Sunday, February 23, 2014

Intro to Parenting

I'm big on short group activities this year - it gets them up and moving, gives them a chance to chat, and offers a jumpstart/refresher/review to whatever topic we're covering.

In Child Development, we have a short unit on "Parental Readiness" - the primary objective of course being to convince them that they are NOT ready to have children at their age. To intro this topic, I divided them into five random groups, and sent each group to a kitchen with this sheet:

In the box labeled #1, they had to choose (as a group) what they thought would be the most difficult job to have. Then they had to fill in the boxes in the column below box #1 to the best of their ability with what they already know.

All groups had to finish column #1 before anyone was told what column #2 was for.

When all had finished column #1, they were told to write "Parent" in box #2, then repeat the exercise for that column.

It was not long at all before they realized how difficulty the job of "parent" must be, leading to some great discussion. Also, a terrific springboard for that day's lesson. Score!

Here are the filled out forms for your entertainment:

I'll definitely be doing this one again!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ironing Board Cover Tutorial

I do love fun ironing board covers, as you can see from the ones I made at a former school. At that school, I had a lot of floor space, so I had three full-size ironing boards. At my current school there was only one ironing board in the room, I assume because there is so little floor space. However, there is a good amount of counter space, so I figured counter top models were better than everyone waiting for one board. Naturally, they needed fun covers.

If you're looking for a tutorial with finished seams and overall 4-H quality, this is not that tutorial. But if you are looking for something simple, quick, with imperfections no one will notice, this is for you!

Supplies: Countertop Ironing Board (under $7 at WalMart) and 1/2 yard of fabric.

Cut around half of the ironing board leaving a width of about 3 inches.

Remove board, fold fabric in half, then cut around to make fabric symmetrical.

Iron approximately 1" in all the way around the piece. I left the raw edges - who is going to look underneath the ironing board?

Sew around the fabric, leaving an opening on the flat, short end to string your twine through the casing. I chose to use a zigzag stitch to overlap the raw edge.

Tape one end of a twine roll, then spear with a safety pin. Use pin to guide the twine through the casing.

Place ironing board on top of the fabric, pull twine, and tie.

All done!

The process is a little easier when you don't have a "helper" scampering about, but it does make things more interesting!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Post-It Comments

Here's something I've been doing this year to get the kids to read a few different news articles linking current events to the topic we were studying in class.

I print out a few short news articles (generally one for every three students in the class), blow up the font to make it easy for a group of three or four to read at the same time, then staple the article to the top of a piece of cut down poster board. I spread them around the room, leaving a small stack of Post-It Notes in each station.

When it comes time for the activity, I randomly divide the class into groups (in this particular instance I had them draw colored Easter eggs out of a jar; the kids were grouped by the color they drew), then send them to their stations with something to write with.

I tell them to take a couple of minutes to read the article, then write a comment on or question about the article on a Post-It, initial it, and stick it to the poster board underneath the article. We have a brief discussion on what a "good" comment looks like before starting.

When they finish the first article, I have the groups rotate stations. We repeat until they have a chance to read all of the articles.

Here's an example. Our topic is homelessness, and the article is "Hawaii Rep. Tome Brower Takes A Sledgehammer (Literally) To Homelessness Problem" from November 2013 (this article made me want to take a sledgehammer to something, so I was interested to hear what the kids would say). Note: due to benchmark testing I was missing several kids this day, otherwise I would have used a larger board.

The comments:
Why not use a safer and kinder approach?
This is just crazy.
Why can’t they use the shopping carts and how does he identify them?
People may feel threatened easily.
Why does he destroy the carts?
Why can’t the homeless have the shopping carts?
Why does he use a sledgehammer?
What a great guy!
Destroying people’s transportation that are homeless is rude.
He needs to give them something else after he destroys them.
Hawaii people need more sledgehammers.

Go Rambo Go!

Obviously not all followed our guidelines for good comment-writing (hence why I required initials), but there were both good thoughts and good questions. 

I've used this a few times this year in different classes, and I've really liked it. It gives the kids a chance to voice their opinions or ask questions in a safe way, without drawing too much attention to themselves. It gives me a chance to see how their thought processes work, as well as assess their background knowledge. As they go around reading, they naturally discuss what they're reading with each other.

Best of all, by keeping the articles short and keeping the kids moving, I've found that the kids do actually read what I put in front of them - amazing!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Currently February 2014!

The first day of a new month - that means Currently with Farley!

Listening - How well I know the "Skyrim" soundtrack : ).

