. What is the last book you read?
Fifty Shades Trilogy.
11. What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?
Panicking during my first fist fight. Didn't know what to do and pretty much just froze until another teacher intervened.
Questions for my nominees...
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. Why did you start blogging?
3. If you weren't teaching what would you be doing?
4. How long have you been teaching?
5. Pepsi or Coke?
6. What is your favorite recipe or thing to cook?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. What are your favorite TV Shows?
9. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
10. If you could have one superpower what would it be?
11. What is your most embarrassing moment teaching?
Blogs I am nominating...
Thank you again to Marie for nominating me, and if you have already been nominated no reason to do this twice just leave a comment on my post so I can check out your answers!
The Babbling Box!


Yesterday during our harvest luncheon some of the teachers started going around saying what they were thankful for, and then of course everyone had to participate. I dislike being put on the spot and am absolutely terribly awkward speaking in front of groups of my co-workers, so I mumbled something quickly and passed the attention along to the next person. I do realize I teach and am "on the spot" all day and speak in front of groups all day but I do better with middle schoolers, don't ask me why.
So I started thinking I have TONS to be thankful for this year, here is my top ten.
Mr. B, he is my favorite person!
Words are really meaningless when describing how I feel about him. He is such an amazing sport through all of my antics, even remembered to get me flowers on one of our anniversaries last week. We have three, which he thinks is a bit silly, but regardless he plays along. Over 5 years with him and I still get excited by his texts and when he arrives home. Too cheesy I know!
AWOLNATION! We love good concerts.
I HEART this man!
The card said "happy 71st anniversary" but really its only are 15th, thats not odd at all..
Our home.
It might be too large for us, require too much time to clean and be way out of my teacher salary but we HEART it and some how we make it work.
My job.
Teaching certainly has its ups and downs but at the end of a day or week I am very thankful to have a classroom to go to each day, where hopefully I am making an impact.
My students.
Without them I would be incredible lonely in my classroom, or a bit more sane. Regardless of how some of them act towards me or in the room at the end of the day they are mine and make my job worth going to. They challenge me, annoy me and sometimes even thank me and on days when you get an "oh i get it" or "thank you" or "have a great holiday" I feel like its all worth it.
Having AC in my classroom. Enough Said.
This year my sister and I managed to work out being able to see both of our parents in one day. As I get older being able to spend time with my family becomes more and more important to me, so despite the 6:45 departure time in the morning and the 4+ hours of driving around, I am blessed to be able to spend time with both of my parents. And get to spend a little time with my grandparents, Aunt/Uncle, cousins and my brothers and sister. And whoever else might show up, my grandparents have an open door policy and generally tons of booze!
We probably need some better pictures together...
 Holiday time off!
I know some districts got the whole week off but I am not complaining about getting a five day weekend at all! At the law firm I had to plead A LOT to even get the day after Thanksgiving off for family time, so being at a job where time around the holidays is time off I feel very grateful.

Being financially stable.
I know that that statement seems odd coming from me, a teacher. But when so many of my students won't be having Thanksgiving, don't have winter clothes and can't just go shopping for things they want when they want, I feel blessed to not have to make those hard decisions. Yes I need to budget and watch my money carefully but I always have an option. Or make buying a new pair of shoes a completely justified expense.
To all teacher friends out there, the brand Reefs, are amazingly comfortable...like walking on foam!
Erica aka friendship.
I might do a pretty shitty job at keeping up with my long distance friends sometimes but over the past two months both myself and her have been willing to drop everything for a quick weeknight chat to regain some form of sanity, I use the word loosely, to our lives. I am saddened that she won't be coming to stay with us over the Christmas holidays this year but I know that means I just have to work harder to schedule more skype/wine dates with her. (Or our first one, just the thought of that over a normal cell phone convo sounds amazing!)

