Five for Friday…January 8th

**Happy first week back to school!**

I hope your week was as awesome as mine was! I’m going to share some of the things that made this week awesome. I introduced a couple of flexible seating options to my students (working our way up to full immersion into flexible seating), I have my whole week planned for next week without doing any work at home, I participated in a really fun weekly blab, I found some fun ways to teach Responsibility to my students, and I’m finishing a really fun fiction book and am about to begin an awesome book that you have to check out!

If those sound like things you’d like to read more about… buckle your seat belt, because we’re going to run through them quickly (I know we all have things to do and places to be).

Five for Friday doodle bugs teaching

 

 

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Not long into the start of the year I realized that I had a very active class of students – they find it difficult to stay in their seats, to keep still, and focus. Our P.E. teacher is amazing, and she helped me get floor pedals, and our Special Ed department helped me get a hold of some busy bands (they are like exercise bands that you put around a student’s chair or desk for them to bounce their feet on). I also used a couple of extra desks as “standing desks” – for students to work at standing up. They’re not any higher than regular desks though.

You may have read about my Donor’s Choose project last week – but this week I decided to add a couple of additional alternative seating options, while we wait for the project to be funded.

I brought in an extra yoga mat I have and a lap desk that I never use. I also taught my students about stacking their blocks and showed them the different ways they can improve their posture while sitting, standing, or laying on the floor. I told my students they could sit/lay anywhere on the floor during independent work, as long as their blocks are stacked. Another option is to sit/lay under their desks and to use an extra blanket I had to curtain off the underneath of their desk to help them focus. They can use the lap desk, the yoga mat, the pillows we have, clipboards, etc.

I hope to add additional options this week – I want to lower another extra desk I have, so that there is an option to sit on the floor and use a desk. I also want to see if there is any possible way to raise the two desks I allow students to stand at, to emulate standing desks.

My students definitely love laying under their desks. Here are the students taking a reading quiz yesterday. The student quote in the picture was said during Math, when we have students from other classed come into our room. I did not have to explain anything, my students told them why they’re allowed to lay on the floor, and they did a great job modeling the correct way to do so.

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One of my goals for this year is to get into a zone with regard to productivity and focus – so last week I planned out every aspect of my time. My time at home, my time in the morning at school, and my planning time at work.

I was determined to plan an entire week of lessons during school time. I am proud to say MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!! The only thing I have not planned (with resources saved and activities planned) is guided reading. But, my mornings are actually only dedicated to “prep” work for the day, so I could plan each day’s lesson in the morning.

I knew I could accomplish this, because last Sunday I set a 30 minute timer for each of the subjects I teach, and planned a week’s worth of lessons in that time – so when I assigned a subject to spend time planning this week – I made sure I allocated at least 30 minutes for that subject. I also assigned time for grading. I assigned this time using my google calendar – which syncs with my phone – so that it’s easy for me to stay on track.

Don’t get me wrong – I still have some work to do at home this weekend, but I’m determine to minimize it and only spend at the most 2 hours on the weekend doing school work.

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Last Saturday I participated in my second blab! If you’re not sure what blab is – you’ve got to check it out. Especially if you are on periscope and love it as much as I do. I love periscope, but I find that it’s difficult for me to come out of my shell when I’m “by myself” or the only one talking. I’m a shy extrovert, so it usually takes me a little while to feel comfortable being 100% myself around people. On blab you can be online with up to 3 other people – similar to Skype or a Google Hangout, except it’s like periscope in that other people can tune in and participate via the comments. Also – if only 3 seats are filled on a panel, the open seat is usually left open so viewers can call in and participate in the discussion too.

The blab I participated in is Craft & Chat with Jamie. It’s a weekly blab where teachers will get together and create something fun. Last week we created paintings of our word of the year. There is one finishing touch I need to add to mine, but I’ll add another picture when I do that.

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Like many schools, our school has adopted a character curriculum and we teach it during morning meeting every day. We take one character trait a month and do a variety of activities and lessons with the students to help them understand what it means to exhibit that character trait and why it’s important.

This month we are focusing on Responsibility and we did two really fun activities: What’s on Your Plate? and Fill the Jar.

First, for What’s on Your Plate? – students had to think about all the things they are responsible for, they also thought about the things that they like to do for fun. Then, we did the Fill the Jar activity so they could understand the importance of prioritizing. When we take care of our responsibilities first, we have time for the fun stuff. You can check out this activity here, it’s a freebie in my store!

