Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Printable Protractors

I love the ingenuity of teachers. I have to teach about angles tomorrow. (Actually, I was suppose to teach today but without protractors it's hard.) Therefore I went to my fellow teachers and asked for some. Merrill, the teacher next to me, didn't have any. So we got to talking. He said, "I bet you could just copy one out of the book." (Speaking of the Harcourt 'tools' book.) That got me thinking about printing protractors. A simple internet search led me to this wonderful idea:

Download a picture of a protractor from online. Print onto transparency sheets. Cut out. Use!

I have sense done this for Chris and myself.

Here is my template: "Printable Protractors"

Monday, November 1, 2010


The best part about the internet and internet resources is that there are so many people willing to compile things for you!

My delima- In Febrary my class is expected to put on a presentation.My class (as the newest and without much say in the matter) was given the time period of the 1950's to the present day. This means that I need to cover almost 500 years of history in, oh, 2.5 months. I refuse to teach my students the present day without giving them the links that make it all make sense. Therefore my idea is to cover everything in the broadest of generalities, then we can nail down bigger concepts after our presentation.

Like... The World Wars.

A good exploerer video for kids - though very fact heavy. http://player.discoveryeducation.com/index.cfm?guidAssetId=11C6D68F-F3C1-4289-8078-252FDC0F80A2&blnFromSearch=1&productcode=US

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Online Review Generators

I always like to post new things that I find online. Sometimes I get really excited, and then realize that.... It really isn't all that exciting. However, today that changed!

As I'm sure you all know by now I have a delicious.com account. I had one when I was in college, but now that I'm an educator of my own right I have scraped that and started a new one. Madison Simis 65. My students use this so that I know they're staying safe on the web.

Another great resource I found was an online review generator. It makes games that correlate with soccer and basketball and popular game shows. It is completely customizable and even better, it's free! I picked it up through Science Review Games (not good for elementary subjects however) and signed up through

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh the way our students learn!

Sometimes I wish I had a million hours to spend on Math. When I was in school I learned one way of doing it, and that was the only way. No other way was available for use. However, in college my brain was torn apart and I learned new ways to do things.

Because of this I'm trying to teach my kids that there is more than one way to solve problems. In multiplication this was successful (though I left some of the more exotic like lattice and square methods out). In division it's been impossible. Until today! I teach repeated subtraction because the traditional algorithm confuses me to no end.

One of my girls showed me she really understood (though she could never explain it) what division is because she came up with her own way to divide! It needs a lot of work still for her to be able to explain it, but the way is monumental for me. I just hope I can help her structure her thinking!

Oh, how I love math now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A very late night.

Please take a moment to look at the timestamp on this post.

There, you've looked right? No, your eyes are not deceiving you. It is 2 AM here in Arizona.

It has been a long time since my interactions with children have lead to serious nightmares. However, I find that nightmares where my students are involved are usually the most terror filled, though action-wise, they are very tame.

Take the last one I had. It was when I was living with my sister in Telluride. I worked at a summer camp with K-2nd graders. One of the kids (we'll call him T) was the main character in this dream. In Telluride they have gondolas that take us from the town of Telluride up to the town of Mountain Village. Rockies (the center I worked at) would sometimes take the kids on field trips up there. The Gondolas were free, but sometimes we had more kids then we had teachers. Each Gondola held eight people. With 20 kids and 3 teachers, we needed four Gondolas. When this happened we would pick the three most responsible 2nd graders and place them in the third gondola. That way when they reached the top they'd be reunited with the teachers already there.

In this dream however, T managed to get separated from the group and put in the gondola going back down the mountain. That was it. But I lost hours of sleep.

Tonights horror? Lockdown drills. A thousand questions spin in my head. It's scheduled for 3:00. My class is usually moving between class and specials at 3:00. Do I keep them? Do we rush into the classroom of the nearest teacher? Do I stay with them at specials? What do I do? What if this was a real lockdown? What would the procedure be then?

I know it is useless to worry about this at this time of night, but my nightmare played out with each possibility happening and the consequences playing out. None of them were wonderful. Most were psychologically scary.

