Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"The Art and Science of Teaching"

Today I (and the rest of the selected team) finished up our Marzano training. We've had 6 days total of training (broken up into 3 groups of 2 days at time). The training was based out of his book "The Art and Science of Teaching".

I loved, loved, LOVED it. It gave me as a beginning teacher a lot to think about. It has also matched up with what my teaching philosophy is (and is becoming) and other professional texts I am reading/have read.

My team is now in the process of defining our next steps. We're looking at creating a model of teaching/instruction for our school and creating a cohesive language and strategy bank for assisting teachers in being more effective and finding success in the teaching model.

As we had moments to talk about what we were learning yesterday, we came up with a writing strategy to use K-5. Ok. We didn't come up with the 4-Square model, but we looked at how we could use it throughout our school. Those of us in lower elementary (first grade) talked about how to use it in K-1. Those in middle elementary (second) talked about how to transition it to 2-3. The upper elementary (fourth) did the same for 4-5. We talked about how to use it for all types of writing--informative, narrative, persuasive, etc. We even talked about how to use as a graphic organizer in Math and Science. We discussed how even though the amount of writing will differ for each grade level, the process will still be the same. The students will have a cohesive and consistent model to use in their writing/thinking.

It was so much fun!

One frustrating thing was one team member. She seemed uninterested the whole time. So much so that she decided not to attend the afternoon session today. Really?!

We also had conversations about teachers who will give resistance. I know that no where is going to be 100% buy-in. Or maybe it can be?

I want to work in a place where teachers are excited about teaching and improving. I want to be in a place where we have honest and open conversations about what works and what doesn't work. I want to be in a place where teachers are willing to make changes.

I have thought multiple times this year that my current district may not be the place for me. But does the "perfect" place exist? Does the location and issues of my school/district prevent that?

How do you be the change you want to see?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh Monday..

I think a clear indicator of how your day will go is evident when a student throws up 15 minutes into the day.

Whew. It was Monday for sure!

Two of my special friends decided to clown around all day. Seriously, how do you handle a student who should probably be in a self-contained room? He can't do ANY of the work we're doing. Honest. None of it!

Today is was a little daunting even with 4 kiddos out.

Then I ended up being at school until almost 7! I'm out the next two days for a Marzano training. I couldn't seem to get any plans done during my plan time. It was nuts. I would have been out of school earlier, but I spent 30 minutes tutoring one of my sweet boys. He makes me laugh and warms my heart with his unfailing effort.

On the upside, tonight was our celebration for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year teachers. They had a little dinner and certificate for us. I missed it because of tutoring and sub planning. BUT..we got a $15 giftcard to Target! Yay! And the PD Representative is the SPED teacher in our building and my former cooperating teacher while I was student teaching. She dished out an extra card for a couple of us. Completely on the DL, of course. There are perks to knowing some people.

Oh..Major Giveaway at First Grade is Fantabulous! A $25.00 gift card to TPT!! Be sure to check it out!!

Oh..I forgot. Several of my ladies brought me Easter gifts...which included a real hard-boiled egg. So thoughtful. :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Question: Initial Assessments

If you happen to stumble upon this, maybe you can help me out.

About 2 weeks ago, I got a new student. Actually I got 2 new boys a day apart from each other, but one's family has since gotten the clear to head back to Japan where Dad is stationed.

We're about 25 days away from the end of school. (YAY!) My new kiddo is extremely low. I knew this before he came into the room because I saw his report card from his previous school.

Here's my question that came from getting a new student so late in the year. I've gotten 8 new students after school had already started this year.

What assessments do you have in place that help you know exactly where your new kiddo is?

We have DRA's, Early Start Literacy, Star Math and District Common Assessments in Math and Science. As a 2nd year teacher, my assessment resources are a little slim to non-existent. I've talked with my mentor about having an assessment binder sectioned off by quarter and then by subject. I wouldn't even know how to begin putting things in it.

What would give me the most bang for my buck and time?

If you can offer any suggestions or point me in the direction of resources, I would greatly appreciate it. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

ou/ow phonics

Since we were testing last week, I took the time to review our phonics skill from last week. We learned ou and ow as in ouch and owl. My scholars brainstormed a list of words they knew that had the ow/ou sound. (My handwriting stinks without line sometimes, too.)

Here's our Ou/Ow Cloud:

My scholars then had to choose 4 words to write on their clouds. They then cut and pasted them on a piece of construction paper. They had to choose at least one word to use in a sentence. They wrote their sentence on their construction paper and then had to illustrate it.

Here's a couple of my favorites. Sorrythe pictures are bad. My camera and my room lighting do not like each other.
This sentence: "I found a big room in a big house." This is one of my "low" scholars. He still struggles to write without lines but has improved GREATLY!! since the beginning of the year.

This sentence: "I am loud." (and she really is...)

This sentence: "The clown bowed and had a crown and said how did I win first prize." She drew a clown at a clown contest. (one of my high scholars who used all 4 of her words)

As much as I sometimes want my scholar's work to be perfect or neat, I really love their creative, personal expression.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tattles....with update

Testing is OVER!

We can hopefully get back into some recognizable routine tomorrow and the next week before we go back to our regular schedule. I have no idea who decided to change our schedule so drastically. This was NUTS! I want my big plan time back.

My kids have been little tattle tellers all week. It's stupid stuff like "he's looking at me"..."she's wearing her coat". Really?! You need to interrupt me for that.

