Tuesday, September 5, 2017

As the Year Begins

Sure, I started 2 weeks ago. But I had a morning class of 10 kids and an afternoon class of 10 kids. And I thought it was rough (routines, procedures, school, standards). Ha!

Now I have 20 kids all day long. And we have all the same stuff, but it seems like more.

After school today I said to my teaching partner: I know I can do this, but I don't know how I'm going to do this. I know I can do this. But a big heavy weight on my shoulders.

This is an amazing group of talented and fun-loving little people.

I found myself in a situation--do it because I said to do it. We know I am not winning that one. Sigh.

20 kids with needs, like how to hold a pencil correctly, and one of me. Sigh.

But I will not dwell here tonight.

What went well today? Everyone had two recesses and lunch at school.

What can I improve upon tomorrow? Look into each set of eyes and respect who they are. Love them for who they are. Remember to look at behavior as communication. Label it. Offer alternatives. Practice breathing when we are calm, so that breathing when we are upset will become easier. 

That's enough.
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Saturday, September 2, 2017


The class I am currently taking is called "Assessment."

So far it's been knowledge building. But has gotten me to think...

**How can I add more questions/activities for formative assessments into my lessons?

**Why do the big company resources that I have to teach curriculum not have great questions in them? (For as much money as we spend on them, I would like to have one less thing to create from scratch, but have a starting point to jump from.)

I'm talking about during the lesson, to make sure that they are getting what I'm giving.

During independent/small group work time I feel good about the feedback I give, but the whole group time, this is definitely an area to improve.

So, my blogging friends--- 

How do you use formative assessments during your whole group lessons? I'd love some ideas/strategies/thoughts.

And, how about a picture from my room. I just love my room. It is a work in progress and I know what I want to do to improve, but still looking at options/furniture/space.

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Sunday, July 9, 2017


I'm a naturally curious person.

Some days my family answers my questions willingly, and some days they do not. They tolerate my curiosity, but when I get that look or frustrated sound, I know it is time to put my questions away.

How does your trumpet work?

What is 32 times 2 plus 18 plus 14?

Why did Wonder Woman do that?

What was the Pacific Ocean like? Who were you with? How cold was it?

I'm not trying to annoy anyone, just looking for answers to questions that pop into my head. I don't really remember my students asking many questions. (Let's hope it's because I'm too far away from school and I can't remember any more.) 

5 year olds should be asking LOTS of questions. 

What can I do to promote questions in my classroom?

How can I structure lessons so that kids are asking more questions?

How will I support the students in finding the answers to their questions?

It seems to me that the more questions I ask, the more questions I have...

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

My Neck of the Woods

Here's what's happening in my neck of the woods...

An 8 mile morning bike ride to help me feel strong.

Blogs and books to grow my brain.

My sewing machine to practice a hobby.

A nap to remind myself that it is summer (and I stayed up way too late last night).

Water to hydrate my brain.

An oreo, just because.

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Worried No More

I have many friends (some don't know it... blogland...), and several really good friends. 

One friend has worried about my obsession dedication to my teaching job. She is concerned that when I retire (in 20 YEARS) I will have nothing left, have a heart attack and ...

Thankfully, I have proven myself this summer to her. She has seen my renewed obsession dedication to my sewing projects and yesterday let me know that she is no longer concerned for my future well-being.

This makes me smile, laugh, and be thankful for friends who care for me.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

2016-2017 Year End Reflection

Reflection: noun serious thought or consideration.

One of my favorite things to do is reflect. It is in those moments that ideas spring to life, a bridge to a challenge is built, and feelings of accomplishment fill me.

I reflected with my principal on the last work day. What a humbling experience. I do it by myself a lot, and with my BTPSM and teaching partners, but not often with my supervisor.

It was easy to talk about good things in ELA, and so many ways I want to improve math for next year, but to whittle it down to a manageable task? She really needed to guide me in that. 

That document is somewhere in Google Doc land, to be found at some later date. I wonder how close it will match to what I write here...

What went well:
1. Intense, systematic instruction (also multi-sensory) in letters (names and sounds)
2. Strong, whole-class phonemic awareness instruction
3. Recess--we had great recesses, some were messy (sand, water, broken bone), some were mediating arguments, all were full of smiles and fun

What do I want to improve:
1. Small group time? I did a LOT of whole group instruction, and not a lot of small group instruction, but when we studied the data, the kids made huge gains. So, change what worked and hope it is even a bigger gain or leave it?
2. Better plan for kid-play. They are 5 years old. Find ways to incorporate more play into our day.
3. Collaborate with the science teacher. We have already been talking and I am excited for what we might create together, and what the kids might learn from us integrating the science into our reading, writing and math. 

There is more. But focusing on one (or three) thing(s) is enough, and maybe I can have a big feeling of accomplishment next summer.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Technology for Teachers

I took 2 classes this summer. The first I already wrote about, here is the second.

Technology is good. Technology is changing. Is there ever enough technology?

I've heard a little about tech. SAMR. And by a little, I mean, A Little. Just enough that I felt bad for not incorporating tech more. I can problem solve a few things with my laptop and SmartBoard. I can create some SmartBoard lessons. 

For me, tech has been a substitute or a way to do the lesson/worksheet with tech. That is not what I want. I want the tech to teach the lesson, be the creative outlet for the kids. Not a cute game that is basically a worksheet on the iPad. 

And the question I come back to is: How do I do this for 5 and 6 year olds? They already play games on their parents phones/tablets. How do I use tech in ways that is different from what they do away from school?

I'm not sure I really got those answers, but I do have more resources to go to. 

Early on I got onto Atomic Learning. I had to go through my university and use passwords and stuff, so I'm not sure how long I will have this resource. But it was amazing. 

I watched tutorials, and got lost in the website, and watched more tutorials. Some I had to watch, some I chose to watch. One tutorial completely changed my view on Powerpoint presentations. I gave a presentation last February (snoozeville) and am giving a version of is in August. I totally changed the visual of the presentation and am so excited to try it out.

Also, I've been a little (maybe a lot) more observant in the few presentations I've been in lately, and wonder if I could point the presenter toward Atomic Learning and let that presentation WOW the audience.

Here's what I learned about presentations:

1. Plan the presentation in Word first
2. In the powerpoint, use a photo instead of a title
3. Use text sparingly (don't put everything I'm going to say on the slide! the audience won't be able to read it anyway--it's too small), 24 point minimum, 48 point and larger is prefered
4. Tell the story:
     a. Define the problem
     b. Solve the problem
     c. What's next, or how to get started
5. Every added element should support the Big Idea
6. If you use a video, use it at the beginning or around breaks
7. At the end, give a handout that enhances the presentation

I was telling my younger son about what I learned and he just gave me a "duh" look. Apparently he has learned this already from one of his teachers. Great job Mrs. McGuire!

Now, to change some of my alphabet lessons into wowsville...

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