My place in this Adventure in Learning? Scared, and very, very tired.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Games We Can Play

A great mentor of mine gave me an idea for motivating students to finish transitions faster. It's called Preferred Activity Time. I'm not sure I'm completely implementing it correctly, but in general- I give the students a certain amount of time to do things (like, put away a notebook.) Any time they save I add to their "30 minutes of allowance". Any time they waste gets taken away. At the end of the week we play games. I explained to them that we have to play 'school' games because I didn't want our principal to think we didn't do any learning! These are a few of the games we've played. They've all had varying degrees of success and failure.

Games we can play:
1. Multiple Bingo- Students color in a 100’s chart to get a bingo.
2. Count around the room- Students count up by multiples and try to beat their best time. Can also be done backwards and see who can guess where the count will end.
3. Around the World (Vocabulary, Human Bones, Factors, Arizona Regions)
4. Count Backwards (See count around the room)
5. Jeopardy! (http://jeopardylabs.com/2993) (I paid $1.00 for this cool tool to make an easy online Jeopardy game.)
6. Trashketball (Students are in teams. The first team where everyone can answer the question is given a chance to answer, if they cannot it moves onto another teach. If they get it right they get a chance to throw a piece of trash into the can for extra points.)
7. Charades (Students act out vocabulary words without speaking.)
8. Pass the Monkey! (Students start passing the monkey. When I say ‘freeze’ the monkey stops. I ask a question and the person with the monkey has to answer it before Eleven makes it back to them. If they do answer it, the person who has the money is the next person in the hot seat!)
9. Landscaper (Like around the word, but competitive 2 ways. Students start at each end of the classroom and work towards each other by defeating their classmates in a ‘question’ contest. If a student wins they move on, if they don’t they stop.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

A change, and a good lesson plan format.

It is hard to think that a few days have gone by since Wednesday. I was in absolute tears then, and more than completly under control now.

I spent a majority of this week at a dead run. I've been cleaning, organizing and other such activities as much as possible. I've had parents in and students working hard.

So far I've fixed the following problems:
  • Students being able to see. (I went and retrieved an old transparency projector from the library)
  • Having something to project onto. I put up news print on the wall. Not as good as white paper, but better than absolutly nothing at all.
  • The above fixes a lot of my complaints about the white boards - though sadly, it means that my lights are off quite a bit.
  • Girls Bathroom - seems like if you scare enough of them, you get quieter bathrooms. Interesting.
  • Coming Home Too Late- Yesterday, I just left. Just said, "Tomorrow is planned, I'm done."
  • Meetings Before and After School- Being 100% ready for a meeting helps it go smoothly and quickly. Very nice actually.
I also have the best team in the world. A co-teacher of mine gave me a solution to my too-big-of-desks. Apparently, she hates the small desks with the lift tops. I hate my large desks. Sadly, my classroom is about 3'-4' smaller than all of theirs, so I do not have the luxury of many of the things they have. If I could get smaller desks I would be so happy! The kids might be sad to lose some of their work space, but I would SING!

Since I feel like I ought to do more than ramble:
A teaching suggestion.

This is a format that my district (Madison Elementary School District #38) has set up for their lesson plans.

Lesson Objective: What are the students to be able to do by the end of the lesson?
Sub-Objective: What steps are you as a teacher going to take so that they meet that objective?
Aligned Activity: What are the kids going to do after you've taught them something to meet that objective?
(more as needed)
Assessment: How are you going to know if they learned it?
Differentiation: What special quirks do you need to make so that your students will be successful?

More than any other template this really makes me think about how I am going to teach my students the lesson. I love it. It takes some time, but I use it all the time now.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Details, Details, Details....

When I was completing my Teacher Work Sample I asked my husband to review it. After he did he said, "I'm glad I'm not a teacher - too many details!" At the time I laughed and said, "It's nothing," because to me and my instruction it wasn't too bad.

Now that I'm teaching the complications are building up. It's things like... How do I put my desks so all students can see? Where can I put /my/ desk? What do I do with extra furniture (chairs, shelving, etc)? What is the best use of my space? How many surge protectors do I need? How do I extend the cord from my phone to the wall hook?

All the details (outside of instruction)
Whiteboard Placement
Lack of Image Projectors
Dirty Floors
An inoperative PW on the printer/copier
An inoperative printer
Too small of room
Girls Bathroom leading into my room (NOISE!)
Boxes of reference/textbook material to catalogue and organize.
Organizing wall space
Meetings before and after school
coming home too late to unwind...
Leaving school at the door

New teachers - beware of the small details. College will have prepared you to teach and instruct, but all of these other things are important also. You'll have to do what I'm doing right now. Stepping back, letting some things slide while making everything else take precedence. What always comes first? a) Student instruction. That's the most important. If the details are taking precedence over that - there is a problem.