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Last, I’d like to share the books I’m reading or getting ready to start reading. I am about to finish 11/22/63 by Steven King.

51gir4mu2b2l-_sx321_bo1204203200_It’s a really good book and if I wasn’t so busy trying to focus on work and blogging, etc – I believe I would have finished it in a couple of days. There is a Hulu 6 part series getting ready to start in February, which I am very excited about! Have you read this book or seen the trailer for the series? What are your thoughts?

 

I plan to start reading Crash Course by Kim Bearden (the co-founder of Ron Clark Academy) tomorrow. I’ve heard great things about the book, and I love Kim!

518ly3ayxtl-_sx327_bo1204203200_If you want to keep up to date on what I’m reading – you can always check the goodreads info on my side bar —->

 

How was your first week back? Have you got a planning schedule in place that works for you? I’d love to hear about it. Do you use flexible seating? What professional development book are you currently reading, or dying to read? I hope you had an amazing first week back, and that the second week is even better!!! 

If you’d like to join the 5 for Friday blog link up, you can click the Five for Friday image at the top of this post.

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How I plan to make 2016 top 2015

January 2gether we are betterOnce upon a time there were two passionate teachers. They shared both a passion for teaching and a passion for creating TPT products. One day, they went on an exciting adventure all the way to Vegas to explore the TPT conference. While they were there they stumbled upon a magical app called Periscope. Periscope made these teachers a little nervous, but it kept calling their names… so, they kept scoping and sharing the excitement from the conference with other teachers in lands far away. Soon… they had started what I like to call #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. When the teachers had returned from their adventure, they decided that teachers need to be more connected – to learn from one another. And so… the #2getherwearebetter blog link up began.

This month we are discussing our plans and goals for 2016.

Incorporate MORE technology (1)

Something that I’m really passionate about, is implementing and using technology in the classroom. I have recently started having my students use the SMARTboard during Math rotations. I have purchased some awesome digital interactive notebooks from the amazing Danielle Knight. I did 1 hour of code with my students, which was awesome! I use Edmodo for guided reading extension lessons/questions/quizzes.

But, I know that I could still do so much more – so my goal is to (first – use the digital interactive notebooks I bought, then) try one new app or website or technology tool a month. Here is one example of an app/website that I think would be awesome for collaboration in the classroom. Padlet is a bulletin board type website, where users can add posts, photographs, voice notes, videos, or files. Whoever creates the padlet can make it private and just share the url with people he/she wants to collaborate with.

Hey — let’s make it official…. I always work better when I have people counting on me. So, I’ll start doing a monthly blog post reviewing the new app/website that I tried out, and how it went in my classroom!

periscope more

I love periscope and always enjoy it when I get on and start scoping…however, I always psyche myself out. My self doubt creeps in “you don’t have anything worthwhile to share” “no one is going to watch”…etc etc.

But, my word of the year is ZONE (more on that later) – so I am going to burst out of my comfort zone this year and just do it. I’m going to be 100% me, and trust that I am worth knowing and that I do have something to offer. It might not be the same type of thing other people have to offer – but that’s even better! I’m one of a kind – as are you! So don’t hold back this year! Put yourself out there with me, be vulnerable and let’s push the boundaries of our comfort zones together!

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As you can see – I am off to a running start, but we all know the beginning of the year is “easy” in terms of keeping up with new goals – but I have a plan for this… which I’ll share in a minute. Blogging has always been something I enjoy – I’ve had 3 blogs in my life. I keep my family in South Africa updated with my adventures in the USA with a weekly blog. I did that for 2 years and then my blogging slowed down quite a bit, finally when I started teaching, it passed away peacefully in its sleep. About 6 years ago I started a very personal blog about my struggles with infertility – but gave it up after about a year because I chose to step away from that community because it was holding me back from finding happiness in the present. Now… I’m trying to get into a groove with blogging about teaching – which I can honestly say is my life’s passion and calling.