Loving - Wow, January went FAST! That means we're inching toward spring, which means a reprieve from this epic winter; come on, Punxsutawney Phil!

Thinking - My content test for the Reading Specialist certification (and degree) is this coming Saturday, and is the last thing I need to do to officially complete that master's. Woot woot!

Wanting - One of my best friends just had her first baby on January 16th, and he is of course absolutely adorable! So far I've only seen the pictures though, because she's a little over an hour away and the weather will just not let up for travel!

Needing - We have yet to reclaim any sense of normalcy since returning from Christmas Break. The first week back was a three-day due to weather; the second was Homecoming; the third was a four-day due to MLK, Jr Day; last week we had two "polar day" cancellations; this week doesn't look promising; AAARRRRGHHH! The kids have been nuts, and who can blame them?

Truths/Lie - I did give up Pepsi for about 13 1/2 months. I do love Pepsi! I have no interest in any other soft drink, though in a pinch I may occasionally have a root beer. I'm happy to report that since returning to my Pepsi ways I've not been overindulging.

As for the FACS classes, I only took one FACS class in high school, it was only one semester, and it was "eh." Weird for a FACS teacher, huh? It wasn't until college that I discovered that passion!

And yes, there are TWO John Philip Sousa awards on our home piano - one is mine, one is my husband's. Back when we taught at the same high school we would go to the graduation party of that school's JPS winner from that year so that we could have a photo taken of all three of us holding our JPS awards.

Here's to a new month! Let's make it a great one!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nasco... Live and in Color!

I'm frequently asked where I find all of my color-coded kitchen equipment, and the simple answer is this: EVERYWHERE! WalMart, Target, Dollar Stores, random kitchen stores, Amazon (of course) and everywhere in between. Once you start looking for/noticing these things, you find them all over!

I've just discovered that companies are also beginning to wisen up and sell colored bundles of kitchen supplies - check out this page from Nasco's 2014 FACS catalog:

Sorry for the terrible lighting, but you get the idea. Whether you're looking for bundles or just individual pieces, this is a great place. And no, sadly Nasco has offered me nothing to tote their wares, I just thought that this might be helpful. At the very least, if you don't already receive this catalog follow the link above and getcha one, they have a lot to offer!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day Our Way - Schedule Link-Up

I don't do a lot of "linky" parties, but this one looked interesting - check it out at Where the Wild Things Are. Here is my second semester schedule this year:

When I drove on my own, I was usually at the school by 6:45am - I love the early morning quiet (and unhindered access to the copy machine!). Now that I carpool I get in a little later, but it's definitely worth it for the savings, the decrease in driving, and the increase in time to talk with my fabulous co-workers!

On every day but Wednesday classes are 49 minutes each, study hall and lunch are 30 minutes, and passing periods are 3 minutes (very small school!). On Wednesdays we have late starts, which cuts classes down to 44 minutes.

OFCS - Orientation to Family & Consumer Sciences
This one is a survey course - a sampler of all of the classes that I teach. I like that I get to switch topics every 4-6 weeks. I've had this curriculum nailed down for a few years, and this year decided I wanted to switch things up a bit and try rearranging the order of the topics and changing out a few of them. This would have been easier were it not my first class of the day - doing something new first hour kind of adds some anxiety. Didn't think about that.

I LOVE the scheduling of my Foods class! Having it right after my plan period makes it easy to set up labs, and having Study Hall immediately afterward gives me time to recover put away food, etc.

I have the junior class study hall, all 19 of them. Yep, 19. Half of them go to the area vocational center during the morning though, so those kids don't wind up trickling in until the last ten minutes or so of study hall. And it is in my own classroom, so as long as they aren't being ridiculous I can get some of my own stuff done.

This is the only school I've worked at that doesn't count the passing periods as part of the 30 minute lunch period. It always really bugged me that other schools would - seeing as you're supposed to be in the hallways during passing periods (not to mention letting kids in and out of your classroom), that cuts your lunch down to an actual 22 minutes after taking out two 4-minute passing times.

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (one semester class)
This is our consumer ed course - the state of Illinois requires a consumer ed credit to graduate. I've taught this one at a few schools, but here I teach the only class that meets this requirement, which I am really happy about. One, it means that even though I am an elective teacher I get to meet every student who comes through the school; two, if they choose not to do the work they boomerang right back to me and have to do it the second time through; three, I don't have any second semester seniors who don't need the credit creating senioritis havoc amongst those who do.