To round out this very exhaustive post I want to post a tip I received from a mentor when having a rough time.

It's called a "Finger Friend." Sometimes it's nice to see a smiling face. A finger friend looks like this:

It's literally a small smiley face you draw on your index finger. No one but you knows it's there. And you'll be richer for it - especially on a really terrible day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Start

It's been a long time since I last posted, but a whole lot has happened. In that time I achieved employment at Madison Simis Elementary School here in Phoenix Arizona. I had a grand total of 4 hours of preparation in the classroom to begin the year. In that amount of time I was able to a)get the desks sorted, b)hang some butcher paper on the wall and c) make a huge mess of all the random materials I was given.

It is week four now... and I'm struggling. My class is the nicest set of children that a teacher could ask for. They're sweet and innocent - but learning is just not happening. Part of this problem is the talking. Now that nervousness has worn off the kids chatter and are out of their seat constantly. CONSTANTLY. I am at my wits end, so I went to go talk to Judy Webb, our 'mentor' person. She gave me some suggestions and even came to sit into my classroom to help me determine where the talking was originating.

She also gave me a book which I have now flipped through. What I took from is not a whole lot a hints to help me along, but one big discouraging message- my classroom problems really /are/ all my fault. I guess I allowed people to convince me that I'm good at classroom management, when really I'm no better than anyone else who ever stepped foot into a classroom.

My career has gone from something I love to do... to something I dread waking up for every morning. I come home exhausted every night. I can barely make myself do the bare minimum. If this is me after just four weeks of school how am I ever going to make it to the rest of the school year.

Everyone has such high expectations of me and I feel like I'm letting everyone down.

Right now? The adventure in learning is a complete nightmare.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Some Good Books for Parents and Educators

It has been a bit of a bummer, but I have been unable to find a teaching position for this next year. At this point in time, I'm willing to just let it slide. I've started putting applications out in different places, and I even heard back from one!

It's called Tutor Time and it is a preschool. It is part of the Learning Care Centers group which has a whole arary of educational preschool situations. They run baby-preschool all-day programs, as well as before and after school care and summer camps for school-aged children. They called me back and I'm going in on Monday for an observation time from 9-12. I hope I do well, recently I have gotten married and my husband and I have moved to Arizona. The recessions down here is pretty brutal on every profession.

Anyway- in preparation for this I visited the Phoenix City Library to see if I couldn't pick up some literature on Toddlers. My expertise is in Elementary aged children, and I'm a little wary of the really younger kids. I want to make sure that I don't mess up this observation as me getting a job is pretty vital to my husband and I being able to stay here. I have been fairly reassured about it. It seems like a majority of my training in school aged children will transfer, I will just have to be more simple and repetitive in my words and actions.

I have found a couple books that I want to share however.

Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos by Susan Straub
This is a very interesting book. It talks about how to choose a book for a child who is between ages of unborn and well, two! It gives examples of developmentally appropriate books, such as Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go! by Tish Rabe for newborns and The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper for slightly older readers. She talks about what babies do while you read, like fall asleep. As well as what you should take from it and do about it, in this case, nothing- keep reading. It has book lists upon book lists which include many classics like Clifford, the Big Red Dog by Norman Birdwell. It is a delightful guide for parents that want their children reading later in life, but are unsure how to start exposing their children to text when they are walking away from the books! I highly recommend this book to parents and educators of all realms of life.

The Toddler Owner's Manuel by Brett R. Kuhn, and Joe Borgenicht.
For a parent not use to the scholarly jargon of human development parents can get lost in the names of theories and theorists that often show up in parenting manuals. The Toddler Owner's Manuel isn't like that. It is organized like a computer manual (minus the computer legalese!). It outlines what parents can do in different situations, such as potty training, along with ways that it can go wrong (when a parent gives confusing messages) and ways parents can avoid those pitfalls. It also notes that not all children are equal and gives multiple strategies that parents can turn to. It does not read like a fluffy feel-good book, but a no nonsense guide that a busy parent could pick up and ready quickly in a stressful situation.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good Books Review

