Saturday, May 31, 2014

Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten...

Yes Blog Readers, yours truly is still alive.  I know it's been a while since I last posted, but you would be surprised how much life has changed in the past months.  Here's what I've been up to teaching wise.  Stay tuned for a future blog post about some exciting personal life changes.

  1. I am finishing this year teaching at a charter school which has been quite the experience.  We started in a section of high school, moved to a brand new building, and are still being renovated.  Lots of changes.  It's been quite a different experience than teaching in my little village in Alaska.  The needs are all the same though and as Mr. R always says, "There are children in need everywhere!" I also made some really great friends from my colleagues and was able to get a whole bunch of professional development. 
    • Whole Brain Teaching:  Mirror Words and Gestures
      For those of you not familiar with Whole Brain Teaching, let me just say it's amazing!!!! I can't believe I didn't know about it until this year.  You combine learning and classroom management with movement and fun.  From Day 1 in my classroom my class got used to "moving and grooving".  They know when I say, "MIRROR WORDS AND GESTURES"  there is something they will be learning and practicing with their mirror partners.
    • Teach Like A Champion Behavior Management:  Weekly our principal had us come in for feedback meetings which, from experience can really stretch a teacher.  Most of his advice came from the the book Teach like a Champion (TLC).  The main components of TLC are "Right is Right", "Do It Again", "Check For Understanding", and "J-Factor".   Most teachers do lots of these naturally, but if you're being focused on a specific one regularly you can't help but grow.  Although it is based from a charter school perspective, everyone one should check out the book if you're curious to learn more.
  2. I wrote third grade curriculum from scratch.  For an entire year.  My non-teaching friends may not get how difficult that is, much less do it on top of teaching as well.  But, I survived and enjoyed some of the awesome things my kiddos were able to accomplish.
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My favorite day of the year, Market Day

    • Economic and Persuasive Unit:  I was able to combine the ideas from Barnard Island's Economic Unit of Study and my own Persuasive Writing Unit to make writing and social studies something full of impact and engaging.  Besides understanding goods and services, supply and demand, and types of resources... my kids really got into assembly lines and how they changed economics as we know it.  I got some really great pictures of their favorite lessons, Assembly Lines and Market Day.
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    • Black History Wax Museum
      You may recognize those kids up there.  They are the living wax figures of famous African Americans such as Muhammad Ali and Diana Ross.  As a school of nearly 90% African American population we took Black History Month very seriously.  I was put to the task to create and facilitate the school's first Living Wax Museum.  But, don't worry we didn't just pick sports and music stars for our scholars to look up to, we also chose famous African American's such as Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Phyillis Wheatley, and the late Maya Angelou.
    • Fraction Lines
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      If anyone asks you what's the hardest concept for 3rd graders to grasp, they will probably say fractions on a number line.  If they don't say that, I think they're lying.  Haha, but seriuosly, my kids really struggled with figuring out where a fraction would go.  What I ended up doing eventually is coming up with the idea of combining fractions and candy.  Talk about engaged!  My kids now have no problem finding where 4/6 is on a unmarked number line.

    • Prepping for IREAD and ISTEP
      Oh standardized testing... The time where the teachers and the students all feel the pressure of states and schools on their shoulders.  On the bright side, my scholars went from struggling to write a paragraph to a prompt to actually writing their little hearts out on the test.  They also were really struggling with finding text evidence.  But with the help of one of my favorite bloggers Jenny at Luckey Frogs Lilypad, my kids were able to mark up text like real college students.  I wish I would've gotten pictures of their silent engagement, but when it's ISTEP season in Indiana teachers are lucky to make it out alive. 
And there you have it... my first year teaching in Indianapolis. Like I said before, it has been quite the experience with it's own ups and downs just like Alaska.  Who knows where the 2014-2015 school year will take me.  But, I for one can't wait to find out.

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