Monday, October 31, 2011

Yet Another "Wha Wha Whaaaat?"

I am a teacher who is willing to do anything it takes for my students. I want them to learn in the best environment possible. I want them to excel. However, I feel I have been thrown in a lot this year. And it is all out of my comfort zone. First, were the centers. I am quite comfortable doing those now. I have no issues with those and I'm glad I had to do them. Now, it is more individualized/differentiated instruction. With so much emphasis placed on value-added, this is the only way our students can truly gain a years growth. It makes full sense. If boy can't read at a fourth grade level, why continually give fourth grade stories for him to read. It only frustrates him and eventually causes him to give up. This entire concept is new to me. It seems so overwhelming. I have to find 4-5 pieces of work for EACH day?!?!?! Thankfully I have two absolutely wonderful teachers who teach reading with me that have been lifesavers. They are more geared to teach this way so it comes naturally for them. I have no idea what I would do without them.

Today was the first day of this new instruction. We were teaching Fact and Opinion. First teaching as a whole and then different leveled worksheets were passed out. This was done today despite me having to miss it :( I was sick at home, in bed. I came down with a possible strand of the flu late Saturday night and there was no way I was going to school today. I am not one that misses school so it was killing me to be at home today. Thankfully, I am feeling better and will be returning to school tomorrow.

Because I am so OCD, this is my very clean and organized desk. I am sure when I get back to school tomorrow, it will NOT look this way. That is one thing I hate about being out of school and having a sub!!!

Hanging from the ceiling is what we call our "Good Reader Steps" or GRS as the kids call them. They were designed to help students read a story and complete the questions.                  
Step 1: Read the questions                                 
Step 2: Box the Title                                      
Step 3: Read the Story                                    
 Step 4: Nonfiction: Circle one key word in a paragraph and write two details                        
Step 5: In the questions, circle the verb and any key word to help answer the question.                                                        
Step 6: Check over work             
OOOOH--And look in the background, see those NEW dry erase boards?!?!  I am soooo waaaaay excited to have those! I absolutely hate chalk so when the makeshift dry erase boards came, I was elated! :)

Here is something I found on Pinterest (although I cant remember who to give the credit to) and it sums up my whole perspective on individualized instruction :)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Centers

I realize I haven't blogged in a while. The busy times of school have taken over and when I am not busy, I am sleeping. The cooler weather has moved in and the leaves have changed and are starting to fall off the trees. I wouldn't mind this time of year if I didn't know winter was coming soon! :(

I have continued using centers and am getting used to doing them more. It was rather helpful this past week when I didn't feel well and knew I wasn't able to talk loudly to an entire class. Last week, I did centers with my fifth graders on Summaries. Here is a group reading a story and then doing a summary to follow:
Another group read a story. They wrote the main idea on a tree trunk and the details on leaves.

In fourth grade, we did homophone centers. I found a great game (and I wish I could remember which site I found it on) that used a domino like structure for homophones.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wake me up when September ends...

Where did the month of September go?!? I blinked and it was gone. It's hard to believe we've been through a month of school. Our first night of conferences is already next week, although we've had a couple so far.

I'm getting more comfortable with my centers. Ive done them for two weeks now. This past week didn't go as well as our first week did but I'm trying to make them work. I asked the kids how they felt about them and they all seem to love doing centers. Even though it is so far out of my comfort zone, I must do what is right for my students. This week, fourth graders are doing centers about homophones and homonyms and the fifth graders are having centers about main ideas and details. Pics will come at the end of the week

Recently, a soldier in our area was killed in Afghanistan. On the day of his procession, our school was given permission to stand along the road and pay our tribunes. I guess I should have a lot more confidence in my students than I do. I was worried of their behavior and their lack of understanding. While they had many questions, they did a super job!

When we came back into the classroom, the students wanted to proudly hang their flags on their cubbies. 

This is a very busy week for me. I have meetings or games after school almost every single day! I will be ready for the weekend!!!!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Reading Centers

It has been such a stressful couple of weeks. I feel so overwhelmed with everything! I try to be the best teacher possible but sometimes it takes its toll on me. I have a fabulous group of kids this year and I am very happy with them. It's just the extras that go along with teaching.