I tried a tattle jar last year. It didn't curb the tattling like I thought it would, even though we read them during recess.

I've found teachers that have used a stuffed animal, picture of the president or a picture of an ear for their kids to tell their tattle to.

I decided to make mine incredibly labor intensive to hopefully cut down on the tattling.

I'm going to make a Tattle Tales book. The kids will have to write their name, date, what the problem is and how they can solve it. They'll have to write in complete sentences. I'll check the book occasionally and revisit the procedures for writing in the book, as needed. I plan on discussing the different between tattling and telling something important (i.e. somebody's hurt, etc.) Unless my counselor has a book, I'm going to use a video from learn360. Hopefully, this will help.

My kiddos learned the difference between tattling and telling. Honestly, I think I had less tattling. I overheard a few of my kiddos telling each other to go "write it in the book". I'll have to revisit the tattle book format, and I may even have the counselor come in for a follow up lesson---just so they hear someone else say it.

Sad news: My district let go of all of last year's new hires. This included one of my teammates. :( About 15+ first year's in the district were riffed, meaning they may be hired back. I am hoping that my teammate is rehired. I love working with her. We graduated together. If she is not rehired, I hope that we get another outstanding teacher. Whoever it will be, they have big shoes to fill.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Eggs"celent Scholars

My class has been sending encouragements to a 4th grade class as they are also taking our big state test.

The first week of their test, we sent them some Smarties with a little card saying they were smarties.

This week, we sent them candy filled Easter eggs. I made a band/wrapper to go around the eggs that said "You're an 'eggs'celent scholar!". My kiddos colored them, and I wrapped them around the eggs.

Both classes are going to meet up on Friday to celebrate the end of our tests with Popsicles. Hopefully, it won't rain.

Here's the egg band/wrapper.

Monday, Monday.

Can we start summer break on Friday?

We started testing this week. My kiddos did I knew they could but was super stressed that they wouldn't. We went over about 20 minutes, which I think is pretty good since it was our first day. We'll tighten up tomorrow.

My one little friend who has been in our class for 4 days and who is only at a beginning kindergarten level(yikes!) struggled through the test. I figured that he would but was thankful that he didn't have a big meltdown or tantrum. He constantly said that he couldn't do it. I would push him to just do his best and make a choice. He guessed probably 65% of it right.

One of my ladies showed up 5 minutes after testing started. One of my gentlemen has to see the nurse to have his blood sugar checked. We took a break, and he went to the nurse. Turns out his blood sugar was WAY high, and he had to stay longer. What craziness?!

I'm really proud of my scholars. I think I almost cried as I was looking and making sure that they were filling in the circles. I have been very stressed about the test, getting two new scholars in two days, finishing my 2nd year teacher portfolio, lesson planning, end of 3rd quarter grades, planning/strategizing for the 4th quarter and just life in general. I need a break.

Hurry up, Summer!

34 more days to go!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A few of my favorite things....

So, I'm joining up with my first linky party...because I think it will be fun but mostly because I'm completely stressed out. (2 new students in 2 days three days before our big first grade state test. ahhhhhh!!!)

Persnickity Pickles is hosting a non-teaching related linky party. Here are my 7 favorite things::

1. My family. They are the best.

2. music. I love finding new music. I am currently loving Matt Wertz's new album "Weights and Wings".

3. Books! I love just about all books. I have a list of books I want to read. I'm hoping to get a lot of non-teacher books read this summer on my Nook.

4. Old movies: I love Gone With the Wind, Meet Me in St. Louis, Dear Ruth, State Fair and on and on. I can watch them over and over again!

5. BoJangles'. It's not good for you, but I seriously love this stuff. Unfortunately, I can only get it at home. :( I have it at least 3 times when I'm home. Ohh, how I can taste the sweet tea, cajun fries and chicken and the buttery biscuits. yummy!

6.Shoes. Hi. My name is Jana, and I am a shoe addict.

7. Mint Ice Cream. It has to be green.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Free stuff...

Who doesn't love free stuff? I think teachers love it more than anyone else.'s your chance to win some free stuff.

Check out Erica Bohrer's blog or Anna Brantley's blog for a chance to win a super-packed Spring themed math and literacy units. There's a crazy amount of stuff in them!!

You can enter at both blogs for double the chances!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Easter M&M's Graphing

Next week (starting April 11), we start our state testing in K-2. One of the things my scholars will have to do is create a bar graph. We have done this in our classroom during our data unit, but that unit was about two units ago. We will be revisiting it this week.

One of my team members did this activity with her scholars on Friday. I'm going to do it this week. I recreated her sheet to add cute fonts and a little clip art. I plan on adding another response sheet to add more writing.

For this activity, the scholars will have to sort their M&M's, tally how many of each color they have and then create the bars on a graph showing how many of each color they have. And of course, when that is done, they'll eat the candies.

I think my scholars will really enjoy this activity...especially since our schedule is going to be very different starting this week. Not looking forward to that. Oh, and I'll be adding a new scholar to my class. :/

Materials: 1 package of fun size Easter M&M's per scholar

M&M's Sorting Mat
M&M's Graph

These are not the cutest. I really haven't made a lot of worksheets for my scholars. I either already have them or we use construction paper/drawing paper to do our work. Paper is scarce in my school.

It could easily be modified for the "regular" M&M colors. Enjoy!