 Gym Memberships and pinterest/blog motivations!
It might feel like a slow start, two days a week in the gym, but just having the opportunity to try and push the habit back in my life is very nice/stress relieving. I also HEART all of the amazing teaching ideas, cooking recipes and decorating inspirations that exist out there, I feel like our every day life can sometimes be dictated by technology but with so many positive things being shared it can be completely worthwhile.
All and all this post was completely cheesy and way mushier that I ever tend to be, but having the luxury to sit at home today browsing the Internet and snacking on sausage balls reminded me that I should be thankful for the opportunity to be such a large bum!

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Babbling Box!

Financial Responsibility... Say What?

Back again and made it to the gym again, I feel like it might be too early to call it but this week is looking like an success.
First and foremost I must share the most wonderful dinner recipe. This evening I decided to venture from the menu plan and make something I saw on pinterest this morning. Yes I check pinterest at 6 am everyday. Don't judge me!

Momofuku Miso Butter Poached Eggs and Green Beans
First I take no credit in this photo, its straight from the pinterest link, mine sort of looked like a sloppy mess. But doesn't it look amazing! So I threw the recipe together in like 20 minutes tops and it was finger licking wonderful!  Holy moly, where has miso butter been all of my life. Its salty and yummy, and even better when poured over toast with a drizzle of honey. My willpower of just one piece is diminishing as I write this. Definitely a new recipe to throw in the mix. 
Here is the recipe if you are interested: Poached Egg and Green Beans with Miso Butter.
A couple of small notes, I didn't have Sherry Vinegar so I substituted rice wine vinegar/sherry wine combo. And if you dislike salty I would suggest a 2:1 ratio of the butter to miso, it was pretty salty. But I HEART salty flavors.
Back to the post at hand. A good chunk of my TEKS are directed at financial responsibility/literacy. When I first read the TEKS last year my response was pretty much, SAY WHAT?!? I am pretty sure I didn't know what a credit score was until I was in my early 20's and you want me to teach it to 11 year olds and keep them interested. Phew, you crazy.
And truly it was the hardest section for me to teach my students last year. 
I have three really good projects that incorporate the TEKS, which I will share in my next couple of posts. But it was the day to day teaching of the topics that was difficult.  But then after way too much time searching the google lesson planning
I stumbled across a few sites that are really amazing tools to assist in teaching financial literacy. 
So I thought I would share!
1.  http://themint.org/  this website can be geared at any grade level and can work in a few different subjects as it incorporates relevant tools for calculating, managing and understanding money and fiance.  Today we practiced writing checks and balancing checkbooks, there is also a neat exercise that will show students how much they would pay over time if they purchased something on a credit card. What I like about this website is it is written in kid friendly language with activities that are quick and are great for warm ups.
2.  http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/  this website is AMAZING and also geared at all grade levels. It has financial football and soccer games which my students really get into. The games will ask questions about financial topics and they have to answer to get a new play in the game. There are a bunch of over fun games on the site, as well as lesson plans, worksheets and powerpoints. One thing I saw this year was the Spiderman comic which deals with financial responsibility. Can't wait to read this with my class.
3.  http://www.moneyskill.org/  this website is my last new find for the year. It is geared towards high school and middle school and its crazy easy to use. All you have to do is set up your students, which you can do by mass import, and they can log in and take a pre test, complete assigned modules for grades and final a post test to see what they learned. There is sound combined with written words, great for my ELPS and questions along the way to keep them engaged and applying what they are learning. I feel like it is really able to offer my students real world examples in a much more meaningful way than me just talking.
My students this year seem to be more engaged and better able to discuss the terms than my students last year. A sign my resources are paying off! Proof, students were able to tell me the difference between a debit and credit card today with very little prompting from me.
And that is it! I swear I don't mean to write so much! I have some fun projects to share that incorporate financial literacy, my "angel" class actually jumped up and down they were so excited about the project. But another post, another day.
The Babbling Box!

