Thursday, March 31, 2011

Decorah Eagles

At lunch today, several of the teachers were talking about the Decorah Eagles in Iowa. There are three bald eagle eggs that are about to hatch. They were laid February 23 and are projected to begin hatching TOMORROW! I showed them to my kiddos after lunch. We were late getting to the Library because they didn't want to leave the eagle. They kept asking me to go back and start the video over again or stop it so we wouldn't miss anything. I don't think they quite got that it was a live stream. Some of them even asked to stay in from recess to watch. Oh..and two of my boys grabbed Bald Eagle non-fiction books to check out from our library.

My kids actually got to see both the male and female eagle as switched incubation duty after we got back to the room from the library. It's so fascinating.

My mom even called me to tell me about it during lunch. She heard that the female had died or been killed(a long while ago) and the male took on another female, but I can't verify that.

Here's the link so you can check it out: Decorah Eagles

Now to find as much information on them as possible to share with my kids tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anchor Charts

Over Spring BreakThe first day of my Spring Break, I read Reading with Intention by Debbie Miller. I made notes while I read the book to make the learning stick and to have note to use when I met with mentor later in the week.

In the book, Debbie mentions several times "anchor charts". She doesn't give any definition of them or anything. Unfortunately, in my ENTIRE teacher preparation/education not one teacher mentioned the term anchor charts. Yes, we made charts, but I had never heard that term. I made a note of it as something to ask my mentor about. She was pretty floored that I wasn't sure what it was (as she was when I couldn't define or explain what shared reading is...thanks University!).

I realized that I was already making them, just not calling them anchor charts. I make them all the time, especially when we are learning new phonics sounds.

Last week and this week, I have challenged myself to make charts that are creative and really help my scholars cement the phonics skills.

Here's my /ie/ pie. I know I could have added words like tried and pried, but I really wanted to keep the words simple for this one. I am definitely not an artist. My scholars think I am. I am pretty proud of it. We're going to make an /igh/ light bulb this week, too. The picture is not the best quality. I took it with my phone.

Brag moment: My sweet, most struggling reader and I have been working one on one for the last month. He's reading 30% of our HFW. I started having him chant the words he doesn't know 5 at a time this week. We have been working on 5 for the last two day, and I am going to add one or two more tomorrow. Today we started a new story. I did a thorough picture walk using the words in the story and tapping into his schema of planting flowers with his mom. While reading the story, he read poke, seeds and holes BY HIMSELF!!! We sounded out the word 'next' together. When he came to the word 'shake', he started sounding it out by himself. As I quickly dealt with a scholar having a melt down, I heard him start with the s and h separate, but then put them together to make one sound. When I got back to him about 10 seconds later, I praised him to for sounding them out and then remembering that they go together. I asked him what he knows when there's an 'e' a the end of the word. He remembered that they say nothing and make the other vowel say the long sound. He put the /sh/, /A/ and/k/ together to say the word. Oh man, he was on point today. SO SO proud of him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skype and the Classroom

I was asked by our technology person if I would like to have my class Skype with a first grade class from Long Island. My one word email response was "Absolutely!"

The kindergarten teacher next to me is going to Skype with her dad (a retired principal) to have him read a story to her class. We had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about making our classrooms more global.

Our kids are urban kids. Their scope is very limited due to their age and their location. My kids and I had a talk about tornadoes and hurricanes two weeks ago. They know all about tornadoes but nothing about hurricanes. I grew up with hurricanes. We didn't get any snow days but would occasionally get one or two hurricane days a year. I showed my kids what a hurricane looks like. we watched a quick video of what it does. I shared some of my experiences--nasty shelters and one time, one of our trees that fell on a neighbor's house. I think I scared them a little, but I assured them they had nothing to worry about because we are no where near any substantial water.

As I was talking to my dad tonight, sharing this news with him, I started thinking of all the possibilities. We know people in England, Nicaragua and all over the US. How much fun would it be to Skype with them!?

I can see the endless possibilities and learning this could bring. Sharing stories and lessons. Getting pen-pals. Seeing what kids do around the world. Sharing culture.

ooooh..It makes me want to start tomorrow!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Grandma Bears + Farts

This last week, we have been working on measuring with non-standard units. I started the week by introducing/refreshing the students on measuring and measuring objects with counting bears.

While meeting with my third small group, one of my most challenging boy...asked me if the bears were the "grandma bears". I looked at him kinda funny and said, "Grandma bears??" He continued to say "Yeah. You know, Grandma bears". I told me I had no idea what he was talking about. One of the other girls at the table chimed in that they were like the ones you eat. The light bulb went off. Teddy GRAMS!

We laughed for about 2 minutes.

These moments I love completely.

I had my scholars sit on the carpet after lunch to explain to them our new math rotations. One of my boys was a little gassy. He let out a couple of loud farts. The standard reaction is lots of "ewwws" and "gross" from the scholars. I remind them that everyone does it, so it's not a big deal. It's definitely not worth a 5 minute interruption. This particular time one of my scholars spoke up to say that everybody farts 14 times a day. I told them I didn't know if that was true. He told me it was because his grandma told him. haha!

They're so great.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Mentor

Every kid needs a mentor. Everybody needs a mentor. - Donovan Bailey

I have been so fortunate that my program of study included a mentor teacher for my first two years of teaching. My mentor happens to be one of my former undergrad professors. I would not have made it through my first year of teaching without her. Seriously.

My mentor taught in an urban school for at least 10 years before moving to the university level. I believe I only had her for two classes, but that was enough. She has simplified the process of education and pedagogy. It amazes me how complicated I make things. I am constantly floored at how easy she makes it.

I have relied on her to help me in the areas where my college education was deficient. Apparently, it's quite a few areas. Most of our conversations include her saying that she cannot believe I did not know anything about a particular strategy or guide.

She has seen me at my absolute worst and still praised me for something that I do well. She has given me strategies that actually work.

She is priceless.

I have the pleasure of writing a letter of recommendation for her as she looks into a different position in the education field.

I am going to truly miss not having her pop into my classroom and check out what is going on. I am infinitely better because of her.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A little introduction...

I decided to separate my teaching stuff from my "personal" blog.

I am a 2nd year teacher. I have been in my school for 3 years. My first year I completed my student teaching internship. In May of that year, I was hired as a first grade teacher. I completed my student teaching internship in the classroom that I have now.

I teach in an urban school district. I have 17 wonderful scholars this year.

Last year, my first year, was the worst year of my life. I only exaggerate slightly when I say I cried my ENTIRE first semester of teaching. I definitely did not have tough skin to handle what was thrown at me.

I had a really good student teaching experience and worked with a fantastic cooperating/mentor teacher. I inherited her classroom as she moved to Special Education.

I definitely entered my first year very excited and ready to go. Unfortunately, I did not prepare enough. I got beat up! I have no idea how I made it through the year. I look back on it as a complete failure. Yes, I learned a lot, but I hated the entire year. I dreaded going every day. I had quite a few kids who were more of a challenge that I could handle.

If it wasn't for my mentors I wouldn't have made it. They held me up when I started to fall. They gave me strategies that worked and gave me loads of encouragement.

I was so thankful to make it through that year.

This year has been a 180 of last year. For that, I am extremely thankful. I have been able to improve my teaching strategies while already having a handle on the management piece. I have a great team to work with this year.

I love First grade.

I hope that this blog will be a documentation of my teaching journey...hopefully full of laughter, learning and love.