Saturday, June 27, 2015

I'm back!

And with good news!

So, as the semester wrapped up for me, really great things happened to me.  I was hired as the long term sub in the classroom that I was student teaching in (six weeks of running and coordinating a classroom by myself was amazing) AND I was hired as the new special educator.  Although the grade was something that I would have never seen myself approach before, I think it will be a great experience and I will be part of a fantastic team.

Since my last post, I have also graduated, walked, gotten my finalized transcript sent to the Agency of Education and am in the works to finalizing my license and having it mailed to me.  It is an expensive and time consuming process, but what can I say?  I HAVE A JOB!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

My Apologies

Over the next few weeks, the number of posts I will be publishing will be much fewer.  This is because I am prepping for my two week solo and STEAM Unit.  The prepping of materials and lessons plans is becoming intense because of my perfectionist manner, but I am excited still.

Will keep you all posted as much as possible.

Once again thank you for coming to my blog, feel free to share content, +1 or subscribe.


Friday, February 6, 2015

A Little Effort Goes A Long Way!

During my student teaching time, I have made an effort to introduce and greet as many people as I can.  In a school with 80+ staff this may sound time consuming, but in reality all it takes is a handsshake and a "Good Morning!"  My name has already become known through my new school and because of that, it has begun going through the school district more than it had been already.  Schools with openings coming up are asking for me by name, schools I have never even stepped foot in have heard of me and my abilities, particularly around math and science.  These openings are not even public yet and they have asked for my resume and application through SchoolSpring.

My dream was to make a name for myself, to get to know enough people that getting a job interview would be a bit easier, but this is even beyond what I could have imagined.  And all it took was a little effort, even the principal of my new school has asked me my opinion on ideas, as well as requested to observe my unit while I solo teach.

So my best advice to those going through your years of student teaching or even if you just want to become a little more known in your district:  take the time to say good morning and introduce yourself to people everyday, no matter how you may feel internally, outwardly you will appear outgoing and confident.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Bruised tailbones and Co-teaching.

Today I had my first Co-teaching experience using the Team teaching method.  I have co-taught before using parallel and accommodation methods, so it was a real pleasure to try out team teaching.  It went really well.  My cooperating teacher and I played really well off of each other and I think it enriched the experience for the students in the room.  Students had two adults to reflect their thoughts and questions on, and had the chance to get two instructions/directions in two different styles to insure that they were getting things right.

My only issue I had, my tailbone was so painful.  I had taken a bad fall down some icy stairs last week, and since then there has been a throbbing pain in my posterior no matter if I am sitting or standing or walking.  It is enhanced when I am standing and walking on concrete (i.e. school floors).  The throbbing pain often took my mind off my work, but I am proud of myself for maintaining through the lesson.  I think I am so sore from the extended time I had standing yesterday teaching extra lessons throughout the day.

It is awkward moaning and grunting every time I stank or kneel while helping students.

My very first 5th Grade ELA lesson

This lesson (explained in another one of my posts about a mascot), went amazingly!  Students were excited throughout the period, they were on task and discussions were very meaningful.  Even though this lesson was directed at beaing pretty silly and fun and creative, the students took it seriously enough to use their time effectively and the stories they came up with was beyond my expectation.  The best part of it all was seeing students so excited to share their stories with the class at the end of the period.

During the first round of this lesson, my college supervisor was there to observed and made several comments on how well the lesson went and how engaged the students were.  Student behaviors were nearly perfect, with only one student having difficulty because he was simply not sure how to get his ideas organized on paper.  I presented this student with a graphic organizer I had premade and the issue seemed to be solved.

During the second round of this lesson, the 5th grade ELA teacher was in to observe.  This time the classroom was louder (26 children were talking and discussing ideas), but all conversations were on task and meaningful.  Toward the end, predictably, students became a little off task, so I pulled the group together sooner than I had anticipated in order to wrangle everyone to focus.  By doing this, it allowed for more students to share their work, and I gave students permission to add to their stories while others were presenting.  I think this enriched their writing further.

It was truly amazing to see the stories and narratives that the students came up with.  So many possibilities, so many personalities, so much creativity.

 I am more than happy to post my lesson plan or even student work if anyone is interested.

And as always, thank you for reading, feel free to share and like this post.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Thank you all!

Today I hit my 300th view in just a few weeks.  What an amazing feeling to know that others are enjoying my work.  Several of my posts have close to ten +1 and I have even gotten some comments.  The best feeling is when others share my posts.

Just in general, thank you all for the support, you make this worth it for me!

If there is anyone who has suggestions to improve my blog or content you would all like to see just message me or comment.  And as always feel free to subscribe or +1 my posts.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What an Amazing Feeling!!

Today I was going to observe in another classroom as per a requirement of my Student Teaching (actually not necessary for 6 more weeks, but wanted to get my checklist finished), and my cooperating teacher seemed saddened.  She expressed that she wanted my help in the classroom with the subject matter that was about to begin.  She extended this with that my presence within the classroom has seemed to help many of the students that she has had trouble reaching.  This was amazing.