Data Management Part 2...Behold the Rubric

I am back. Two days back to back, I am pretty sure there must be some sort of apocalypse. Actually it was just a day of professional development, so I feel less exhausted beat down, worn out which leaves time to blog and gym.
I am not sure about other teachers out there but I despise grading! I can plan lessons all day, make worksheets, create powerpoints, design projects and even look at data, but give me grades and I cringe.
This could be because grades in an elective class tend to be a bit of a ongoing joke. At the middle school level students do not have to pass an elective to go to the next grade. And while this was something I just learned last year, this seems to be something that every middle schooler knows. Especially the disruptive students. It's like someone pulled the kid aside and told him, "hey don't worry about anything but your core those electives do not matter!" So the kid passes this little nugget of info onto his friends, throws in my face a few times and then sits back puts his feet up and watches the dishevel.  Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic but that is certainly how it seems.
I learned my lesson though, the hard way, last year. Just because a student doesn't have to pass your class doesn't mean that you can fail them. I have about a 10% window of students that can fail and past that I have to make the rest of the students pass or I am stuck doing a intervention report on each student. And those suck! Really, why should I work harder than the students to get said students to pass!
So last year I spent soooo much time trying to plan project rubrics that would ensure student success. I should add that I am a project based class and we don't do testing. I would try and say like 10 points for your name, 5 points for turning it in correctly, 25 points for 5 pictures, etc. with a hope that a student could somehow make it to a passing grade with minimal effort. 
But this year I said no more!

A way to ensure that each student will pass my class without me making up grades.
How will I grade your  ___Project?

Game of Life Template
X 50
Budget has less than 75% of the parts complete
Budget has most (75-84%) of the parts complete
Budget has almost all (85-89%) of the parts complete
Budget has (90-100%) of the parts complete
Budget Calculations
X 15
- Budget has less than 75% of the calculations correct.
Budget has most (75-84%) of the calculations correct
Budget has almost all (85-89%) of the calculations correct
Budget has (90-100%) of the calculations correct
X 10
- many words misspelled
- many grammar errors
- formatting makes budget difficult to follow or read
- several spelling errors
- several grammar errors
- formatting makes it difficult to follow or read
- few spelling errors
- few grammar errors
- some formatting to help make the budget easier to read
- all words spelled correctly
- no grammar errors
- formatting makes the budget more informative and easier to read
X 25
- no multimedia or links
- one piece of multimedia
- several pieces of multimedia
- several pieces of multimedia
- multimedia adds to the understanding of the budget

 I started using this rubric this semester and it has been an amazing tool. I like that it doesn't box any of my creative students in by limits on pictures or information but ensures that the lowest grade will be a 70. Unless they turn nothing in, which does happen. Shakes head and large groan.
For each elective class and project I make a few small edits to the rubric and stick with the same grading type scale and language. And within minutes I have a project grading scale without a ton of effort on my part. This also makes grading a breeze, either they did or didn't meet the expectation of each category and I circle where they stand and then just average all four categories together.
I also HEART the language of the rubric: novice, practitioner, apprentice and expert tie in so perfectly with career based classes. I will also periodically use this language to ask students to rate themselves.  I borrowed this from a pinterest find and have made a large poster for my room for consistency.
Great way to get the kids to assess themselves and their learning.
Don't get me wrong I HEART teaching CTE classes, it was pretty much the vision for my teaching career, but the whole grading thing was really making me despise the design of electives in middle school. But with the rubric I ensure that I can get nearly all of my students a passing grade each six weeks.
Also on the super positive side, my students understand the effort they need for a good grade according to their standards early on, and are always amazed at themselves when they get that grade or higher in my class. With so much focus on testing data and core classes I like that my class gives students a chance to shine and really do well. Everyone needs that moment of happiness!

The Babbling Box!

Data Management...Or Something Like It.