**I just watched an awesome periscope by Bri Miller about the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. Bri mentioned how our fear of not fitting in can hold us back from truly being ourselves or putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable. She also spoke about how we are all vulnerable in different ways – some people may be able to connect with others via video, or in person, or through blogging. I totally had an “ah ha” moment. Being truly vulnerable on periscope is hard for me, but here… on my blog – it is so easy. I am so grateful for that scope tonight – because it made me realize that we truly are all different, and even the way we connect with people could be different, and it’s okay – it’s actually more than okay, it’s something to celebrate! Our differences! **

small goal

This is a small goal because I’m not 100% sure yet if TPT is going to be something I commit a lot of time to. I haven’t spent enough time on making products to really know. So, really my goal is to make more products to see if this is something I am good at, and enjoy. I’m going to start by making products that I need for my students, and see how it goes from there. I’ve already made 2 simple products today to use with my students next week – I just need to make covers, etc and I can post them. I’ll be happy with 2 quality products a month to start with. Once I get into a groove, I hope to be able to exceed that goal.

Plan

  • Single tasking (focusing on one simple task at a time for an allocated number of time – this is a great app for this!)
  • Using a notebook to record ideas and inspriations
  • goal sheet to set weekly goals
  • Using my phone’s calendar to schedule all social media chats, weekly or monthly periscopes and blabs as well as gym classes, lesson planning and time for ME!! I am going to use this to also plan out some periscopes – to ensure that I have no excuse not to scope more often!

My new monthly blog about technology will help keep me accountable for trying something new every month. Maybe I’ll make it a link up… except I’ve never done that before, and not sure how to, or if it’s even possible with WordPress…if you know – I’d love you forever if you let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d be interested in joining a link up like this – let me know.

I also started a Facebook group with some other teachers to help share blog ideas and to keep one another accountable for blogging at least twice a month. If you are interested in joining the group – just let me know and we can connect.

New Year Blog Challenge

The last thing I want to share is my #otw (one little word) for 2016. Ali Edwards started this project, on her website she says “[in] 2006 I began a tradition of choosing one word for myself each January – a word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life.” Here is my word for 2016 – it reflects how I want to not be afraid to be vulnerable and how I want to be more productive and goal focused.

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Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining our #teacherblogchallenge2016 facebook group. Also, if you would be interested in joining a monthly link up to share your experiences trying some new technology in your classroom, let me know. I’d also love to hear what your goals are for 2016! 

>>If you’d like to join the link up – click the banner at the top of this post.

 

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Five for Friday… January 1st

**Happy New Year!**

I am so excited for everything this year holds for me and for YOU!! Yes YOU!! You are going to do amazing things this year! For this five for Friday I wanted to share some of the things I wish I had known as a first year teacher, or at least earlier in my career. 

Five for Friday doodle bugs teaching

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Is there a scholastic warehouse near you? You would know because they would advertise big sales. You can also check for sales here. If there aren’t any sales right now, you can register and get emails when there are sales – you can do that here.

Why should you care about this? Well… when I first started teaching, I spend hundreds of dollars on books for my classroom. Then I even did a donors choose project for more books – which was great and very helpful. But…I will never hardly ever spend another dollar on a book for my classroom. Here’s why:

Whenever there is a scholastic warehouse sale, they have volunteers work the event. Volunteers are “paid” in credit to spend at the sale. I also have a lot of fun volunteering at these events – getting to know the books that are available, chatting to people about books… etc. I have been able to not only build up my classroom library (and sometimes my personal library too) but also get enough books to give to my kids for birthdays and Christmas.

Classroom library

This was my classroom library at the beginning of the year- more books have been added since.

If you are interested, make sure you check the “volunteer” box when you register for the events – here is the link again. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me – I’ll help in any way I can.

 

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When I was a first year teacher – let’s be honest- I was just trying to make sure I was teaching the curriculum and my kids were learning, while building relationships and learning…. always learning. But, one thing that I did need to do on occasion, was create an assessment or worksheet for my students (that was not already created on teachers pay teachers (tpt) or such).

I created these assessments on Microsoft Word using the standard fonts. I had no idea that Powerpoint is actually MUCH easier and user friendly. Also – there are so many free fonts and free graphics on tpt (just make sure that you review the terms of use if you want to sell any of your creations).

To make it even easier – I already did the search for you! If you need to know how to install and use fonts – let me know in the comments I’ll be happy to share on a future blog post. Same goes for more details about using PowerPoint to create materials for your classroom (or to sell).

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Do you have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom? If you don’t – you should totally do a Donors Choose project for one (more about Donors Choose coming up) – they’re awesome!!