I was wanted in her classroom.  I was making a difference.

The best part, it was simply because I was being me.  I was doing what I would in any other classroom, from the resource rooms I have worked in as a paraeducator, to the classrooms I have worked in in the same roles.

I felt like I was doing what I am supposed to be doing.

The feeling is truly intoxicating and empowering.  It brought a spring to my step and solidified that the stresses and sacrifices I have made over the last few years has been worth it, and I can make it through this and be a great teacher.

A great teacher!  All it takes some times is making that connection to that one hard to reach student, the chance to change one life, that lets you know that you are doing the right thing.

Monday, February 2, 2015

I have found a way to use a classroom Mascot with 5th Graders

My college supervisor aassigned that I plan and teach a ELA lesson.  Language Arts is not my strong area and I dread having to plan lessons in this subject.  Looking back at my previous posts, it came to me to use my classroom mascot to help motivate students to right.  I thought to help students make a connection to the mascot, named Wage, they could create the backstory for him.  While aligning this with the Common Core State Standards, I found that Narrative Writing was one of the components often looked over.

My next thought: how can I guide these students to write a detailed narrative without given them too much guiding information.  My goal was for students to use their own thoughts and imaginations to write their own background stories for Wage, but in a guided way.  How was I going to do this?

Storu Cubes!  If you have not heard of these, they are a set of 9 dice with 54 different pictures on them.  When the dice are rolled they can be used in various ways, but I thought I would have students choose 6 out of the 9 images to use for their narratives.  The choices are selected by the students rather than guided by me, which gives them a level of freedom, but guided academic choice.  OF COURSE  I would model what I was looking for first, and give students the instruction they need to complete the task, but I think giving the students the CHARACTER and PARTIAL INFORMATION would challenge the students enough to be engaged in the activity, enough choice that they feel free to write their own style, AND enough choice that they can draw on their own strengths.

I would be willing to make the lesson plan public, just ask in the comments.

I will write an update post after I teach the lesson on Wednesday (which I will be teaching twice).

Friday, January 30, 2015

Substituting for a Cooperating Teacher

Today was my Cooperating Teacher's birthday, so she took it off, and guess who is the substitute!

What a great experience, having a whole classroom and being in the lead role.  I was even able to help modify and schedule the lessons and activities for the day.  Truly gave me some great confidence in my own abilities.  Making my own choices and testing out my classroom management is amazing, and frankly, it is going very well.

Students have been responsive to me and my instruction, which is noted through the various activities they are completing.  Although currently I am working with the most amicable class (or was, it is my planning time), I still feel confident that it will be a great day, and the same patter of responsiveness will continue throughout the day.

I will edit this post throughout the day and throughout my experience as teacher for the day (which I got to plan).  I have substituted before, but the plans and such were written out for me.

Wish me luck!

Soooo..... some classroom dynamics can be.... interesting to say the least.  I have never heard "I don't like him/her" said about peers so many times in my life, but with every gray cloud comes a silver lining.  I was able to have a great talk to the students who were having conflict, and I think that it really hit home for them.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Challenge to all Teachers: Magic 37

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a challenge for you!  When you see the patterns be ready to be amazed.  This is also a great way to get some enthusiasm to your students.

Today while practice counting, my cooperating teacher and I decided on having students count by 11 and 37 as far as they could get in one minute on paper.  11's were predictable and the students saw the traditional patterns (numbers counting up, etc).  The fun part comes when students were counting by 37, and the teachers in the room took on the challenge as well.  We found that when the multiple of 37 were placed in a certain way, (ie. a 9 down by 3 across array), patterns began to emerge.  Students were able to pick out a few, then with come guidance were able to figure out more complex ones.
New patterns emerged as multiples of 37 broke into 4 digit numbers, which held true to 5 digit numbers.  With the patterns and equations students came up with, we were able to find the 24,000th multiple of 37 within 5 seconds using mental math only, then the 54,000th multiple, then the 81,000th multiple within the same time frame.

It has been a long time since I have seen a group of 5th graders so excited about math and willing to self explore and discover and go through trial and errors that stunned the principal.

Plus! Students felt so great about themselves, it was a great confidence booster to them all, no matter their achievement level, because they were all able to come up with atleast one pattern that worked for them.

Comment wityh what you find, or request some of my own student work and patterns!

Here is an example of student work.  You can see their efforts to find some of the trickier hidden patters and algorithms.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Week 3: Why are we having 5th graders practice their counting?

It is week 3 and I have been given the change to teach daily the introduction/warm-up session for all three 5th grade homerooms that come into the Math classroom I am student teaching in.  I find it a great way to break into  the students getting to know me and my styles, as well as getting to know their abilities and quirks.  It begins with the students coming in and choosing a popsicle stick that tells them where to sit.  This is followed by a Problem Of the Day (P.O.D.) which the students complete on their whiteboards independently, then check their answers with peers, then I go over the answer with them on the big whiteboard at the front of the room.  We review any tricky spots and move on to homework checks.  Once again the students check their answers with peers, and any tricky problems are gone over as a class by request of the students.