First and foremost I have big news to share: the air condition in my classroom has FINALLY been fixed!!! Cue, loud fireworks, applause and sighs of relief. It had only been nine weeks, students were estatic on Friday it mine as well have been a holiday. And in positive news you won't have to read about how hot and cranky I am.
Another Sunday has come and I am just getting back to my poor neglected blog. I promise myself/my blog each week that I will post at least one post during the week, and then life happens. It's boring, not even worth discussing odds and ends that keep me clean, fed, clothed and sometimes mildly entertained.  It's sort of like me promising myself I will go to the gym 3+ times a week, and I only make it once a week.
Shrug, I at least get an A for effort right?!?
And with that statement I lead into a very enlightening post on my data management. Ok, scratch that just a post on data management. Let's set the expectations a bit more realistically.
My data management is very much geared toward middle schoolers but considering I just make it all up as I go along this could be false.  Here is your free copy if you would like to download it from my TPT store!
I have about 160+ students filter through my room on a given day, and I need to be able to keep track quickly of attendance, detentions, daily grades and warm up grades.
I have my AMAZING clipboard, its hot pink so its nothing short of amazing. And I use a excel spreadsheet for each class.  Every Friday I print the new excel sheet and have all 6 ready to go for Monday.  Each spreadsheet is divided up with a section for attendance, warm up grades, daily grades and notes.  And because I am SUPER OCD I use a different color pen for each day so my notes can easily be tracked to a specific day.

My students need instant gratification, as most probably do, so they know as I walk around and grade warm ups and check off their name they are already receiving 100's and we are not even 10 minutes into class. Its amazing the difference in effort I received when I started the clipboard method, I get to a student and they have not done their warm up. I stand their patiently clipboard and pen in hand, say "warm up" and walk to the next student. They race to get something on their paper. I will keep moving around the room and suddenly I hear "Ms come back, I did it" my clipboard has special powers.
I also try and take daily grades on the spreadsheet as well. I will come around and meet with groups/individual students and check progress, notes, etc. If a student is on task I make a little tally. Sometimes I get around twice or three times, so having their box full means they earned a 100 for the day. And then depending on the classes progress as a whole I will mark down points for students missing tallies.
Another great thing about the spreadsheet is it allows me to mark absent in their daily grade boxes if they aren't here, so I know to not give them a zero. In electives students get pulled out ALL the time; group meetings, CIS, counslors, administration, etc. So a student can complete the warm up but be pulled away for the daily grade part of class and all I have to do is make the notation in the appropriate box.  Because lets get real I would never remember that Susie Q spent most of the class in the nurses office last Tuesday.
One of the other really nice things about the spreadsheet method is I can make notes and then go back and enter referrals or enter the the information in ESCT after school or later in the week. With so many students I would never be able to remember who was tardy, ran out, had detention without keeping little notes on my spreadsheet.
Something new I started doing this year was I color coded their printed names based on their accomodations. We have to keep track of SPED, 504 and LEP students. So on each spreadsheet I have labeled their names with yellow, green or blue depending on their accomodation. If anyone got a hold of my clipboard they would have no clue who was what, just that I like random colors.
Another amazing use of my spreadsheet is notes for class progress, I teach 3 different Robotics courses and all three classes have different needs and personalities. I am able to mark at the top of the spreadsheet where we left off, what needs to be readdressed the next day or even classroom management issues.
For example, Thursday 2nd period lost their minds and decided to stack up headphones in my turn in box rather than put them in the headphone boxes. Don't ask me why. Really its not a big deal, sometimes I think that that bell rings and they just all go into panic mode, must leave class as quickly as possible screw all of my belongings. But still the item needed to be addressed on Friday as handling supplies correctly is VERY important in my classroom. Honestly: after seeing 3 other classes on Thursday, staff meeting, dealing with AC technicans and actually seeing Mr. B for the first time all week, headphones were the last thing on my mind when I got to school Friday. But looking at my spreadsheet reminded me what needed to be addressed with the class.
At the end of each six weeks I take all 6 spreadsheets for each class and file them away in my data binder just in case something happens and I need my documentation.
I know that every teacher has their own method of keeping up with data. I also know that being an elective teacher at middle school means I have a lot more freedom with how I keep up with daily data. But considering last year as a first year teacher I had no clue how to keep up with this properly I thought I would share.  Here is the link at my TPT store to download it for free:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Class-Roster-Managing-Data
Hopefully tomorrow's post will be part 2 of Data Management, grading for a class of students who don't actually have to pass your class. Sounds riveting!
The Babbling Box!

