Saturday, October 18, 2014

Everything Is Awesome.....

Have I mentioned I love my new classroom?!  This new position has been exactly what I needed to reignite my passion for teaching.  So what have I been up to these past 9 weeks?  Instead of just telling you about it, why don't I show you!

My school allows teams to split their students based off of individual needs (based on NWEA and other data) for reading instruction.  So after our morning routine, pledge, announcements, and lunch count my homeroom rotates to their reading class for the next 90 mins of the day.  My classroom is geared towards challenging the on and above level students on our team.  This group has been SOOO much fun to work with and is always up for a crazy project or mini lesson.  Below is a picture of an example of a crazy mini-lesson that my students took a step further than I was expecting!

  During the introduction of types of nouns and how to identify them I had my students watch Brainpop Jr. video about Nouns.  After that I gave them each 3-5 post-its with the instructions to identify at least words that they knew were nouns.  I intended to bring these post its back together and have them help me sort the nouns into the correct category.   With the timer started for 3 minutes, they all got up and began labeling the nouns in the classroom.  Everything was going well when all of the sudden several students began staring at me and furiously writing down words and then STICKING THEM ON ME!  I began noticing there were two labels in common on these specific post its.  Miss Wilson and teacher. *Cue Light Bulb Ding*  #teachablemoment!  This ended up leading us into a classroom discussion about common and proper nouns.   
Me:  "What's the difference between teacher and Miss Wilson?"
Student: "There are all sorts of teachers, but there's only one Miss Wilson!"

As a former struggling math student I never want my students to feel as frustrated as I did when I was in school.  How do I do this?  LOTS of modeling, hands on, kinesthetic, and musical activities.  Oh  and a ton of enthusiasm.  Unlike reading, I keep my homeroom with me the entire class period and utilize small groups, classroom aide, and differentiation to meet my kids needs.Each lesson starts with the word problem of the day which is glued into their math notebook.  Then we follow it with a quick review of the unit vocabulary in our journals.  At this point I start up the hook for my lesson which varies from a quick video connected to the lesson at hand to a preview of the activity usually in the form of a game, manipulative, or reward.  The rest of the lesson follows the gradual release model.  I have come to love teaching math this year!  We have had so much fun and every single post test we take we're making progress.  What more could a teacher ask for?

Sample page and activity in my students' notebooks.  Yes, I let them use M&Ms or Goldfish Crackers to have hands of practice with creating arrays!
You can probably guess I love writing, since I write a blog for fun!  That being said it's sad I only have 30 mins a day dedicated to my writing instruction. Much of that time has been spent reviewing writing basics, introducing my students to the 6 traits of writing, and instilling the love to write.  Not many students enjoy writing like I used to, so I've had to be creative in my writing lessons.  When I was teaching them about complete sentences and fragments I came up with a cheer that students still use whenever I give directions.  I even came up with a song to the tune of "The Cup Song" to help with introducing the parts of a paragraph.

The most fun activity to date though has involved dice, Halloween, and transition words. In order to model the activity expectations the whole class created a story.  In case you were wondering it was about a witch who couldn't fit on her broom.  Then, students were given a die and told to roll it 3 times.  Each time would help them choose their character, setting, and problem (all Halloween themed OF COURSE!)  They then began figuring out how their characters would solve their problems using transition words to describe the steps taken.  Download a copy of the activity for yourself here.

Be on the look out for some really big news soon!! Until then, I'll leave you with some positive vibes.

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