Five For Friday

My vacation was last week and it was AMAZINGGG! It was this weird, awesome balance between actually being productive and taking time to relax as well. Plus it was warm! I LOVED it and it was MUCH needed. Starting next week, I only have EIGHT!!! weeks of school left. Which seems completely crazy and absurd. Where did the year go by? It actually makes me a little emotional. I think with your first year teaching, you feel you'll savor every moment but the truth is? It flies by in a mess of lesson plans, teacher evaluations, TEAM, PD and field trips.  Just insane. I guess it meant I'm having fun? ;) I am!


This week was KINDNESS WEEK at my school (and as you can see we had a flower theme!)! Which was a lot of fun and a lot of work! It's funny because we started planning for it way back in the beginning of February and it seems kind of strange that it's done. But also nice that we did it! The kids really enjoyed the week and the Kindness Celebration (which included a second grade planned and choreographed flashmob to Count on Me by Bruno Mars - I swear I love my school and students SO MUCH!). I do have to say one thing though: remember as a kid now you LOVED assemblies? They were fun, there was usually some sort of music involved and you got to be with the rest of the school? Well being on the other side of organizing the assemblies? It's a little different! Very nerve wracking and you want to make sure it goes *perfectly* so no one is let down. Phew! But we did it!

This week I did some quick behavior reteaching with my students before heading into our lesson. I chose a different area for each class based on what they needed to work on. For some classes, it was lining up at the end of class, for other classes it was cleaning up their supplies. I used the PBS Interactive Modeling strategy that another teacher had recommended and the students LOVED it! When I showed them how to do it, I pretended to be the student and one of them pretended to be me. They found it hilarious that their classmate was now Mr. James instead of just James, or Ms. Lily instead of just Lily. Here are the charts they ended up filling up based on what the modeling "Looked Like", "Sounded Like" and "Felt Like". The students then modeled and another student got to be the teacher. What I loved best was how improved their lining up and cleaning up was at the end. No more Ms. K scrambling to clean up all the pencils, or finding iPads in unusual places! After reflecting at the end of today, I think with some of my classes next week we'll talk about Taking Turns. I love that it takes just a few minutes in the beginning of class and it improves their behavior therefore actually saving time later!

Over vacation I had a long run of 15 miles then five days later a long run of 13 miles. Two long runs in one week? Unheard of! I also fell in love with this awesome speed work routine called 30-20-10 where you jog for 30 seconds, run for 20 seconds then sprint for 10 seconds. You repeat it 5 times for 5 min total then jog for 2 min then repeat the process once more. It makes me think about what I consider jogging v. running and it's super easy to stick in to just about any run. 
Well. On Tuesday I was running to the weight room to work out (it's been my goal to make it to the weight room at least once a week) and BOOM! I fell. I was tired and tripped on air. Thankfully I was near a school where the nurses were so absolutely kind and cleaned up my bloodied knees and palm. But that put a little stop in my running. I am currently running in about 1.5 mile bursts, about twice a day until my knees heal enough to not have to wrap them. I honestly think it was my body's way of shouting SLOW DOWN! Because when I ignored how I was tired, my body just wham, fell down. So I've been forced to take some much needed rest from running and I'm trying to enjoy it!
AND the Boston Marathon was Monday! Woot Woot! Love living vicariously through the Twitter updates! (Sorry the Boston Marathon is my version of the Super Bowl, Final Four, and what's that thing in baseball called? Just kidding. Maybe).

I helped the reading specialist create a video on Running Records and she showed up with chocolate and a balloon as a thank you! How sweet is that! I've been enjoying the balloon all week! (The chocolate only lasted two days!). After I fell, I wanted to thank the nurses so I sent them chocolate bars and a card inspired by the gift given to me...see how Kindness spreads? :)


Five for Friday

With one of my classes I decided to do some behavior reteaching. I started about a month ago after a class that was particularly disorderly. The first week we had a two hour delay so they only had a twenty minute class. It ended up working perfectly because it was just enough time to build some behavior endurance.

I started with a chart that had two columns: Problems and Solutions.
In the Problems column I listed one example (talking while the teacher or classmates are talking).
Then I explained we were going to reflect on what happened last week and what we could do to solve those problems.
The students knew where they were having problems and easily came up with a list. The thing that surprised me the most was how many students were participating. There are usually only about 5 students  in this class who would normally participate. This time I had probably around 15. 
After they had filled in the problem column I explained their job next was to choose one of the problems, illustrate it, then write and illustrate a solution to it. 
After the students finished this, I called them back to the carpet. This was a little rough and took a while. By the time they were all there it was time for them to go.

For the next week, I did a couple things to prepare.

1) I filled in the Solutions column based on their answers on their sheets. 
2) Then I created a Media Class Rules Chart that was more or less an organized summary of their responses from week 1. I grouped the rules (there ended up being seven) based on the areas we were focusing on. These are also areas that the students focus on in their classroom, therefore being familiar and reinforcing each other. They are "sharing/caring", "following directions", "listening attentively" and "self control".

3) I also created a "How are we learning?" poster idea I got from Pinterest. I left it blank and as a whole class we came up with ideas of behavior for whole class. I then broke the students into small groups where they had to complete several Team Building Activities. We reconvened on the carpet and discussed what Group Work should look like. Part of me wished I  I had discussed small group ideas with them before they broke up. 