Then we practice counting.  Initially, this seemed like a silly thing for 5th graders to be doing, but by practicing their skip counting, their fact family awareness has increased.  The current topic in math is division, specifically the traditional standard algorithm, which takes a bit of mental math.  By having the students practice skip counting (of 60, 70, 80, 21, 17, etc.) both orally as a group and on paper for a 1 minute sprint, students become more and more familiar with the number patterns that can be seen throughout math.

Being skeptical, I asked my cooperating teacher to show me some data backing up the claims that practicing counting in the 5th grade could help students with their math.  She pulled out tracking and data sheets with a baseline and the increase of student performance increased beyond what I would normally thought to happen or have seen happen in other classrooms I have been in.  While it was slow to start while students learned and practiced the counting, when multiplication and division problems were introduced, students had a steady and strong increase in their academics without fail.  This means even struggling students were making gains beyond what had been expected for them.

All from something they were introduced to as younger students, and creating practical applications.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Quick Question for Fellow Educators.... Please help.

So I am looking for a fun and helpful tool to help with classroom management.  I have seen and personally used a classroom mascot to help with classroom management that was attached to a point earning system.  I saw it working great with younger students (Grades 1-3), but I am now in a 5th grade classroom and would love to introduce a classroom mascot.  How can I do this without it being too "childish" for the students, AND how can I incorperate it in such a way that it can be helpful to classroom management?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Week 2: The First Observation...

Today was my first observation by my college supervisor and.... it went surprisingly well.  Although I am very confident in my teaching ability at this point, having people observing me (my supervisor, my teacher, and a classroom para) while I was teaching my first lesson at a new school, was a bit nerve wracking.   My pacing was a bit off, and my waiting time (for letting students think about answers to questions I posed) were shorter than I would have liked.  The math block which I was teaching was shortened from 80 minutes to 55 minutes, and two students were unexpectedly pulled out for extra services.  This essentially meant that most of my typed out lesson plan was no longer applicable. Yet, I survived, I was able to think on my feet and pull out a good lesson that was both interesting and engaging.  Students showed progress in the content that was presented to them in theit exit tickets, and I even pulled out a "teaching moment."  The title of the activity was Pizza Picasso, and it had not come to my mind that students may not know who Pablo Picasso was.  I stopped the class and gained the student's attention and asked if anyone knew, and none of them had heard of him.  I took that time to look up one of Picasso's more appropriate works and explained to them why the activity was titled as such.  It took all of 2 minutes to do, and that simple act helped students connect more with their work.

So I guess my point is to keep your head up, keep on your toes, and have confidence in yourself.  Even will all that happened during my lesson, my supervisor, teacher and para thought it went great.

We can make it through this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Week 1: Differentiation and Exit Tickets

While the purpose of this blog being set up was to post atleast once a week, the fact is I started 2 weeks late.  So I will be back tracking a bit, and talking about my observations and learned strategies and methods. I will be looking back through my observations notes and materials I have gathered in order to maintain for this week's catch up.

Differentiated instructions can seem intense, since it calls for a knowledge of each student, their abilities, their background knowledge, and even a bit of their family history.  All of this is used to guide lessons to best suit all students within a classroom and meet all the needs that a teacher and student could come across.  I have heard this is an impossible feat, but I am learning there are some very easy ways to add differentiated instruction to parts of the daily routines of class.  One simple method of introducing this is to offer different (and leveled) Exit Ticket questions.  For those who may not be familiar with Exit Tickets, they are typically used at the end of a class as a formative assessment to see if students are gaining the concepts presented during the day's lesson.  By allowing students to self-choose which problem they would like to answer, it hits upon several important factors of a student's academics.    When a student is allowed to choose their work (in a guided way) they take ownership of it moreso than they would if it was purely assigned work.  By giving students the options of choosing from levels, can help their confidence in their answer and their confidence in talking about it as part of a small group or as a whole class.  This is what differentiating instruction is about; allowing students to learn in the way the need in a way that is equitable within the classroom.

In the beginning...

This blog is dedicated to my journey through Student Teaching in a Rural Elementary.  I will be posting ideas, experiences, and resources I find during my 15 (16 really) weeks of student teaching to be available for anyone interested.  I am in my final semester of a duel endorsement degree in Childhood/Elementary Education and Special Education K-12.

I am currently placed in a 5th grade math class, which is just up my alley.  This is the age group that I enjoy interacting with the most because of their want to learn, their curiosity, and their level of independence.  So far it is going very well.

I am three weeks in so far, (started a week early, which I would suggest for any student teacher), and fitting in comfortably. I will be teaching my first official lesson under observation tomorrow, and feel comfortable enough to have confidence it will go well.