Did you know you can create PowerPoints to use on the interactive whiteboards? You did? So it’s just me that is behind on the times? That’s okay. Did you know that you can get products on tpt to use on your interactive whiteboards? Well, you can, and there are some for free too!!

I highly encourage finding some meaningful activities to use during centers or rotations — don’t be the only one who touches the board in your classroom. I have some ways to manage this with small groups of students using one board independently during a rotation – I’ll share in a future post.

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Donors Choose….. have you heard of it? Have you ever submitted a project? It really is an amazing organization – and I’ve learned so much about promoting a project from some teachers on social media.

First – I have a project right now, it’s a big one, but I’m almost half way there already! I kept putting it off, because I knew it would be asking a lot – but I’m so glad I did it. I’m still surprised by the generosity of people, especially people who do not even know me or my students. But, what’s been the most rewarding is seeing my students fired up about it. They’ve even donated a dollar here, five dollars there – they’ve been inspired by the generosity of strangers and that is something special to see.

If you’d like some help promoting your product, I’d be happy to share the tips that have been graciously shared with me – just let me know.

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These are the resources we are asking for – click the image for more information.

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The last item on my agenda is TPT etiquette – which could be a whole blog post on it’s own, but I’d rather do a shortened version here…so, at lightning speed…here it is:

  • When you download a free product, the seller who took the time to create that product would really appreciate it if you could follow his/her store and provide feedback on the free product. Many sellers make items free to get some feedback, especially if you snag the item on sale or as a flash freebie.
  • Provide feedback, whether it’s free or not- there’s nothing not many things worse (as a seller) than seeing that people have purchased your product, but you have no feedback for it. Please let us know how you like the product, and now – TPT gives you points towards store credit for giving feedback for paid purchases – so it’s a win-win!!
  • Lastly — please stop sharing paid products with your teacher friends. It’s against the law, and poor etiquette. I know you may feel like you can’t say no to your team mates or teacher friends, but we need to change the culture of how teachers treat TPT product copyrights. If you know you can’t help but share with your team – buy extra licenses for products…Most extra licenses are half the price of the full price item, so a $1.00 product becomes a $2.50 product – which is not that bad. This should be a conversation you have with your team at the beginning of each year – share the policy with your team and agree to always purchase additional licenses for products – you can also go and purchase additional licenses after the fact.

Okay – that’s it, I’m off my tiny soap box… but I hope you’ll consider helping me change the conversations and culture of how bargain TPT buyers treat sellers. (I share this taking full responsibility for my past mistakes in these regards – but once you know better, you can do better, right?)

SO… are you ready to register as a volunteer at a local Scholastic Warehouse? (If you sign up, someone will email before an event and ask if you want to do it, so there is no commitment yet) Yes YOU!! Will you try to get your students using your interactive whiteboard more often?  How about Donors Choose, would you like tips for promoting your projects? 

No matter what – I hope you’re as ready as I am to make 2016 AMAZING!! I  don’t know about you, but I can’t wait…

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So long 2015…the year I found myself

Reflecting on 2015

 

This year has been such a blessing… It’s definitely one that will go down in the books, along with the year I came to the USA, and the year I got married.

On Tuesday I did a periscope (@bonbrad) challenge, which was started by the always insightful The Whimsical Teacher. I’ll use a similar format for my reflection here.

Things that went well in 2015

Connecting with teachers via Periscope and Twitter

So many things have come from #theperiscopeteachertakeoverof2015. I was able to connect with like-minded teachers from all around the world. Through these teachers’ generosity and support, I’ve realized that I can accomplish great things! I’ve always sat on the sidelines and thought “I don’t have anything worthwhile to offer on tpt” or “anything I write on a blog will never help other teachers” or “the classrooms I’ve seen around here aren’t like THAT..I can’t do that”  or “teachers here don’t do things like that”.

Thanks to connecting with these teachers I now believe in myself and my potential as a teacher and a lifelong learner. I have started to step out of my comfort zone and started pushing myself towards greatness (I still have a very long way to go). But, I have found my tribe!

Now, not only are these teachers providing me with support and self confidence – but they are full of some AMAZING ideas!!! I’m constantly learning from them and being inspired!