Revealing the Invisible:  Confronting Passive Racism in Teacher Education (Teaching/Learning Social Justice.)Revealing the Invisible: Confronting Passive Racism in Teacher Education by Sherry Marx

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book. It really opened my eyes to racism as a serious issue in teacher education. I only hope that I can remember it so that I can keep my own racism from hurting my classroom. This book inspired me to travel to Houston, TX for my student teaching and face racism.As a caveat, I don't believe I am a racist. However, I understand that racism is a rampant part of our society, and no race can completely understand one another. Everyone has different ways to do things, and different groups act differently. I cannot stand here and pretend that isn't true. I'm never going to treat everyone as if they're just like me, that's short sighted and ridiculous. They're not just like me. They are their own person and I need to respect and treat them as such.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Praxis II : Priciples of Learning and Teaching K-6

I took a test today because some of the Arizona schools are giving me flack for not having it done. It was the Praxis II : Principles of Learning and Teaching K-6.

First- my general impressions.
The test covered basically what I expected it to. There was nothing on the particular researchers which rather bumed me out for spending time on it. However, the test was a lot longer than I expected. The practice test only provided two essay questions and 26 multiple-choice. The actual test had four essay and 26ish multiple choice. The essays were a case study followed by three short-answer questions. However, these were not the typical short-answer where one expects no more than three sentences. These were detailed in depth answers that required at least two paragraphs for each answer. This totaled 24 full paragraphs written in long-hand. If I had been typing I would have had no difficulty in finishing within the two hour time limit, but because it was written I really struggled. It was not that the content was difficult, but that there was so limited time. When I took the Elementary Content Knowledge exam the two hours was more than sufficient because it was all multiple choice. When it comes to essays there is a lot more evaluative thought that goes into completing the section correctly.

Thankfully, I do know some good test taking strategies. I tackled the multiple choice first, then the essays. If I had not I would have spent too much time on the essays and not had enough time to finish the multiple choice. As it was I barely had time to go back through and reevaluate my answers on the multiple choice.

Now, more specifics.
I'm not allowed to discuss particular content of the test or test questions so I'll cover it generally and hopefully I'll get my answer across. The question dealt with a child who may or may not have a behavior disorder and what the next step was. However, the teacher had not identified the problem, nor had a custodian parent. So, what does the teacher do? It's really bothering me that I don't know the answer and I'm struggling to quantify it so that I can figure out what the answer is. I was torn between what is Legal and what is equitable for the child. In the end I went with what seemed to be the legal option.

Maybe once the test is released I might be able to get the answer. Or if I ask the question as if it related to a student who I had in my classroom? Hum. How do I find out the answer to my question without breeching the security of ETS and endangering my test?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Benchmark Tests

I'm sitting here scratching my head. Today was a good day all told. My twins didn't test my patience, my students (for the most part) did their best work and all went well.

Except I cannot figure out the test. We took our math benchmark. It was suppose to cover double digit addition and subtraction (with regrouping), area, non-standard units of measure, length (when given something to measure with like 1cm blocks), money and paired additive lists.

I spent some time on everything. (Less on Area because I figured (and rightly so) that at this age they're going to draw in the squares and the kids will just have to count it). But I spent the MOST of this six weeks on Addition and Subtraction. When I saw last years test it covered everything, but hit the adding and subtraction the hardest. I was feeling REALLY good about how my students would do, and... then this test came.

Bless their hearts, the students that really focused and read the directions and questions did JUST FINE. I'm the kind of teacher that when things don't go well for my students I tend to blame myself, but some of the mistakes I'm thinking to myself- what else could I have done? One little girl that struggled though Absolutely everything in math this six weeks aced the test. How? Because she PAID ATTENTION to the questions. This was the first time the test was not read aloud to the students and some of them were REALLY hurt by this. Others... I just don't know.

I could have spent more time on things, I really could have. But those kids who had it, they HAD it. And it was a majority that did have it. 1 student failed because he refused to check his answers and actually do the work. (I hate to blame it on him, but when I point at a question and ask him to show his work and he will NOT do it then what room do I have to say otherwise? He knows how to do the math, but if you won't actually do the calculations you're going to fail.) Another is an English Language Learner who probably would have aced the test if it had been read to him. Another is a new student as of two weeks ago. She'd never taken a test like this before. My last student that did not do well was able to explain her work in words when talking to me, but when it came to getting the right answer just didn't follow that same line of reasoning. (I'm not going to go into it for testing confidentiality but...) As for my last student... I have no idea.