Compare and Contrast Lesson

This past week, we did a compare and contrast lesson. First I had the students compare the other reading teacher and myself. This was a Venn-Diagram from one of my classes.
Yes, it does say we are both bipolar! I definitely had to laugh about this! What 10-11 year old knows what bipolar means? The class had a lot of fun with this but their favorite part was yet to come. I had made no bake and sugar cookies. Students got into pairs and were given a graphic organizer. They also got each of the cookies and were able to compare and contrast them. They were so creative. Some were smelling and others were listening to see if their cookie made any sound. It was a good lesson. And what kid doesn't love cookies?!

Working with Centers

I am a very OCD type of person. I like things done my way and if they aren't, I start to freak out and get frantic just thinking about it. I have already had to go outside of my comfort zone this year and do some things I would not normally do and I've been ok with it. I met with the principal several times this past week as we have tried to determine what is lacking in reading. Our scores have not been where they should be the past few years. As I said earlier, I put everything I possibly can into my teaching so this is extemely frustrating to me. We came up with several possibilities. He would like me to do center work so I can actually work with just a couple of kids at a time. This scares me. First, I do not feel like it is teaching. I feel like I'm throwing my students to the wolves to fend for themselves. Secondly, this sounds like a ton of work that I will need to do on top of what I am already doing. Maybe that is selfish but it's just the initial scare.

After coming home and letting some tears flow, I thought about what I would do and then I did what I always do. I went to the internet to do some research. I am now feeling better about the thought of having centers in my classroom. But I would love some ideas!!! If anyone has any advice, I would happy to hear it. It would make me feel much better! :)

It's hard to believe we are already halfway through the first nine weeks!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Well, I'm finally getting into the school groove again. It takes me a while to get back into the swing of things but once I do, I'm good to go!

I use clipboards for a lot of different things in my classroom. I decided to make them look better than the ugly brown. So I decided to paint two of them:
I really liked the way they turned out. I think I am going to bring all of my other clipboards home from school and paint them several different colors. My students love using them too so they will have fun with them!

As a language arts/reading teacher, I have the kids write many stories of all different sorts. I honestly never know what I may read. Most of our writing is fictional but my favorite to read is autobiographical because it gives me a real sense as to who each of my students are. Anyway, this past week I assigned a story. Let's just say they were rather interesting:

I can't flip this. But it says "doudle douch compation."
And here is another very creative writer:

Hmm..I really wish I could learn how to flip my pictures. Perhaps "Jonny no legs" could help me.;)
 Through my years of teaching, I have learned that 10 year olds love to draw. However, if I want them to draw something for an assignment, they hate it? Kids! I also get a lot of pictures throughout the school year. I have kept some that I think are rather comical so when I am having a bad day, I can go back and laugh and remember that I really love what I do. Here are two pictures students have drawn of ME.

Um....That's all I can say about this one!
ps. I am not African-American! :)

One of my favs!
I am having a really good year and am enjoying my students. They have such big personalities. It makes life so much better when you can wake up and look forward to going to work. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's a bird!!! It's a plane!! It's a . . .

It was definitely a crazy week at school! On Thursday, a teacher and I were standing in the hall talking while my students were at recess. Something flew down the hallway and she said "Is that a bird?" Quickly, I screamed "It's a bat!!!" and I ran in my room and shut the door! I peeked out when I knew it flew to the other end of the building. My school is shaped like an E with me being in the lower line. The bat kept flying through the "stick of the E" so I could see it going back and forth. The secretary announced for teachers to close their doors and keep students in the classroom. In the meantime, my teammates were in the hallway trying to catch the bat. NOT ME! A couple of times, it flew down my hallway and I would shut the door and avoid it! Finally, the janitor came out of hiding (also known as the break room) and took care of the bat.

Now this is not the first time a rodent has been in the old building. My first year there, I was one of the first teachers at school in the morning. A male teacher was in my room talking to me and we walked into the hallway when a bat swooped down towards our heads. He screamed more like a girl than I did! :) We slammed my classroom door shut. Then we wanted to know if it was still out there so we started going to his room when it swooped at our heads again. He ran into his classroom and slammed the door... in my face!!! Luckily no one was in the building during this time or did not watch the security cameras because I'm sure it would have been a comical scene. We eventually ran to the doors and opened them and the bat flew out.

A couple of years later, a boy came out of the bathroom in the early morning and said there were mice in there. A teacher found 4 baby mice and disposed of them in the woods. During one of my blocks, I was hanging up work in the hallway and I looked down and saw a mouse scurrying by. I was not as scared as I am with the bats! Ahhhhhh!!!