CHILD DEVELOPMENT (one semester class)
My undergrad major was in Family & Individual development, so this one is special to me. One new thing I'm doing this is year is ending every class with "story time;" I read a children's book to them every day, modeling how to read/ask questions/make the most out of the learning opportunity when reading to small children. Even the ones who claim to hate it really like it.

This is a great class to end the day with - they need extra clean-up time before the bell to put away supplies, sweep up threads, unplug machines, etc, which gives me time to do a quick straightening of the classroom as well.

School is dismissed at 3:20, and teachers are allowed to leave at 3:30pm. Most nights I don't hang around too long, due to the long drive home. And of course there's always the schoolwork that's accomplished after hours at home, anyway.

And then I start all over the next day!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

FACS Teacher Super Powers!

Here is a picture of the "teacher bag" I have been carrying for the past 14 months:

My husband brought this home from a math conference.

I know it doesn't look like much, but it is PERFECT. Perfect dimensions, perfect strap length, perfect strength, perfect everything. Except it is of course absolutely hideous. Which is a compounded sin when you are a FACS teacher, am I right? So I have promised myself over and over again I would take care of that, but you know how things go. However, this being the last night of the extended break, I decided ENOUGH WITH THE UGLY BAG ALREADY. And, voila!

Now I still have the perfect bag, only now it's perfectly lovely as well! It was also a fun and fairly easy project, so I may do this with one of my classes, we'll see.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Folders Again

Over the summer I was trying to decide between student folders or binders; I went with folders this past semester and really liked it. I also made some modifications on how I managed the folders, so here is a summary of what I've set up for this semester starting Tuesday (school has already been canceled for Tuesday!) Wednesday:

WARNING: This is a long one...

I provide a folder for each student. The folders are color-coded by class. The front of each folder has the student's name, the class name, and a pawprint (for our mascot).

Inside the folder on the first day of class is:
1) Bell work sheet for the week
2) The copy of the syllabus they take home to have signed
3) Grade labels - every week when I return their graded folders, I write their current percentage in the class in the space for that week. Not only do they know exactly what their grade is, but they can tell if they're going up/down and at what pace. Takes care of the kids/parents who tell me "But it was an A- last week - how can it be an F now?" This was the first semester I tried this - the kids LOVED it.
4) A copy of the syllabus to be kept permanently in the prongs of the folder for future reference

Attached to the take-home syllabus is the form for the parent/guardian to sign, and instructions for how to sign up for remind101

Back page of syllabus, plus Folder procedures and expectations. Instead of passing out papers, I tuck them into the folders. Sometimes I put in everything for the week, sometimes just the day - depends on what makes the most sense for that particular lesson.

Students keep work to be graded in the front of their folders, notes/handouts go in the prongs. The day they are due I take about 5 minutes out of class to make sure they know what order their papers in the front pocket should be in, what papers should be placed in the prongs, and allow them to prepare their folders for grading. If they just sit there, ignore me, and turn in a great big mess, I do not treasure hunt; I will not grade it. Now obviously not everything we do is paper-based; a lot of what I return are project rubrics, feedback forms, etc. I grade the folders every week, staple all of the work along with a copy of the itemized grade report together, and place it in the back of the folders. I also write their current percentage on the grade labels.

On Mondays, I take the first few minutes of class to have them look over their grades and their work. If they have any questions or see any errors I may have made, they have that week only to question it (that way they still have the work in question; eliminates the accusations right before report cards that I "messed up" their grade).

The last "first day" page is a summary of the procedures/expectations for when a sub is in the class. These have helped tremendously over the years. This is the last piece of paper that I place in their prongs myself; the rest of the semester they are in charge of placing their notes/handouts in them. High schoolers are much better at operating these prongs that junior high students, but the first few times it's a REALLY good idea to explain how they work AND walk around and make sure they do it right. Seriously. And again, I designate time for them to do this the day the folders are due, so no excuses.

The last thing I set up in their folders are their hall passes. Every student is given two hall passes per quarter to leave the room for any reason (bathroom, water fountain, locker) - that's it. Unused passes can be redeemed at the end of the term, the "rewards" vary. I'd say about 95% of my students this past semester didn't use any of their four passes, so this is very reasonable, at least at my school. 

Folders are kept in a labeled file crate in the classroom. Before class I spread them out on this table which is directly in front of the door as they come in. I write a number at the top left of each folder, so that students can easily find their own without knocking everyone else's on the floor.

When they leave, the kids drop their folders in the crate. I pick up the stack on my way out to hall duty, and put them in numerical order as I rule the halls with the iron fist of justice. I keep the crates below the table, so they're easy to switch out.

If I have a smaller class or two, I combine crates to save space.

