Oh Yay! Back to School.

Back to School Teacher Humor from The Penisve Sloth

Yes. It’s that time. Back to school season. I honestly love the beginning of the year and getting to meet my kiddos, but I’m not quite ready to start setting the alarm every day.

 

In honor of Lesson Deli–my bloggy buddy group–reaching 1000 fans on Facebook, four of my best-selling resources are only $1.00 this weekend.  If you teach about insect metamorphosis, persuasive text, financial literacy and taxes, or weathering, erosion, and deposition…stock up now!

Visit TPT and use the #bestfansever hashtag to search for other great resources on sale for a buck.  Thanks for being the #bestfansever.

#bestfansever sale July 2016 Lesson Deli

Results From That Silly STAAR Test

Funny STAAR Test Meme

STAAR scores for Texas students finally came out on July 5th.  For 4th grade writing, it literally took 13 weeks.  The other tests took forever, too.  We took the tests in early May and got results in July???  Really.  For reference, it took longer to get STAAR results than it takes to get SAT scores and about the same amount of time as it takes to get bar exam results back.  That’s not the purpose of this post, though.  I thought I’d make some fun graphs to show the growth, or lack there of, from last year to this year across the state of Texas.

Funny STAAR Test Passing Rate Teacher Humor

Here are the scores students need to pass the tests.  In my book, passing is a 70 or above.  On STAAR, you only need to get in the 40s and 50s to pass.  Most of the passing rates went up by one question, except science.  Science stayed the same.  The writing test was also cut in half this year compared to last, but the percentage needed to pass still went up a wee bit.

STAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade

STAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade

Don’t get me wrong…As teachers, when our scores come back, we’re glad that the passing rate is so low. But 48%, really? It doesn’t feel right. And we talk about it.

 

STAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade

So, now we look at whether or not students did better.  The passing rates went up slightly, so that makes it a little difficult to compare.  It would be helpful to know the average score on each test.  I couldn’t find that data.  Here’s how many Texas students passed the tests.

STAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th GradeSTAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th GradeSTAAR Results 2016 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th GradeAnd here are some of my thoughts about this data…

  • Minimal growth at the elementary level between 2015 and 2016.  There were just as many downs as there were ups.  None of them very significant, but it is hard to compare considering that kids had to get one more question right to pass this year.  Plus we have a new publisher running the tests.  Lots of variables in play!  You can read the press release from TEA here.  I wish I could find averages.  I’d love to see those!
  • I’m guessing there is more test prep happening now that publishing companies have had a chance to produce materials.  Necessary, but certainly not my favorite part of the year.  For me, it seems to last from January until May.  And our low SES students get even more of it than our high SES kiddos.  Scores will probably continue to rise slowly because of this.  Plus, teachers can see the released tests now and make sure we are using the question stems.
  • I wonder why they didn’t raise the passing rate for science?  They did for all the other elementary tests. And they said they were going to raise it.  Hmm…

Want to see the data directly from TEA–

In my book, I’ll give the STAAR test a 48% and I guess that’s passing, right?

Funny STAAR Test Meme

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

–The Pensive Sloth

5th Grade Properties of Matter Daily Science Review

Spiral review.  When I think about spiraling through skills, math is the first thing that comes to mind.  But daily review isn’t just for math, it can also be very powerful for science!  Students need repetition and multiple opportunities to engage with content and vocabulary if we want them to hold onto the concepts we are teaching.  Here’s an idea for adding a little spiral review to your science routine.

  1. Give students a copy of this recording sheet.  It’s free to download, just click here.  There are 5 spaces, one for each day of the week.
  2. Display a photo of matter.  This can be anything!  Just do a Google search and show a photo of salt, copper pennies, an iron nail, a helium balloon, a wood popsicle stick, a plastic fork, etc.
  3. Let students talk with a partner and fill out the chart for that type of matter, discussing magnetism, physical state, relative density, solubility, and conductivity.
  4. Finally, share and discuss as a class, having students make corrections on their chart.

5th Grade Properties of Matter Daily Review for STAAR From The Pensive Sloth

If you don’t want to make copies, you can just make an anchor chart with the questions and have students create the chart on a sheet of notebook paper or in their notebooks.  My suggestion is to have them do this in their science notebooks for 2 weeks straight.  Then, once a week for a while.  I think if you did this every day, all year long, it would get old really fast!  Something like this–

Properties of Matter Anchor Chart for Reviewing for 5th Grade STAAR Science

Go forth and teach science!