The next week I started with brainstorming small group behavior, reviewing class rules and whole class behaviors then went into my lesson that I had taught the rest of the second graders on roller coasters. 
I added a couple items this third week:

1) Group Points Chart: this was an idea my mentor had for providing students with a visual of how they were doing behavior wise. I especially liked the idea because one of the things I want the students to work on is successfully collaborating with other students and treating each other with respect. The students set a goal of 7 points (an amount that they thought they would be able to earn by the end of the period). 
2) Labeled Sticky Notes: I also created two sticky notes one with a W for Warning on it and a second with CD on it for Class Dojo. If I saw a student not following one of the class rules I would write their initial under W. I didn't speak to them. I didn't call them out. I would simply look at them and write their initials. It was pretty effective. The student would get quiet and if they continued to break a class rule, I would write their name under CD which meant they had lost a point on Class Dojo. 
If they continued to not follow the rules then I would circle their initials and by the end of the period they would have to complete a form letter that I had created that was similar to one the classroom teacher used and bring it home to have it signed by the parent. 
3) Another sticky note I added was one that said Ms.K v Class on it. When the students were being awesome, they would earn points. When they collectively were having difficulty focusing (mainly after they had transitioned back from small groups) I would earn points. This was something my mentor had recommended and I had tried it before but always felt it was ineffective - the students would just start talking again 30 seconds after they quieted down. My mentor suggested being really dramatic about it and not having it be just a quick thing but really focusing on the fact that you are WAITING for them to quiet down and not just standing there. I also decided to tie it into Class Dojo: these would be extra points that the students could earn or lose as a class on Class Dojo. By connecting it to a structure that they were already familiar with it gave it more gravity than with just having it be Me v Them as I had it be in the past. 

The Library and Information Technology team hosted a family night for Digital Learning Day on March 13 and. It went amazing! We had sessions on everything from the inquiry process, Internet safety, Twitter for parents, to iMovie, educreations, coding, our databases...the list goes on! The aspect about our DLD that I think made it so successful were: one, our amazing 3-5 librarian who put in so much work towards it; and two, the collaboration and contributions from the whole district as presenters. We had K-12 teachers (in a range of subject areas including math, computer science, and even a PE teacher), K-12 students, our school resource officer, high schoolers who were volunteering as extra sets of hands in all the rooms. It all just came together in the most amazing way.

My school is having a Kindness Week  after our April Vacation, Like it sounds we are focusing on school wide kindness combined with kindness-themed classroom Project Based Learning projects  - ideas so far have ranged from simple to more elaborate (making signs encouraging kindness, food drive, visiting senior citizens). We also have a book The Girl and The Bicycle, a very sweet wordless book with a surprise ending) that each classroom will receive. Since our themes is planting the seeds of kindness one of the member of the committee had the great idea that each class will create a flower of kindness that will be planted in our garden of kindness at a school wide assembly culminating at the end of the week. 

If you haven't read this blog post about 50 Weird Things you never thought you'd say as a teacher, please do!  I started laughing at number 6 then couldn't stop! These are so true and the funniest part is how you understand them all - in the situation you're either just saying it, or you're frustrated and it takes a moment to realize what you've said!

If you love clothes as much as I do then you need the Stylebook Closet app. It's your closet, but virtual. When you first get the app, you have to "shop" for all your clothes which can be a little overwhelming. At first I was going to stores I shop at a lot (like Old Navy) and adding clothes. But it gets to be a little tedious. Now I just add my outfit that I wear each day and that way I'm slowly adding my clothes but not spending hours searching for each piece.

Happy Friday!


Currently April

I know. It's boring. But it's true. I could have said: the waves crashing against the shore. That would be pretty. But it would a lie.

Old news now but: I ran my first half (hilllyyy) marathon at the end of February! I ran it in just under 2 hours which was beyond my wildest imagination! About two miles of the race were dirt and they were covered (and I mean covered) in ice. And there were three BIG hills. But! There were was also this one downhill section that was so, so beautiful. But I'm done gushing now. Because I'm sure non-runners have moved on to my thinking. ;)

I had regional PD back in the beginning of March where Kathy Schrock presented! I loved it. I immediately starting using storyboards, something she had talked about, the next day. And I still have all my notes from her presentation that I need to go back and read because I know there are so many other ideas to use. 

To get a longish amount of miles in today. I am officially one-fourth of the way through my 2015 miles in 2015 challenge! Today as the first day of March begins a new slate. Since I was actually ahead of my mileage at the end of March, I only ran 4.5 miles the last two days. Which I'm hoping means my body is primed for some more miles than usual.  

To start taking better notes of the feedback strategies I am using. For TEAM, I have a journal online where I'm supposed to reflect and plan. Except my style is more a sticky note here, a couple pages of notes there, a conversation with my mentor over here. When it comes time to write my reflection paper, I know I'll be mad at myself so I need to get all these notes and thoughts organized ASAP. 

Blog Name:
Well I started a blog called Teaching Voracious Readers as an undergraduate assignment for my Reading and Language Arts course. I had to write at least 15 posts, each about books to be used in the classroom along with resources. I soon became hooked on the blogging community and decided I wanted to blog a bit more about teaching life so I started this sister blog.


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