This may seem like a lot of work, but here a few things to consider:

1) The first time you assemble the folders, it will take a long time. It will go significantly faster subsequent times, especially since you will obviously recruit students to help you : ).

2) The whole grading/printing grade report/stapling/writing grade percentage routine probably sounds time consuming. I've found it actually saves me a TON of time, and extra hassles.
-I never have to take time out of class to pass out/collect things.
-I never have to worry about keeping track of papers for absent students, because I've already put them in the folders.
-Since all student work is kept in the folders, it has completely eliminated the student claim of "I turned it in! You lost it!"
-Giving the weekly printout eliminates "I didn't know..."; also, it's easy to catch if I make a silly data entry mistake (like when you accidentally input a 20 point assignment as 200 points...).
-I never have kids pestering me to see their grades because they know they will see them the first day of every week. I do have the occasional kid who wants to argue during the last week of the quarter, but they don't have a leg to stand on.
-Filling in the percentage on a weekly basis forces me to stay on top of my grading so I don't get behind.
-More than that, I am ready at a moment's notice for a surprise parent meeting or a last minute invitation to an IEP meeting, because I can just grab the student's folder and show numerical progress over the quarter (since I teach home ec, that's all the parents want to know from me - the grade percentage, nothing about their actual learning). Sad, but true.

Some Random Details
-So far I've only used paper folders, which really only last a semester. Since they only cost 10 cents a piece in August, I don't mind this - I just make sure I buy enough in July/August for both terms, because the price goes up to almost 50 cents a piece the rest of the year.
-There will be kids who somehow manage to completely tear theirs up, even though they never leave the classroom. I make sure the kids know at the beginning of the semester that should such disaster strike, it will be their responsibility to fix the folder or replace it. In the correct color.
-Be prepared for artwork to appear. Perhaps stress that any added decor needs to be school appropriate.

So, that's my folder system. I love it - hopefully there was something in all of this that can help you out!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Dedication. Or Insanity. It's a Fine Line...

Bit the bullet and went in to school today to do a wee bit o' prep.

'Twas a really cold bullet!

As my husband likes to point out, Friday evening heralds in the official end of break - it's just a regular weekend now. 

Have a safe, WARM, and happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Currently January 2014!

Here we go with this month's Currently from Farley!

Listening - Nothing like an outdoor hockey game in snowy weather - puck's moving a bit slow...

Loving - My Master's is almost finished! HOORAY!

Thinking - I love the beginning of a new year, a fresh start, the chance for "the best yet"! Also, REALLY looking forward to the winter Olympics!

Wanting - This break has been pretty fantastic, no doubt. While I do have things to work on I'm trying to limit myself so that I get my full dose of rest and relaxation.

Needing - That being said, tomorrow is going to be my copy-and-set-up day. I want to go in when the building is quiet; also, want to have all the set-up ready so that I can fully enjoy the weekend. I do NOT want to end break with the Sunday Evening Blues!

Tradition - Yes, I am a Resolution Girl! But I do have my limits. I don't make long, crazy lists of things I'll never do or that would take insane amounts of effort/willpower/time/motivation to do. My real resolutions are always one or two regular habits that I would like to establish that I work on throughout the year, with the hope that they will become automatic routines by the end of the 12 months.

Examples from the past:
2009 - Make my bed every day. Seriously, I was really bad about this before. In 2009 I made my bed every. single. day. And now it's second nature.
2010 - Pray every morning. Another success, prompted mainly by a list of 31 daily scripture prayer prompts taped to the inside of my medicine cabinet.
2011 - Set out work clothes every night. This was my first year of marriage, and since my hubs gets up later than I do I didn't want to wake him up searching for a blouse or shoes or whatever. Fabulous habit, saves me SO much hassle in the morning.
2012 - Take a multivitamin every day. Always struggled with this before; making it the 2012 resolution locked it in.

2013 - I'll admit was a fail. I wanted to give blood six times; due to being underweight most of the year, this didn't work out. I also wanted to write in my 10 year journal every day, but slacked on that due to my discouraging job situation.

So for 2014, I'm re-trying the 2013 resolutions. I've got a blood donation appointment set up for this Friday afternoon, and I've been faithful to the journal since the beginning of December, so I am on my way.

Plus, since those are both repeats and the blood thing is not every day or even every month, I'm also adding one - reading the Bible through. I've chosen a one-year Bible plan through an app on my phone, and am planning on reading the daily section over breakfast each morning. Below are pictures of the app and the plan I'm using.


Anyone else out there a fan of small but powerful New Year's Resolutions?