January 31, 2011

Things I'm Loving Right Now

  • Raw fish- Seriously, sushi is my most favorite food ever (right now). I was so craving it last week. I had to buy some smoked salmon at the store for breakfast this week. Mmmmm...

  • Watching Star Trek The Next Generation on BBC America- I've never been a big Trek fan (but always been a big nerd) but I've really gotten into watching the quality 90's Trekness I remember my dad watching back in the day. I heart Patrick Stewart. And Worf is totally the best character.

  • Driving Klaus- Yes, I've named my new Jetta Klaus. I love him.

  • Starting and ending the day with kisses from my husband- He doesn't even mind that I wake him up at the crack of dawn every day

January 30, 2011

Catholic Schools Week and Other Randomness

Hello Two Readers,

Yet another busy weekend. I spent about 3 hours in my classroom yesterday and 6 hours today getting ready for open house and showing off my classroom for open house. I estimate my work week last week was well over 60 hours!

The open house went wonderfully though and my classroom looks great. Catholic Schools Week has begun and we have a lot going on this week at our school including a spirit rally, variety show, liturgy, and Grandparents' Day celebration.

I found a great post on ideas for lessons to teach during the week for every subject area at The Religion Teacher. I've already done some lessons with my students relating to why they are proud to go to a Catholic School and writing about what they love about their school. We also displayed our Picasso Faces at the Art Fair today which was open during the Open House.

It was not all work and no play last week though. My sweetie and I felt like we desperately needed a date night on Friday and went out for some sushi and sake (mmmmm...). We also finally got my watch (a wedding present from my hubby) engraved with our wedding date and sized to fit my freakishly bony wrist.

See? Crazy, pointy boniness. Try to focus on the beautiful ring instead :)
We also indulged in watching terrible SyFy channel original movies including the awful Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid starring Deborah Gibson and Tiffany (does anyone even remember who they are anymore? I don't). Please don't watch the movie. Ever.

Anyway, I apologize for the complete ADD randomness of this post. My poor brain is clearly overworked at the moment to form coherent thoughts.

Have a great week everyone!!! Don't work too hard ;)

January 22, 2011

January Art Project- Picasso Faces

These past couple of weeks have been very busy for our class. I introduced an artist study of Pablo Picasso and then led the students in creating their own Picasso inspired pieces of art.

First we read about Picasso's life and artwork. I emphasized how he used color to convey emotion and how different he was from other artists at the time.

We then looked a little closer at our inspiration picture. We discussed how Picasso used shape and color to convey emotion. We made a list of emotions and colors that can represent those emotions.

Students then chose two emotions and drew faces to represent the two emotions.

Students then colored the pictures using colors to convey the emotions they chose.  This students chose hungry and angry :) Hungry is not really an emotion, more of a feeling but it works!

Next, the students cut the faces into pieces using Picasso's cubist shapes as inspiration. We discussed sharp shapes and round shapes.

Finally, students arranged the pieces from both faces on a piece of paper and glued them down.

The final product is a cubist style face made with combination of two faces showing two emotions. The students wrote about their pieces on the index card below the face.

This project is a lot of fun for the kids. It took us a couple days to complete these. Next year, I'd like to spend a little more time. I think they would turn out even better if we painted the faces using more saturated colors. I think the students who used the most color had the most dramatic final results. These would be a great conclusion to a color investigation in art (primary, secondary colors) or as part of a weekly artist study.

January 17, 2011

Using Pre-Assessments

Update: I realized that I posted my draft version of the pre-assessment with some typos. I'll fix it soon!

I have recently started writing up pre-assessments for everything! Since I've been teaching second grade for two and a half years now, I know the curriculum pretty well and have a little bit more time to make up things like pre-assessments to go with each unit.

Pre-assessments are wonderful for differentiated instruction. You can see which students already know the material and which students do not. In math, I realized that it was pointless to teach two digit addition to some of my students because they already knew how to do it. A pre-assessment would have shown me that in the beginning. I could have then broken up the class and given those students some extensions and enrichments while teaching the other students the material that is new to them. 

Pre-assessments also useful in the planning process. Since I'm teaching toward objectives, I want to always be aware of what the students need to be able to know or do by the end of the unit. When I make up the assessments in the beginning of the unit, I can correlate the questions directly to each standard and have a very clear picture of what I need to teach. 

Students can also benefit from taking pre-assessments. Not only can they see improvement from the pre-assessment to the post-assessment (or summative, or end-of-unit, or whatever you want to call it), but they can start building schema and connections right away and start creating a mental road map of what they will be learning over the next week, two weeks, month, or however long the unit is. I added a few self-assessment questions at the end of the assessment asking students what concepts they were already familiar with and which concepts were new to them.

