Saturday, August 24, 2013

Back to School and Feeling Refreshed

Hello Blog Family,

I hope everyone has had a terrific summer. Mine has been great. I didn't get the break I probably needed though, because I taught a reading/Social Studies class this summer. The highlight of this class was that my students got to make butter! That was really fun and watching their faces light up as the cream actually turned yellow was a delight! It also gave me a new appreciation for elementary teachers. I taught fifth graders and its shocking how different they are than sixth graders. It's true what they say, middle school really serves as a transition for these kids!

I have decided to blog a lot more... mostly in part to my feeling much more comfortable this year than last year. I felt like last year I was trying to play catch up the whole time; this year I feel like my head and possibly shoulders are above water! It's amazing what a summer of planning and creating materials can do to make a person feel secure! Later this week I will be posting my "after" picture of my classroom. Before I post the "before" pictures, I want to give a brief summary of my room/ school. My school was built in the seventies as an open concept school. The classrooms had no walls! Once they decided that was a bad idea, they added metal walls to section off classrooms. ( This means we have no windows in the entire building. My classroom feels like a prison box and it requires a lot of love.
This is the view from my desk. Note the hideous orange bulletin board! Whoever thought that was a wonderful color, IDK! But I will say the custodians did a great job making my floors shiny and new!!
This is the back wall. I hate how plain it looks! Don't worry, that too will be fixed. Now I realize that middle school teachers don't really do themes, but I will be spending a lot of time here, so it will be fixed.

 And finally the front of my room. We have a whiteboard and chalkboards. I don't like chalkboards so I have a plan for them! Stay with me as my journey progresses!!
Always Faithful,

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Colonial Regions

Today is a snow day, so I'm catching up on my blog! I've been taking pictures in my classroom for blog posts and doing nothing with them!

One of the things my students have to know about are the British colonies in North America and how those colonies specialized and were interdependent. Those are very big words for sixth graders to not just learn the definition of, but also understand in practice. We decided to tackle specialization first, and then go to interdependence. In order to teach interdependence, the students had to create a recipe. Each group of students was given one type of fruit. Then they had to trade to make sure they recieved all the fruit for their recipe. It was a gret simulation! They had to meet at the trading center in order to discuss how they were going to trade. One group even messed things up a bit! That group traded so much that they traded ALL of their products, so when it came time to build their recipe, the thing they were missing was their specialized product!

We had to link this back to colonial regions so we colored maps, cut and pasted things to map, and did worksheets. I didn't feel like this was enough to reach all the various learning styles in my classroom, so I introduced the walk and play map of the eastern seaboard.
I know that some of the states are not exactly accurate, but considering I drew it by hand I think its pretty awesome. After I drew it, I painted the canvas with watercolors. The paint sort of peeled and I like this because it looks like an older map. The kids got really into it! On tiles, I hot glued the different products the colonies specialized in: I glued down cotton and  indigo, lumber and different farm animals. I even went to the bait and tackle shop and got some lures that looked like fish to glue to tiles. I had dried tobacco leaves that they could feel and smell if they wanted to. They were so excited. They were sliding around on the map and placing their tiles down. The best object for them was my toy ship. I was able to use the ship as a behavir management tool because they were all trying to be on the their best behavior to be picked for the ship! What cool ideas do you have to teach map skills or colonial regions?
Always Faithful,

Field Trip Fun

Hello Bloggers!

It has been quite some time since I last wrote on here. My first year as a teacher has been quite a ride.

I wanted to blog about the field trip yesterday! We went to Pamplin Park which is a National Park about the Civil War. The sixth grade students really enjoyed themselves! They walked the actually battlegrounds; that's one of the cool things about living in Virginia. They got to dress like soldiers and see what life would have been like in a soldier's csmp during the Civil War. They also get to walk through the on site museum and listen to one soldier's experience in the Civil War. They students also enjoyed oretending to load and fire a musket.

Planning a field trip is hard work, and while I did not do the brunt of the work, I certainly felt the pressure. We had to carry all of our students' medication, from epipens to diabetic testing kits and more. We decided it would be best for each of us to carry the medicine of the kids in our own classes, but the teachers on the other team decided to let one person carry the medicine--she had a suitcase full!

We each had three chaperones per class, and we decided to make them a chaperone kit. In the kit, we put a list of all the teacher and chaperone contacts, a park map, and a list of the kids they were watching. I definitely feel like maybe we could have put more information in those packets, but I have no idea what. Do you guys have any suggestions?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Things to Remember as a Teacher...

I'm starting to get the hang of this! It was never the classroom teaching part that I found difficult. Instead it was keeping my head above water as I sorted through paperwork, grading papers, IEPS, parent meetings, responding to e-mails, keeping a clean desk, and lesson planning that has made the first few months hard.

My administrator and feloow teachers told me to slow down---they said I'd burn out before I even truly began teaching and they were right. The late nights--sometimes to 9:30 and 10 at night spent at school caused me to be tired and dread going to work. It was developing into an unhealthy habit.