Discovering the Ron Clark Academy (RCA)

Ron Clark was Disney teacher of the year ages ago, and appeared on Oprah after that. There was a movie made about him, starring Matthew Perry (it’s a must watch and definitely a tear jerker). He started his own school in downtown Atlanta Georgia – and it is the type of school all teachers DREAM about working at. There is an app and some of the amazing teachers who work there have blogs and are on periscope! Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans) and Kim Bearden (co-founder of RCA) are two of my favorites. This school and Ron’s journey are a huge inspiration to me – to be bold and not hide my passion! When you think of people who think/teach outside of the box — these teachers think/teach outside of this galaxy!!

Finding a balance

It is my third year teaching and my second year as a 4th grade teacher. My first year was pretty stressful on me and my marriage. I spent a lot of late nights at school and said yes to any and all social invitations (when you don’t have any friends (besides your hubby) within thousands of miles, you’ll do anything to connect). My second year I spent very little extra time at school… I was inspired by another teacher to just leave work after work. Two things made this easier to do: I was in a portable, which is scary when it gets dark, and we had planning in the morning, before any instructing – so there was little pressure to work after hours. I still accepted any and all social invitations. This year… I have found a much better balance – I only stay late twice a week at the most, and I still don’t do as much work at home as I did in my first year. I am a much happier teacher this year!!

Things that did not go well in 2015

Blogging

Even though I created this blog over the summer, and promised that I was going to be more present here, I failed miserably! I have not posted once since the school year started – and so many things have been happening in my room!!

Inspiration overload

I have been inspired by so many teachers and have had so many great ideas “coming at me” this summer and at the beginning of the school year, that I think I have been a little frozen. I’ve definitely tried a lot of things and have had great success – but I’ve also not put as much effort into my lesson planning as I should. I think I’ve been trying so many cool things that I started to think “hmmm… you know what, I try my best and work very hard, that’s all I can offer – my best.” But in reality, I have a lot more to offer and I’ve not been trying my absolute best. 

Jack of many trades, master of none

I feel like my love of learning can sometimes be a bad thing. If I don’t channel my energy, I take on way too much. This year I joined the gym, I started (and stopped) running, I started playing around with hand lettering and doodling, I started a tpt store, I tried to start this blog, I set a reading goal (to read 50 books)… I am not good at any of that stuff #yet!! I think if I had focused on one thing – I would have at least mastered it enough to then take on another new adventure. 

People who inspired me this year

  • Amy Harris (She is such a genuine person and has been amazing in terms of welcoming me into her circle of friends. She has also inspired me in so many ways – as a teacher, a learner, and a person.)
  • Hope King (I mentioned her earlier – she is SUCH a passionate teacher who has helped me understand and accept that it is okay to “bring your work home”. She has also changed the way I look at lesson planning…she’s the teacher I want to be when I grow up.)
  • The Whimsical Teacher (I also mentioned her earlier, but Jess is such a unique person and spirit. She has such a kind heart and is so generous and supportive of people. I have learned so much from her with regard to tpt, teaching, and how to be 100% you – no matter what. She is definitely my cup of tea, and I will take a bottomless cup thank you very much!!)
  • Sheila Jane (This woman is a power house. She is support epitomized. She is the biggest teacher cheerleader. I’m not sure how she fits everything she does into her schedule, but she pops up constantly, cheering teachers on and encouraging them relentlessly. She makes me feel like I can make a difference by encouraging other people – one person can make a HUGE difference via social media.)
  • Mr. Chris Wooleyhand (He’s a local principal here and we met at an EdCamp – he insisted **cough** I mean encouraged me to get back into twitter, and I haven’t looked back. Twitter chats have helped me connect and collaborate with both local and distant teachers who may not be on periscope. He’s also super supportive and encouraging – making me feel like I have some insight worth sharing. He even asked me to collaborate on a blog he wrote, which meant a lot to me.)
  • Brenda Schoener (I did not know Brenda well, I only met her a few times – but her legacy is such an inspiration. Again, she proves that one person can make a significant difference in the lives of many people. She passed away a month ago after a long battle with cancer. I got to know her better through the stories her children shared at the memorial as well as the photographs that were shared. I also learned that she had a love for feathers…and I have always loved feathers, but could never really explain why. Now- this love (and all the feathers I’ve collected) will forever be a reminder of this Godly woman and her legacy.)

 

Thanks for joining me as I reflected on 2015… to find out how I plan to learn from my mistakes of 2015 (aka the things that did not go well), you’ll have to tune in on January 2nd. I’ll be linking up with Ashley and Angie for the #2getherwearebetter January blog post.