I just... don't understand. If the students paid attention to the questions asked, they got it. If they didn't... they didn't. I feel like I should be frustrated because of that 1/4 (basically) of my class that got below a C. But... I don't know. One question I absolutely didn't teach them. Then again, none of my materials that I was teaching from went into that depth so I honestly didn't have any chance of being able to teach that to them. Apparently I'm suppose to have been able to know that anyway... but I didn't. I even asked my teacher what else I should teach on the topic and she gave suggestions that I followed.

How should I feel? Am I allowed to beat myself up about this, or should I just shrug my shoulders, reteach that one thing that I didn't teach before and move on? I mean, I feel like I ought to be able to beat myself up at least a little bit.

I guess I need to plan for tomorrow. I don't know what benchmark they have in the morning (It's either reading, writing, science or social studies). So I'm not sure how long it'll take.

I hate feeling confused. x.x I love my children. They deserve the best education that I can give them, and thank goodness that 3/4 of them did read the questions and pay attention. They exceeded what I expected of them (just because I prepared them for a test they didn't get. I'm glad they did get the content when I taught it and were able to take it another step farther.) I'm really, really, really proud of them altogether. Today could have been crazy (because my teacher was gone) but they really did their best and I cannot be more proud of them.

There, that's the emotion I'll feel. Pride in those kids who put their all into the test.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This week is going to be hard. We've got benchmark tests and I have no idea how long they're going to take. I'm just not sure what's going on this week.

I know we've got StoryBook Opera at some point, and I need to cover Robert Fulton, and multiplication by 10s, but beyond that there doesn't seem like much. Just do some reading I guess....

*lesigh....* Planning is so important, and I always feel really anxious when I don't feel like I've done enough planning to really make it worthwhile.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Two Days, one Suspension

The last two days have been pretty horrible. I've been trying to teach subtraction with regrouping. Some of my students have done very well, they've gotten it, been able to explain it, so on and so forth. However, a handful of them are struggling badly. One little girl is writing a one above the ten she is taking away, rather than one less then that number. Another is refusing to see which number is less. The first is probably getting confusing information from home, the other is playing me. She's acting frustrated, and so I try to help, bu won't listen. She's getting the attention she wants. I'm going to stop giving it to her. However, what if she does struggle? What do I do then?

Anyway. Mrs Howard has been out of the room the last two mornings. First she was doing some acceleration with the GT children,second she had to take her son to the doctors. The first day was... alright. Three students made life difficult, and finally I had to just stop. The next day was completly messed up. I'd planed the day this way:
7:45-8:00 Welcome
8:00-8:15 Annoucements
8:15-9:15 Ms. Longoria or Math
9:15-10:30 Walk for Heart
10:30-11:15 Math
11:15-11:30 Read Aloud
11:30-12:15 Lunch
12:15-1:15 Social Studies
1:15-2:45 Specials.

What actually happened was this:
7:45-8:00 Welcome
8:00-8:15 Announcements
8:15-8:25 Math then we got an announcement that Ms. Longoria WAS teaching so...
8:25-9:20 Ms. Longoria
9:20-9:35 Waiting for the Walk to Start
9:35-10:20 Walking. In this time there was a student who I was unable to get to walk, obey my requests, stand where I asked him to (I had to move him because he hit his brother and was not allowed to be near the boy he wanted to be par that boy's mother's request) so as we walked I handed him to the nearest administrator. He stayed with her though the whole walk.
10:20-10:30 Drinks
10:30-11:00 Library time
11:00-11:20 Bathroom/Drinks/Transition to the classroom
11:20-11:30 Read Aloud
11:30-12:15 Lunch- During this time the administrator I turned my student over came to inform me that he was getting suspended for three days and that I needed to get some work for him. Thankfully, I had a para I could hand the kids off to while I took care of that.
12:15-1:15 Ms. Howard was back for this, though she took three of my struggling students to work with them. The rest f them worked on their MLK books.
1:15-1:25 Transition to Specials, only to find out that specials were halved for the day so they didn't have to be there till 2:00.
1:25-1:55 Finish MLK books.
1:55-2:00 Go to specials, to find they don't start till 2:05
2:05-2:45 Specials - Ms. Howard and I went to retrieve test scores for them to go home with the students.
2:45-3:20 Dismissal

When we look back, was there really any instruction/ practice time? I don't think so. I really do not think so at all. I had to be very flexible.