What I have learned is that you will burn out. You will lose that spark if you run yourself ragged!      You must take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of your self for those students. Here is what I have changed to make sure I'm always the best version of me:
  • Set an afterschool schedule: So you may not be Wonder woman and you can't do everything in one day., BUT you can feel organized and make a plan of attack--Wednesday could be parent contact day, unless there is an emergency of course. My plan is to grade papers on Monday and Wednesday. To lesson plan on Tuesday and Friday, and to use Thursday as parent contact day. Now, things do't always go according to plan and I have to learn to deal with that! At least, I'm not stressed trying to do it all everyday and getting nothing done at all.
  • Take time for yourself and do things you enjoy: I go to the gym. Its my me-time! I go alone and I have it quiet in the car, no phone or radio. When I get to the gym I burn off stress in Zumba! Its a fun way to end the day and its good for me too!
  • Spend time with people you love: Don't miss out on life because yours seems to revolve around youngsters and state standards. Have your adult time and use it to be happy! Talk about the peak and the pit of your day! Smile at the good, laugh at the bad, and move on! These things in life come to make us strong.
  • EAT....LIVE....AND PRAY!! Have great food that makes you weak its so tasty! Go Outside and enjoy life, and lastly pray. Remember God is near and He wants you to lean on and trust in Him. He made plans to give you a future and a hope, so when things seem bleakest, lean on Him.
I hope these tips help others! (Mostly, I wrote them to hold myself accountable.)

Always Faithful,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Student Project!

Two blog posts in one day! Boy oh boy, am I on a roll this Monday. I had to take a minute and share a project one of my sweeties made. We were talking about the Native Americans and he said that the class should make houses for each Indian group. I replied, "I dare you to do it!" Little did I know, my dare could mean so much. The next week he marched in with a beautiful igloo. The moments like that make teaching so worthwhile!
He was so proud of his igloo. He talked about how long it took to make. He used sugar cubes and icing, and he even made it in the spiral formation we talked about. We played a trick on the class when he brought it in because no one else had completed one, so they all wondered if they actually had a project due! I had a bunch of scared kiddies on my hands!

Any of your students doing projects on their own?

Always Faithful,


Teacher Planner

This week's Monday Made It brings you a new planner!

As a new teacher, I have found that there were not many planners that matched what I need. The first planner I saw at Wal-Mart just had the month section and each day was a small section, about the size of a hand written paragraph. Well, when I need to write down my entire lesson plan for three different classes, those types of plan books do not fit my needs! Then, I need to write different plans for the next day when I have three more classes. I needed something that would allow me to write plans for my six classes--honors, C-level, and collaborative classes. Thats a lot of accomodations that need to written down.

Well, when you identify a problem, you have to identify a solution! So what else to do than create your own! I have read a ton of blogs where teachers have created their own planners and plan books. There is no way that the plan books offered in stores are made by teachers.
So without further ado, my plan book is below!

So here is the cover of my book! I made the cover in Power Point. I used a chevron graphic and changed the color of it to gray and white. Then, I streatched a blue rectangle (from shapes) across the front. The rest was easy. I added the title and the date. I think for an amateur, I did pretty well.
The next step was completed by using a table in word: The table is 8x3 so that I can have Monday and Tuesday on one side and Wed-Fri. on the other. My headings along the side are: Date, SOL and Objectives, Bell Work, Teaching Activities, Evaluation & Assessment, Homework, and finally Supplies/Resources. I LOVE my new planner. I also left room in the planner so that I could have a whole month calendar. I took this to Staples to have it bound after making the copies front and back. All total, my planner was less than five dollars! Wal-Mart planner was ten dollars! I highly suggest you make your own!
Always Faithful,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Its amazing how, when you're a student, all you want is a day out of school. as an adult, I cannot lie, I wanted to be out also. Here in Central Virginia, Hurricane Sandy put us out of school for two days. Ordinarily, a storm would have been a great thing and missing school would have been a bonus, but from this storm, I learned two very important things.

First, hurricanes can completely change your world overnight. I was unharmed here in Virginia; it was more like a normal rain day here. In New York, New Jersey, and in other places on the northeastern seaboard, Hurricane Sandy was as vicious as they come. For those teachers and students, they do not have schools to go back to, and in that instance I am both humbled and blessed. My prayers go out to those in need. I should never take for granted the school/classroom/job/students that God has blessed me with. Its sometimes so easy to do that--to get lost in the daily grind of work, but find a moment everyday to feel thankful.

Lesson number two is not as spiritual in nature, but far more practical. Missing days of school can be hard on a teacher. Your lesson plans change; you have to get your students focused! For me, I had a test scheduled that week, and with the even/odd schedule that the school functions on, we are a whole week behind. The most important thig is to be prepared for any change. We were supposed to have a celebration for our students the day we returned to school. I had students sitting in my room when I received an e-mail saying the celebration was cancelled. If my collaborative teacher and I weren't ready, we could have been caught in a huge mess!

Two days of rest was great, but lesson learned: Always be prepared for anything!

Always Faithful,