Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Power of Reflection

My journey in becoming a National Board Certified Teacher really taught me the importance of reflection and how it can change your teaching.  This morning I was reminded of that during our staff meeting.  The focus for our meeting was the importance of diversity and embracing that diversity to meet the needs of our students.

We have worked a lot this year talking about diversity and embracing diversity in our school.  You can see some of the things we did in my post on Cultural Diversity Day.

Part of her presentation was this video clip.
Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Key points from the video.
  • the +2 is more powerful then the -18
  • learning is building relationships 
  • everyone has been affected by a teacher and adult
  • kids don't learn from people they don't like
  • every child deserves a champion
This video really hit home for me.  I also came from a family of teachers, my maternal grandfather was a teacher and then an administrator.  I also have several aunts who are teachers and administrators.  My aunt Libby used to spend summers with us and I remember hearing stories about her classroom and students while I was growing up.  When my aunt died at a young age I was surprised to see so many of her students at her awake and funeral.  When thinking back it was apparent that she had built connections with many of her students.  As I am again reflecting on her funeral and the celebrations after I remember hearing stories of how she drove all over Atlanta to take one student to every swim meet he qualified for.  I don't remember what the circumstances were but, she was his cheerleader and coach encouraging him to keep going.  The story I remember the most was the impact that she had on PacMan.  He was a football player at her school. He did not come from a very supportive family, but that did not stop him and that did not stop my aunt from helping him reaching his goals.  He became a son to her and she even attended his mom's funeral years after he graduated and became a professional football player.

My Aunt Libby

Even with all of these amazing teachers in my family when I got to high school, teaching was not something I was drawn to.  I took the math classes and the drafting class to become an engineer just like my dad, my godmother and my godfather. That was until my sophomore year when on a whim I signed up for child development and meet Ms. Pimental (now we just called her "P"). "P" showed me that working with children and teaching was in my blood.  She gave me the reins to show my true potential.  Before I knew it I was writing the curriculum for the preschool that we ran and raising money to build a playground.  When it came to to choose what path I would take, teaching was at the top of the list.

When I graduated high school "P" was front and center handing me my diploma and celebrating with my family. At my graduation party she leaned over to my dad and told him "I won!" to this he responded "you did." This is not something that I heard first hand but something I was told a couple of years later when "P" and I went to dinner. When I first heard this story I had a complete look of confusion on my face.  She smiled and said "I won. You were on the path to become an engineer and I changed that.  I showed you that your heart belonged in the classroom." I smiled realizing that she had WON!!  This one teacher changed my life forever.

With reflections also come the "now what", what are you going to do to better yourself and your teaching.  My goals for the upcoming weeks and the rest of the school year.
  • Take the time to email at least one parent a week to tell them something positive that their son/daughter has done.  Hopefully opening the lines of communication and building a relationship with them.
  • Make time in our schedule to get to know my students and reflect on how much they have grown.  We need to share our student success and make them proud of themselves. 
  • When picking topics to discuss or books to read think about my students and what they would like to learn about. And of course making sure we are being diverse!!!
I want to be a champion for my students. I want to make a positive difference in their lives!--This is my ultimate goal.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

10 Apples Up on Top

Yesterday we started talking about making 10.  I love to start new math units with literature, this one was no different.  We read 10 Apples Up on Top by Dr. Suess.  You can also watch it on YouTube.

Then as a class we used a ten frame to figure out how many more apples each character need to make 10.

To check for understanding students worked by themselves to complete a similar worksheet. Click on the picture to grab a FREE copy.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Gearing Up for the Aquarium

Next week we go to the Aquarium so this week and next we are going to be learning about aquatic animals.  We started our unit off today by reading Swimmy by Leo Lionni.

Here is how our study of this book will go.

Day 1:

  • read the story to the whole class with little discussion
  • reread pages 1-19 with the purpose of identifying the characters and setting
  • students will then draw/write who the main character is and what the setting is (collect papers)
Day 2:

  • reread pages 1-19 and identify the characters and setting
  • continue reading the rest of the story with the purpose of identifying the problem and solution.
  • give students their papers back from yesterday, on the back they will draw/write the problem and solution (collect papers again)
Day 3:

  • Students will get into groups based on the shape on their paper
  • while in groups they will discuss the main character/setting
  • then discuss the problem/solution
I can't wait to see their learning shown through writing. This is something we have not done much of. You can grab a FREE copy of our 4 corners activity here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fancy Words

We have spent the last couple of days talking about "Fancy" words.  These are words that make our writing interesting and add details. I introduced this topic by read Fancy Nancy and pointing the "fancy" words she used to describe differnt things she was doing. my kids were eating it up.

Then we looked at the word great and came up with some other words we could use in our writing instead of great. They did pretty good.

The next day we did the same thing with the word pretty. 

I hung both of these on our "Fancy Word" wall and the next day I saw some of these words in their writing.

Now then we read a book my kiddos raise their hand anytime they hear a "fancy" word. Want a copy grab them here as a FREEBIE!!!