Below are examples of a Geometry Pre-Test and a Recording Sheet to check off who mastered each particular standard for that unit.

I'm still experimenting with these, but so far they have given me valuable information about what I teach and how I teach.

Geometry Unit Pre-Test

Geometry Pre-Test and Post-Test

Can't Keep Up!

Sooooo, I've realized that I really can't keep up with any sort of daily posting right now. I've decided to switch to weekly posts. I hope to do one school-related post and one marriage-related post each week. I've decided to schedule Saturdays for my posting because that's when I usually have the most time. I know bloggers usually take the weekends off but I think it's because the blogging is their jobs during the week...

Anyway, I've been really flaky and would like to apologize to anyone who actually checks this. I haven't given up yet!!!

Thanks for anyone who has stopped by. I hope you have found something useful and worth reading :)

Have a wonderful week!

January 11, 2011

Here We Go a WASC-aling...

Man, has this week been busy. Since the school where I work is a private school, we have to get accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. This means we've had tons of meetings after school to write all the documents we need and prepare the stacks of evidence to show how awesome our school is.

Consequently, I've deserted the blog yet again. I've been working on some longer posts that I'll post soon but I haven't been home long enough to finish them!

In the meantime, here's an adorable picture of my family's Beagle, Chloe, who I miss greatly. Enjoy your week!

She's smiling :)

January 8, 2011

How to Properly Dispose of a Christmas Tree

Now that the Christmas season is officially over (at least in the Catholic Liturgical Calendar), I've finally packed away the rest of our Christmas decorations both in the classroom and at home.

I also took part in my in-law's amazing tradition of burning their Christmas tree. This is something they've been doing in their outdoor fireplace for about 7 years now. Over the years it has become quite a celebration. This year it expanded to two nights and five trees total (including our first tree which was suitably dead and dried out for the occasion). It is both frightening and exhilarating to see how quickly the trees go up in flames (and partly explains why my husband's such a pyro). Ultimately, it's all about seeing how high the volcano-like flames can go.

Does anyone else have an unusual after-Christmas traditions? Any other tree burners out there? If you don't have an outdoor fireplace, you could easily cut off a few branches to use as kindling in your fireplace and satisfy any pyros in your own family.

Have an extreme weekend everyone :)

We held the cut up branches in the fireplace with rakes and other garden tools.

With so many trees, the flames grew quite large.

Almost too large!

Push those flames back!


The volcano.

Ooooo, fire!

A casualty. 

Happy holidays!

January 6, 2011

Holidays in Pictures

Dear Two Readers,

We've made it well past the holidays, but I thought I'd post a summary of what I've been doing over the past few weeks. This past week has been loooooong to say the least. I still feel very "off" in the sense that I haven't settled back into my regular schedule yet. I have so many things on my to do list and I am absolutely exhausted.

This post marks a new start to the year though. I hope to post regularly and have been working on lots of teaching and newlywed related posts that will be up in the upcoming weeks.

Happy New Year!

Beautiful San Gabriel Mountains

Lights and luminaries on my parents' street

My parents house

The tree

My dad has an extensive collection of vintage ornaments and lights



Chloe's present

My new shades

Chloe enjoying her present

We got an herb garden!

Stoking the fire

Playing Apples to Apples...try to guess the adjective

We watched Iron Chef on New Year's Eve...I'm not sure why

We took my sister and her fiance to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego

Evidence of partying the night before

San Diego Bay

Then we went to Stone Brewing and went on a beer tour

Mmmmm...beer. It was a happy new year for us :)

January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

My sister and her fiance are in town and my husband and I are showing them around San Diego today.

We had a lot of fun playing Bezzerwizzer and Apples to Apples, watching Iron Chef (randomly), and drinking excellent beer as we counted down to 2011 last night. It was a perfect mix of low key fun and partying.

One of my new year's resolutions is to post regularly. This week has been crazy with the car shopping, sickness, and lots of relatives visiting. I'll post pictures as soon as I can.

In more exciting news, I bought a CAR yesterday!

After all the searches, test drives, calls, haggling, and stress it all ended up okay. It ended up being easiest just to get a brand new 2011 Jetta. I love it so much!!! It's a great car and was very affordable for us. Also, we got great financing on it.

Here is a picture of what the car looks like:

It's a beautiful blue color and drives great. I have to say that it was a little emotional to let go of my old Saturn which my husband used to call "The Pig" due to its grunty and slow acceleration. 0 to 60 in a blistering 20 seconds! The car served me well though and I was sad to sell it off. There comes a time to move on though and I figured, "What better way to start off the new year than with a new car?" So far, this year is off to a great start!

Well, I'm off for some fun with my sister today. I hope everyone had a great start to your new year :)