–The Pensive Sloth

Here comes a shameless plug…If you are interested in a version of this that includes 30 slides of different “matter,” a teacher answer key, and several recording sheet options, you’re in luck!  I’ve got one at TPT and you can find it HERE.  There’s also a challenge question on each slide to get students thinking, and a version of slides as task cards so you can put it in a science station.

Teaching Properties of Matter Daily Review Slides and Task Cards from The Pensive Sloth

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree

Funko Pops.  They’ve been the thorn in my side for several months now.  When we went on vacation this summer, a few came back with us.  When I arrive home after a long day of teaching, there’s often a Pops-sized box on the porch from Amazon or some other online retailer.  I literally can’t escape them because they’ve become my husband’s obsession.  Usually these little guys stay in his office.  It’s one of those unwritten house rules, but when my husband looked less than enthusiastic about putting up the tree this year, I got an idea and decided to make use of the little devils.

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Pops Lined Up and Ready to Go On the Tree

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The first challenge was finding a way to hang them on the tree without *damaging* them (Mr. Pensive Sloth insisted upon this).  Luckily we had some pipe cleaners around.  I tried wrapping the wire around their scrawny necks, but they just fell over.  The same thing happened when I wrapped it around their torsos.  The little buggers are so top heavy, that everywhere I tried to hang them from just resulted in a Pop facing down.  I thought I was onto something when I decided we’d just hang them all up by their tiny feet and have upside down Pops all over the tree.  I was quite fond of this idea, but it was quickly vetoed.

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Sloth Hangin Upside Down

I’d almost given up when I figured it out.  Cue 90s pop song…”This is how we do it…”  Here are the steps from the photograph (below):

  1. Gather a Pop and a pipe cleaner.  We had white and they matched our tree, but if your tree is green, consider green pipe cleaners so they blend in.
  2. Fold the pipe cleaner in half and put it around the neck with the open part in the back.
  3. Twist the two ends together close to the neck.
  4. Bring the sides up around the head of the Pop, near where the ears would be.
  5. Twist the two ends very tightly together at the top so they don’t slide back and forth.
  6. Hang on the tree!  There is usually enough left to twist around a branch, but if there isn’t you can make a hook out of a small piece of pipe cleaner and attach this to the one around the head.

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth How to Turn Pops Characters into Christmas Ornaments

NOTE:  This doesn’t work for all Pops.  Some heads are bigger than others, some have decorations on their already enormous heads that prevent a pipe cleaner from going around easily, etc.  On a few of the big ones, I did the same thing after twisting two pipe cleaners together.  You just have to be creative if you really want it on the tree.  Or give up and choose a different Pop.  We did that too sometimes.  As you can see, we also have a fake Christmas tree, so the branches are pretty strong and can be bent around to support the pops.  Some of these little guys are crazy heavy for their size, so if you’ve got a real tree, test a few out first.

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Merry Popmas Goonies, Marvel Superheroes, and Robin Hood

Notice how the little Pop families stay together…

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth with Ghostbusters and Regular Show

Getting the pipe cleaner around Slimer wasn’t so easy…

Overall it was a lot of fun!  We got into a rhythm where I added the pipe cleaners and my husband carefully placed each Pop on the tree.  He enjoyed making sure the characters stayed with their bonded Pop families.  Here’s the final product!

Funko Pop Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Christmas Tree Ideas

If you’ve got children or a husband with a wild collection of small objects (Pops, superheroes, dolls, toy cars, Beanie Boos, etc.), why not turn it into something fun and make a themed Christmas tree?  Share your ideas and experiences below.

Now, you may be wondering how this is related to teaching.  It’s not, but was so much fun that I had to share!  Of course if you have a bunch of Pops around and want to do this in your classroom, I’m sure your kiddos would love it (make sure to use school-friendly Pops!).  I did get an idea that I plan to have the kiddos start on next week.  A favorite character theme Christmas tree.  More info on that coming soon!

–The Pensive Sloth

Funko Pops Theme Christmas Tree from The Pensive Sloth Christmas Tree Theme Idea

Christmas Memes for Teachers

Thanksgiving break has been delightful!  A whole week to…do laundry, cook, catch up on housework, clean out closets, fix the dishwasher, replace a door, and of course sleep in, Netflix, spend time with the family and eat yummy food.  But on Monday, it all begins again.  Are you ready?

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Brace Yourself Christmas is Coming

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme Christmas Crafts Glitter Scrap Paper Glue Everywhere

Teacher Humor from The Pensive Sloth Teacher Meme I'm Going to Need You To Line Up Again

Good luck.  May the force be with you.  Stay strong.  We’re all depending on you.  You can do it!

–The Pensive Sloth