Before you leave… what is something that went well for you in 2015? Something that did not go well? And who inspired you this year?

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Five for Friday

Five for Friday doodle bugs teachingI’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday…. my first one!

Five for friday 1Something that has occupied most of my week has been Teachers Pay Teachers. I got 3 sales this week – my first sales ever!! Which made me feel pressure to improve the product, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to make the Homework Binder Inserts editable so that teachers could personalize it to match their homework policies. I’ve finished it and am just waiting to hear back from a seller whose product I would love to include in the pack. As soon as I hear back, I will post the revision!

**revision is up**

Here is a sneak peak in the meantime! Homework Binder preview watermarkedI also added a math homework menu, for those days/weeks when things get crazy and you can’t run worksheets or find a valuable activity that students can complete independently. As well as an extra spelling menu – I plan to switch out the menu half way through the year to change things up.

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lettering

I love to draw and doodle, and hubby even bought me these awesome pens and black notebook for Valentines Day this year. I haven’t done much in the book, partly because of time, and partly because of hesitation and fear I guess. BUT….not anymore!!! I watched one of my favorite periscopers yesterday and she did a quick lettering tutorial – which totally inspired me!! She recommended this youtube channel and I’ve already watched a couple of the lettering tutorials. I’m totally hooked, and cannot wait to “fancy up” my anchor charts and other classroom posters, etc!!

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I was lucky enough to attend the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence this summer, for the second year in a row. Once again – I’ve come away with so many great ideas!! Last year I focused on two things, explicitly teaching grit and trying to incorporate teaching strategies that would help boys succeed in the classroom. They were my 2 biggest takeaways from that year.

This year, I have a three BiG takeaways:

#1 Providing consistent and meaningful feedback

#2 Keep students engaged in their learning through reflecting on objectives, learning, and effort.

#3 Pacing (which goes hand-in-hand with student engagement)

Providing timely feedback can be the most challenging thing for a teacher – especially when you have more than 20 students (which is not often the case in our Title 1 school). The presenter of the session on feedback said that it has been scientifically proven that in order for feedback to be meaningful – you have a 2 day window. Otherwise, the student will actually have to relearn the material as opposed to simply making corrections or clarifying their understanding.

With this, and takeaway #2, in mind, I created goal accounting templates (I like to call them student objective tracking/reflection recording sheets, because that is what they are.) This will help provide 1 of 3 types of feedback – reflective feedback. Expert feedback is provided by the teacher, and clarifying/indirect feedback is peer feedback (which you could have students engage in during turn and talk).

I plan to make the goal sheets part of my every day routine to either have the students jot down the objective, or provide them with it on a label to stick in (if I know I’ll be short on time). Students then rate their level of understanding, between 1 and 4. After the lesson, they go back and rate their effort (1-4) and their level of understanding now. Eventually they will record their assessment results for that objective/goal.

Below is an example of different ways students could write the objective – they do not need to write the whole thing out if you’re pressed for time or have students who struggle writing neatly.

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This picture was taken a week ago – at my bestie’s wedding! It was such a fun-filled day and night!!

My number 4 is my fourth grade team. I work with ladies that I can truly call some of my best friends!! I love each of them as people and professionals. We are all so different, and have different styles of teaching, but we work so well together. I dread the day that we get separated, which is probably inevitable…. but, until that time comes – I pledge to enjoy every day working with them and learning from and with them!!

five for friday 5  My number 5 is simple: Periscope!

Periscope has changed my life. And I don’t say that to sound dramatic, I’m serious!! I’ve followed teacher blogs before and follow teachers on instagram, etc…. periscope is different. It makes the people behind the blogs and instagram accounts real…

Through watching teachers on periscope, I have realized my own personal gifts and talents as a teacher. It has given me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I didn’t think were “for me” – such as teachers pay teachers, a teacher blog, hand lettering….

