Friday, November 14, 2014

Two Words

I get up in the morning, rush to take a shower, brush my teeth, get the kids ready for school and attempt to get my 'life' together before the next 8 hours of teaching. I catch myself running to make copies, cut out the craft for later that day, and getting all of my supplies ready for my math whole group lessons. I check for my small group materials and finish sorting for the activity all within the 15 minutes that I have before my nineteen 5 and 6 year olds come running into the classroom excited and chatty as ever. 

Isn't that what teaching is about? Isn't that just the everyday challenge that we are faced with? 


Teaching is about our kids. Teaching is about listening. Teaching is about learning. 

What is teaching NOT?

Teaching is not about the cute. Teaching is not about the crafts. Teaching is not about the parties. Teaching is not about rushing. 

Imagine this...

If you were given a book of about 500 pages and asked to read it in one night to take a test for tomorrow how would you fair on that test?

Most would say terrible.

The same goes for our kids. We can't expect to keep flying through content to squeeze the 'fun' stuff in the day. What are they really absorbing? Are they digging deeper and thinking more critically?

Over the past two days I've had the opportunity to attend the ARA conference and the one thing that truly stuck were two simple words...


Listen to your students. When given the chance they will drive your instruction. Stop flying through the text and slow down. Think critically. Read closely. 

I reflected constantly. What is my purpose? Why am I rushing and doing the 'cute' stuff? Does it truly meet my standards? Are my students gaining anything from the cut and paste? Are they thinking critically during word work? Most importantly, am I providing them with enough time to read?

These are questions that I need to answer. 

With the help and guidance from Stephanie Harvey, Debbie Miller, Ann Marie Corgill, and Richard Allington I hope to transform my teaching to a student driven environment. 

How do I plan on doing that?

Well, I'll let you know when I get there. First thing first, I need to rethink my schedule. After all, what's the worst that could happen? 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What's Your Opinion!?!?

This was such a fantastically, lucky, perfect teaching moment! You know when you start a week and you have everything ready to go... BUT.... Then you forgot that you have three things that are happening that makes your whole week go completely backwards. Well, that happened to me this week and it turned out PERFECT! 

My school has scarecrows that our sweet moms make. They are displayed in the front of the school for everyone to see and we will keep these for two weeks. After the two weeks, the local zoo picks them up and displays them for the month of October in honor of Boo at the Zoo. Luckily, kindergarten plans our zoo field trip in October so we can see our class scarecrow at the zoo!!

Well, my class had to contribute to the scarecrow. Make our own little footprint. So we made "windows". Each kiddo got to draw their superhero body in the window and we glued a picture of their head. THEY ARE PRECIOUS!

That was interruption #1.

Interruption #2 was when my sweet teacher next door got incredibly ill and had to go home. We used her Plan B and split her sweeties. Y'all, having three extra babies who have no clue what is going on in your room can really throw you off. So we made a spontaneous lesson that turned out fabulous!!! {more to come on that}

Interruption #3..... Spontaneous fire drill....

So I have no clue how I came about this but I decided to throw in opinions. Day 1, I read pat of the book My Perfect Pet. We stopped and discussed opinions a lot! We compared opinions and facts. After reading about half way I had my sweeties turn and talk about an opinion they have. It did not have to be about pets. I had each sweetie use the sentence starter "I like...". This really helped my ELs. 

My county uses Lucy Caulkins/Talking Drawing Writing/Core of Writing/ Masting Mechanics/Of Primary Importance as our references to writers workshop. I do not give prompts. I give a TON of choice during this time. 

It was really important to me to have my students choose what opinion they decided to write about. That my writers who are at a mastering level can take it a little bit further and my novice writers would be able to be successful with guidance and support. 

After discussing their opinion with a partner I had 4-5 students share. I modeled how to write their opinions and had the students share the pen. Finally.... They began to write and oh boy did they write!

Here are a couple examples of what they came up with during day 1.

Day 2: We finished reading The Perfect Pet we took a little trip outside to view all the beautiful scarecrows! My sweeties were so excited to take a look at all the wonderful creations. Here is a picture if our sweet guy.

Other classes:

When we were finished, we headed back inside and of course there was non stop chatter about which one was "their" favorite. So, I decided to turn it into an opinion piece. I love what they came up with! 

What are your thoughts on opinion writing? 

Thanks for stopping by! Happy reading!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teacher Week: Organized Chaos

Happy Hump Day! I am back. Exhausted and most likely a little bit hysterical, but I am gathering what little energy that I have to share some small tips on how I stay organized. Today is...

