Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made-It

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her weekly Monday Made-It! This is my first one, I'm so glad to have a few things to share!

I was inspired by something Patrick Allen said in my training last week. He talked about what do we really know about our students as learners. What do we learn about their learning styles and personality as we teach them? And in return, what do we share with them, that they could learn about us? Do we share our learning style with them? What do we really share with them about ourselves?

In particular, he talked about sharing the 5 books that changed our lives. I was really struck by that, as we all share aspects of ourselves, but what do our students really know about how you learn. And could they really identify what they know about you as a learner?

I've created a couple of color options for myself, and I plan on printing one page for each student. Once I discover something about them as a learner, I'm going to add it. I'm also going to print one for each student to record things they learn about me. I think it would be a great way to better know each other.

And my second Made It is actually a current work in progress. One of the things I wanted to accomplish this summer was to put all my necessary Back to School Night paperwork, forms, information into digital form. My hope is that I could ultimately get rid of these horribly full folders I've been holding on to, while creating something a little prettier than what I've currently accumulated.

This is my current pile of folders and work. A lot of my copies are things I've kept that other teachers have used in the past, and I definitely use them every year but they lack a certain pizzazz. I mean, in all honestly, they're ugly. And I'm hoping I can make them less ugly. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Five For Friday (a day late...)

It's my first time linking up for Doodle Bugs Weekly Linky Party! I'm excited to get back in the swing of blogging, and linking up to other blogs. Here's what's been going on this week!

I posted about this earlier, but I spent Monday and Tuesday learning about the workshop model from Patrick Allen. It was amazing, and only the first in a 3 year process my district is implementing. To say I'm inspired is putting it mildly!

Binge-watching Netflix is one of my favorite things about the summer... all those shows I didn't have a chance to watch because of a busy school year can now be on my tv screen. Right now, I'm finishing up Sons of Anarchy, which is my background noise as I blog this. 

I find it interesting because it's such a foreign lifestyle, and yet the show talks about towns near me in Northern California. Oakland and Stockton are regular spots on the show. It's fun to hear local spots. But I may have to cover my eyes sometimes... Bikers settle things violently.

Is there anything better than being able to go out for a leisurely lunch with friends for the summer? Yesterday I had lunch with a fellow teacher, and it was great to sit outside, talk, and not feel the pressure of time...

Reading! There's finally time to sit and read a good book! I'm currently re-reading the first two books in the All Souls trilogy (A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night) before the final book comes out in July. 

It's such a good series, but each book is lengthy and has a lot of historical events within it. You have to pay attention! I'm excited to just be able to sit and get lost in a story, without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else.

Today I'm looking forward to going to my church. We're starting a new service time at 4pm, which I'm serving with our elementary kids. After that, I'll be worshipping during the 6pm service. It's nice that there will finally be two Saturday night services, because I do love sleeping in, and it was always hard for me to wake up early for a Sunday morning service. My church just started a new series called Favored. Last week was Abraham. 
One of my favorite things about my church, and my pastor, is he infuses history into his sermons. And if you know me at all, you know that I love history. It was my major in college. I almost thought about teaching high school history. It's still one of my favorite things to teach in 5th grade! And learning about biblical history is fascinating to me.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Brain Breaks & Indoor Recess Ideas

I don't know about you, but some of the hardest days in the classroom are those rainy days when the kids can't go outside. They get restless, loud... and overall crazy! I don't blame them, I get stir crazy too!

This year, we had several indoor recess days due to weather, sometimes because it was too hot outside or the air quality was poor. My 5th graders were tired of playing the same old board games or cards, and even the boys who normally built with K'nex were not into it.

Enter... Go Noodle

All you have to do is sign your class up. As a class, you get to choose a monster that your class will help grow as they participate. My 5th graders absolutely loved the funny names of the monsters...

Ultimately, my kiddos picked Squatchy Berger.

From there, you can choose the types of activities you do. There is yoga, breath training, stretching for your more mellow activities...

There is also dancing, zumba, sing-alongs, track & field (featuring Team USA olympic athletes), and my class's personal favorite "Let It Go" music video and "Happy" featuring the Despicable Me minions.

Every 15 minutes of  "Play Time" results in your monster ready to grow. Once your monster is fully grown, your class can earn a certificate for the classroom.

I found it extremely interactive, and my students were often begging me if we could play it for a couple of minutes. Even my more shy kids were participating, often huddling around the front of the classroom to get a better view.

I hope you'll try it, and if you do, please let me know what you think. I've found Go Noodle to help build classroom inclusion and morale.

Do you have anything that you've found to be effective to give your kids a little break? How about any indoor recess ideas? 

I'd love to hear other ideas!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Workshop Model

How many of you are familiar with the Workshop Model? Reader's Workshop? Writer's Workshop? If you are, then you've probably heard the name Patrick Allen before. Patrick Allen is a teacher in Colorado, part of the PBEC, he's written books, and his specialty is conferring with students during the workshop model.

Now, a bit of my personal history with the Workshop Model. When I joined my district almost 10 years ago, they were fully entrenched in the Workshop, particularly with reading, and I had to play a bit of catch-up. I didn't receive any formal training on it, but I signed up for professional development, watched other teachers who were more confident in the model, and felt like I had a pretty good handle on it. I enjoyed it with my second and third graders. We had a routine. I was helping my students really become great readers.

And then I switched schools, I switched grade levels (finally, 5th!), and I completely abandoned the workshop model. I was new to the grade level, and I found it easier to follow the lead of the 3 other teachers at my grade level who had been teaching much longer and had been quite successful. And honestly, I was much more focused on learning a whole new curriculum, that I let other things that had worked for me previously, slip away.

So what's the reason I'm mentioning this now?

For the last 2 days I have been at my district's main office, with 40 other elementary teachers, principals, coaches... learning directly from Patrick Allen.

 I feel inspired again. I feel excited for the upcoming school year! 

And even better than that, my school district has a 3 year plan in place to re-introduce the workshop model and work directly with Patrick Allen and his colleagues. I know that we have time to learn the skills that have been so successful in other classrooms across the country.

This is why I teach! To feel excited about what can be done in my classroom and to feel like I'm reinventing my teaching style.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And I'm back...

So it turns out that the 2013-2014 school year was a very busy time for me...

  • I sold my house.
  • I bought a new townhouse.
  • I had to wait 1 year for said townhouse to be built and move-in ready.
  • I moved in, organized, and set-up my new townhouse.
  • I was on 3 committees for my school/district which had me out of the classroom much more than I (or my students) would have liked.
  • I built a website for my school to house all our digital products, as we applied for the California Distinguished School award. Henry P. Mohr Digital Products
  • Almost 2/3 of my students were used as student ambassadors, tech gurus, or panel members for the Distinguished School visit.
  • I had an awesome class of creative, tech-curious students who I was able to try a whole assortment of things with.
  • I worked on updating my TPT and TN stores, and saw certain products do amazingly, others... not so much.
  • My school received the California Distinguished School award.
  • And lastly, I completely neglected my blog. 
I wish I could say I'm a master multi-tasker, but when it comes down to it, there's only so much time in the day, so some things got pushed aside. This blog being the main one.

But I'm back. I'm ready to devote more time to this blog, as I still have loved reading other people's blogs and what amazing things everyone is doing in their rooms. It's a constant source of inspiration. 

So to anyone who may still be reading... I'm sorry for the hiatus. And I hope you'll continue to read. I'll be updating my current pages, and posting new things. Especially tech ideas.