November Currently

I was disappointed I missed the October currently, my stupid frustrating laptop died so it spent most of October at the HP store, but its back so I am back in blogging action.  And I really thought I was getting a jump start on the currently this month then I realized I was the 216+ blogger, goodness gracious.
Before I link up I have a good classroom moment to share. I know some of my posts have been a bit negative lately and so I am trying to spend more time dwelling on the good moments and less on the negative.
In Robotics we are building and programming racers that will compete in a race on a track I designed. This year it is a little trickier, I designed a ramp for the bot to go down and then it has to touch a wall and turn around and race back to the finish line. I am giving the students one more day, tomorrow, to work out the kinks as I really want to have everyone participating. Something that did not happen last year.
In one of my Robotics classes on Wednesday, I call them my rock stars because they really set the bar high for the rest of the classes, we spent nearly the full 90 minutes testing/editing. And I do my best to move around and spend time to work with each group to see if I can assist but with 30 of them and one of me some groups get less time. But I had groups helping each other out!
At one point I just stopped my group meetings and just watched because it was truly something special. Groups were helping each other with the programming, editing bots so they wouldn't get caught on the ramp and just being good allies towards each other. It didn't matter that they were in different grades, different social groups or even the competition they were just being helpful. It was that moment that I knew that both I and the school were doing something really positive this year, and that I really wish an administrator was observing this!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program, I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this month's currently. And you should too!


Last week was not a pretty week for a particular class, we had some serious bullying/inappropriate language issues with one male student towards multiple younger students.  His complete indifference for the severity of what he was saying and the fact that I was cursed at so much by him shook my confidence in my teaching abilities a bit. So this weekend has been about getting my zen on in hopes that I can get my mojo back and we can have a successful week.

This whole extra hour has been absolutely awesome! Me and Mr. B had the house clean and I had lunch bubbling in the crock pot before 1:00 today. I love feeling super productive!
I would also love to be able to say I am enjoying fall, because I do HEART me boot months, but it was been so hot with 80+ temperatures that it mine as well still be summer time. Really wishing fall weather would hurry up and join us.

I already have my lessons done for this week, but I really should get a jump start and have them ready to go till Thanksgiving break. I HEART that I get to teach three completely different electives but sometimes it feels like a ton of work to get lessons, worksheets, agendas and powerpoints ready for three different classes each week. My conference period, planning period, before and after school get taken over by lesson planning that I happily avoid making those dreaded negative parent phone calls. Not having to choose between the two important tasks would be very nice.

To place an order to Victoria Secret for new clothes, its been since June since I last ordered. Enough said.
Also wanting fall weather/the AC in my classroom to be fixed so I don't have to keep dressing like its still summer time. Grr.... my boots are totally feeling neglected.

To get back in the gym on the regular. Now that most of the first of the year administrative duties have settled down I NEED to get back to regular work outs. I made it one day last week, which was sort of an accomplishment but I need to up it to three/four days at least. Definitely would help me achieve my zen state a little easier.  Did I mention I am making enchiladas for lunch for the week, definitely need some gym time to work off that.

We saw AWOLNATION two weeks ago, which had two amazing openers. Imagine Dragons was one of them and I have become obsessed. I haven't read the lyrics to all of their songs but at least two of them are appropriate for school so my kiddio's get stuck listening to them a lot. I even was uber excited that one student knew who they were, yes the class looked at me like a goof but what's new.
Hope everyone has a great week!
The Babbling Box!