The first is my teaching bible. The items that I carry at all times. As soon as I get into my classroom I always complete the following... exact order.... I've got it down to a science y'all:

1. Turn on lamps
2. Turn on laptop by my small group table and set my things down
3. Turn on teacher computer, student computers, and smart board
4. Pull out my teacher planner {Check it out here}, note journal, and clear folder that holds files
5. Look over materials and pull out my drawer {double check I have EVERYTHiNG}
6. Make note of any Anchor charts and prepare
7. Grab a cup of coffee
8. Anxiously wait until kiddos arrive!

My files contain curriculum maps, files for planning, to do items, reading material, and anything else that I find important. 

I use this cart to hold my weekly materials. I like this because I can pull out the drawer and place it on my table. It helps keep me focused and on track. 

I am smitten over this Ikea find. I love that I have these quick and easily accessible. I also keep my theme unit binder next to me. 

The paper holders will be for reading small groups. I will place any reading materials, games, or tasks for each group here. 

These paper holders have my assessments. I keep a folder for each student. It contains their assessment card and any assessments that need to be given. The top holds math, middle is reading, and the bottom has green progress folders that are sent home on Friday. 

I got these binders at target and started working on them at the end of last year. Each binder holds something different. I have my sub binder, small group plans, curriculum maps and standards, PST/ELL/SPEECH, anecdotal notes binder, and a student and parent information binder. So far I LOVE this!

Behind my table I have this little caddy. It holds my letter cards, pointers, behavior cards to be sent home, and blank note pages for when I need to quickly send a note home to parents. 

I was a little reluctant to share this.... but ... here it goes... in my back room each teacher has a little space to store things. My classroom is in a pod with 5 teachers {including myself}. I started this last year and need to clean out and make 'prettier' labels. Each container stands for a month. This will hold special manipulatives, decorations, or any other teacher material that I use specifically for that month. This is another thing that I absolutely LOVE! I pull this out at the beginning of every month and place it in my room. I can easily access anything I need with searching for it. 

Behind my big book stand I have a caddy with some materials to use when making anchor charts or modeling how to complete an assignment. 

Finally, under my smart board I have my dry erase boards and my number talks materials. The composition book holds my dialogue from each number talk. 

I hope this has given you some ideas for this year! If you have any questions let me know. I will be happy-as-all-get-out to help!

Thanks for stopping by and don't miss out on Day 4 of Teacher Week!

Click on the picture to HOP on over to blog Hoppin' and check out some amazing women.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teacher Week: My Home Away From Home

Welcome back to my home classroom! It is DAY 2 of Teacher Week!

I have always LOVED decorating my classroom. This was the number one thing on my mind when I was in school to be a teacher.... What would my classroom theme be? What bins would I use? Where can I place my cute classroom library?

I would draw out pictures and try out different placements. I even remember driving my little cherubs nuts when they would come in and see that I had changed something... YET AGAIN!

I constantly am on the lookout for changing and improvising to help suit my needs and more importantly my little ones' needs. 

I shared a little about my new room in this post, but seeing how most like to see the REAL life pictures, I decided to take some snapshots of what my room looked like today after chaos, crafting, and learning. 

Here is what you would walk into...

Today was our day to have our floors cleaned... thank goodness... we just finished a paper tearing craft and my floors were ghastly! 

Here is my small group area... I know... nasty...

I LOVE my Wheel of Choice! I don't have a discipline chart or incentive chart. I really try to build good citizens that are able to make the RIGHT decision. We talk A LOT about our problems and ways we can fix them. 

Here is my Math Wall. Can you find the ducklings we just finished? 

Here is our class mascot... Steve. He helps remind us of the word of the week or other special events happening in the school. He's a Superhero!!!

This is my writing workshop area. The little caddies have special illustrating materials. Anchor charts that have been taken down are printed and placed in the binder for reference. 

Classroom library.

Whole Group Area

Be sure to check back tomorrow for tips on how I attempt stay organized!

Monday, August 18, 2014

WHO Monday!

Hello, hello sweet friends! I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' on Teacher Week. 

I am a teacher, wife, mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, and friend to many around me. I am what you might call crazy. I have a tendency to over analyze and stress over every detail. Although... I have gotten a MILLION times better than a year ago. 

I have two beautiful boys that I love to pieces. 

I have a younger sister and brother. My sister is a sophomore at Auburn University... WAR EAGLE!!! my brother is a senior.... phew.... time flies.

I work with an amazing group of women!

I love spending time with my munchkins and husband. I enjoying learning and crafting. 

Some of my likes: J Crew, Candles, Flowers, Jewelry, Coffee {Folgers}, Key Lime Pie, Office Supplies.... to the extreme, Anthropologie, Target, Current obsession... Healthy Choice Fudge Bars.... currently eating ;)

Some of my dislikes: I'm a meat picker {I have a tendency to pick at my food}, Seafood, Exercising, Not being able to stay awake ALL THE TIME... so much wasted time...huhhh

Thanks for stopping by! Check out Blog Hoppin'!