It has also given me the freedom to really push myself and be the best I can be. When you’re in your own teaching bubble, it can be difficult to push yourself. I know that for me, at my school (and I’m sure it’s the same at many of your schools) the job is so challenging and emotionally draining because of the wonderful little people we teach. Teaching is only the tip of the iceberg with these kiddos. That being said, there is a culture of “you have to take care of yourself” or “I can’t put extra time into this job, i have a family/life/stress that needs attention” at schools. Sometimes this makes me feel like I shouldn’t be putting in extra effort – because it’s not the norm…. and I’m not saying that we should put our jobs before our families, or our own mental, physical, or emotional health…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly LOVE teaching, I LOVE planning, I LOVE going to professional developments, I LOVE trying new things/intiatives in the classroom, I LOVE it all….. so why should I feel guilty for putting in extra time and effort?

Periscope has connected me with many like-minded teachers (not that there aren’t any at my school — there are plenty!!) who are wonder women! They give me hope that I too can find a balance between being the best teacher I can be, and having a separate life!

If you’re still reading – thank you!!

Please let me know what you think in the comments – I’m interested to know if I’m the only who feels/felt this way!

Have a great weekend!!

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My Best Back to School Tip Linky Party

back to school blog post

I’m linking up with Christina at Hanging Around in Primary and Katie at Pop Into Primary for this linky party!

Teachers report back to work on August 17th – so we have 15 days of summer break left! *Cue sad soppy music…*

No…not really. I’m excited to go back and try some new things in my classroom. I’m also really excited to get a new class of students and to build new relationships. Anyway – on to my tips.

I haven’t had much time for planning this summer, after attending the ASCD Teaching Excellence Conference, working summer school, and then being a bridesmaid in my best friend (and teammate’s) wedding, I am only now getting started on school prep. There are 3 things that I have done that have made me feel so much more prepared than I was a week ago.

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I planned my first day with the following considerations:

  • Supply Collection
  • Student Interest Surveys (something for the students to work on while you collect supplies)
  • Team Building Activities
  • Class Expectation Activity (include the students in the rule making)
  • Embed Routines Throughout the First Day/Week (which requires that you plan your routines ahead of time and purposefully plan your activities and transitions around these routines, so that the students can learn them in context and can practice them. For intermediate grades, consider creating a document that outlines your classroom routines. This will be especially useful for new students who join your class during the school year).

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I created a list of each subject that I teach and considered my teaching style and the procedures I plan to use for each subject. Using this, I decided what supplies the students will need for each subject area. I also planned out where we would store each of these notebooks/folders/etc.

I really like to stay organized and want to teach my students to be organized too. Messy student desks are one of my biggest pet peeves, and one of the most inevitable situations in elementary school. I want to be proactive when it comes to helping my students keep organized. “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is a mantra I hope to teach my kids this year! 😛 I might be setting us up for failure, but you never know until you try. So I’m going to try.

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Homework can be so frustrating – students lose things they forget things…. it can be so painful. So this year, I wanted to be ready and prepared to help eliminate all excuses!

I am going to set up homework binders/folders (enough for each student, at least 5 new students, and a few extra for those students who are going to misplace theirs). Last year students had a take home folder and a spelling notebook, they would do spelling homework in their notebook and they would take math homework home in their take home folder. I wanted to have students do reading homework, but I didn’t have a good system and wanted to make sure it was meaningful.

So, I create some binder inserts to organize these homework binders with. The inserts are as follows:

  • A cover
  • Slide2A page outlining homework expectations
  • Spelling homework menu (students will choose an appetizer on Monday, entree on Tuesday, and dessert on Wednesday. On Thursday they will take a practice test). There will be some lined paper after this insert for students to complete their spelling homework on.
  • Reading homework questions, 12 for fiction and 12 for non-fiction. Students will choose 1 question a week. These questions are based on the third grade common core standards. Although I teach fourth grade, I want to make sure students can complete their homework independently, so it is more of a review and practice. Again, there will be lined paper after this insert for students to answer questions on.
  • Reading Log. Students will be expected to read for 20 minutes every night and record their reading on a log. I will include 2-3 copies of this log in each binder.
  • The last insert is just a Math Homework cover. My intention is to have this insert in a sheet protector – so that students can place their math homework in the sleeve for safe transportation to and from home.
  • I am considering adding (updating/revising) the inserts to include a “keep at home” and “please return” inserts, also to go in sheet protectors. I may also include exemplar examples of each activity – to really eliminate any question of expectations and to help parents be clear on my expectations for homework. Let me know what you think?

Slide1Don’t forget – the Teachers Pay Teacher’s Back to School Sale is August 3-4. Up to 28% off select products!

Use the code BTS15

What do you do to get ready for a new school year?

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