Friday was one of the hottest days I can remember during a school year. It was in the 90s and the heat index was well into the 100s. The majority of the classrooms do not have air. Fans were on high and the lights were off. Around 1:20, the fans suddenly shut off. Several teachers went into the hallway to find parts of the school lost power. I'm sure it was due to the large number of fans being used because of the heat. We had to go the remainder of the day with NO fans. I could not wait to come home and take a shower. I felt disgusting!

I just joined Pinterest. Through all of my stalking reading blogs, I have seen it is a popular site with bloggers and teachers. I'm still trying to understand it. It doesn't really make sense to me but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Only 24 hours in a day?

Oh how I wish there were more hours in a day!! I would love more time to work on school stuff. More time to sleep. More time to do fun things. I would love more time in general. This time of year is always so hard because no matter how much I do for school, it isn't enough. I have two other teachers helping me teach this year so I feel as though I have extra work to do to prepare them. It will come but it takes time!

Today I was teaching and one of my favorite students, P, stands up behind her chair and starts dancing?!?! I said "what in the world are you doing?" She said "I have butterflies in my stomach and they make me want to dance." Her butterflies were from something that happened about 3 hours before that. ha ha. I love this little girl because she has so spunk. She is one of the tiniest girls in the class but definitely has the biggest personality! When I call on her, I never know what kind of answer I may get.

My goal for this school year is to make more meaningful lessons. Now that I only have 12-13 students per class, I would like to try to do more hands on activities. My only downfall with this is my OCD. I am extremely particular and don't like anything out of routine. I like structure!! However, I may have to put my personal downfalls aside and do what is best for my students!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day One and Two

Yesterday was the first day of school with the kids. It's probably one of my least favorite days of the entire school year. Everyone (including myself) is nervous. The schedule is new and confusing to most. Kinks aren't ironed out yet. I am a HUGE routine and schedule person. I like the same thing happening and I like knowing what is going to happen. The first day provides me with none of this. I am not used to standing or talking all day, resulting in an achey body and a badly sore throat. I will say that I enjoy my fourth graders. They are a fun group with great personalities!

Today went much better. My students knew where to go and what to do. I think I'm going to have a great year with the kids!!

On a side note, I heard about something that happened at the middle school today. One of the students got mad and ran away from the school. Our principal had to go help catch him and chased him to a small creek. The boy comes up from the shallow valley with no shirt on and he is holding his shoes. He yells "I can't get my shoes wet. They cost 100 dollars!" (haha) Later, he yells he can't swim. Let me remind you that this is a CREEK. It doesn't even go to his waist!! The cops, who had been called due to his probation, tied a rope around his waist and pulled him out! ha ha. Oh the fun times at school!!!!!

It's been a short week but I'm glad tomorrow is FRIDAY!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So Long, Farewell

Farewell to sleeping in until 10am.
Farewell to laying by the pool.
Farewell to reading all day and night.
Farewell to staying up late.
Farewell to afternoon naps.
Farewell to buying fun things for myself.
Farewell to vacations.

Hello 5am :(
Hello classroom which becomes my second home for 9 months.
Hello grading papers.
Hello to buying things for my students and my classroom.
Hello to field trips.
Hello to my teacher voice.
Hello to new school supplies.

I have known since long before I can remember that I wanted to be a teacher. I played school like most girls played with dolls. The reading part came into play because I have always loved to read and write. I read in any spare time I may have. I used to write a lot more than I do now but writing a book will sometime be in my future.

While I welcome the beginning of a new school year, I know I will miss the summer. I love the "free" days where I do not have a set schedule where I have to be or what I have to do. During the school year, my planner is filled with lessons, afterschool plans, athletic events, etc. It often feels so overwhelming and stressful but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can honestly say that I can not picture myself in any other profession. Teaching is what I was meant to do!

So as I say farewell to summer, I also say hello to another school year.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


It occurred to me today that I will be entering my tenth year of teaching. Really?! Ten years?! Where has the time gone? In just 8 short days, students will be filtering into my classroom. New clothes. New backpacks. New school supplies. For me and my students! :)

Although I am now a veteran teacher, I still get nervous. I still feel like I have a ton left to do but very little time to get it completed. This has been a summer of travel and while I have enjoyed it, I feel guilty for neglecting my preparations. I have a lot to do in the next week!!!!

Sunsets on the beach to Noises in the classroom!