I'm not sure if ANYTHING went well. We're going to give up on Subtraction because enough of them have the basics. I hope they're alright! I'm also not sure what I could have done to keep my boy from being suspended. I couldn't deal with him and everyone else in the classroom at the same time.

Right now I feel like I'm in the middle of a war zone. They're struggling to see me as a disciplinarian, because Ms. Howard has always been that. I think in their eyes I'm not allowed to make decisions like that and they don't like having to change their thinking. I need to be more structured about how I discipline.

All in all, this week has left me fairly flat. I'm not happy to be here. Only little things are keeping me going. Like when Ang. made me a bowtie out of tissues and I wore it during dismissal.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I've taught every day since I last posted, and all the reflecting is really wearing me down. I reflect in my head and out loud with anyone who'll talk to me (here is where I love my fiance and the woman I'm living with), but writing takes a lot of energy I don't have at the end of the day.

Anyway, I'm going to try to reflect as a whole.

Things that have gone well-
To-With-By has worked well.
Stickers work well so long as I remember to give them.
Time limits on doing things.
Having them work with their elbow partner
Moving over to Aa. so that when he speaks he can speak softly but still answer.
Let Aa sit behind and watch so he'll be still and polite.
Taking Mal. aside to talk to her and not calling on her when she doesn't know the answer.
Making a schedule on the board. I get through things faster!

Things that need help-
Enforcing consequences to actions after I have told them the consequence.
Stating my objectives.
Finding reading material for the kids.

I just had a stroke of brilliance. Poetry. Poetry-Fluency. Fluency-Poetry. Kids time themselves, I can totally do that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lesson 7 & 8

Lesson 7-

I incorporated coins into my centers for this lesson. First I let them finish the centers from the day previous, and then let them work in centers where they were adding the value of coins. Two digit addition, I think so. Another TEKs incorporated? I think so. By the way? I rock.

Students were self directed
I was able to save my voice a bit
Able to work one-on-one with some students as they worked with coins.
Pre-assessment of coins given - good insite into what they need to know

The coins were like toys
The worksheet was not very clear on the pictures - I printed it too small.

Overall, I think this was a pretty sound decision on my part. They know this stuff.

Lesson 8 - Traskhetball
I'm going to not reflect on this one because I spent a whole lot of time with Mr. Coleman talking about it today.

Things I need to work on-
1. My student's self-assessment/informal assessment. I'm starting to do more of it, but still don't do it as much as possible. As I cut down my lesson length hopefully I'll do more of it.
2. Length- My lesson was too long. I've kinda been following Ms. Howard's example a bit on this as her lessons are really long. With her though, their individual work takes the most time. So, me = learn more. me = shorter lessons, me = talk less.
3. When the voice gives out, take the time.

Otherwise, I got some very good feedback on my teacher presence, management, disipline, expectations, etc. All of those things that I have really worked hard on. I love when I get someone telling me that I've done something right! I really enjoy it.

Now, fingers crossed for the test tomorrow!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons 3-6

I taught on Friday using whole class inquiry methods to get my students to regroup.

What Went Well
My mid-range students got it. They understood.
The students are getting better at answering my 'why' questions and being respectful.

What Didn't Go Well
The students are at such DIFFERENT levels that the whole class left half of them bored, and the other half day dreaming.

This was an alright lesson. I don't think I want to do all class inquiry again though. The problem with that is that I know inquiry doesn't go well the first few times and I have to train the kids to think about their thinking. I'm understanding WHY so few people actually use this tecnique.

Lessons on the Virtical Frame
I used centers to teach the virtical frame and just get the kids thining about how addition and regrouping work.

What Went Well
The students (with the exception of two) were 100% engaged in every center.
I have some solid data to say who is struggling now. Namely, El, Mal, Pr.
I was able to have a little one-on-one time with every student.
Every student was able to explain regrouping to me.
They started explaining their work with words and making those verbal connections.

What didn't go well
Basically, nothing went so badly wrong that I would change anything. The students were engaged, they loved the virtual manipulatives, I only had to remind them twice about their voice level... Yes, some of them struggled with some of the centers, but all in all I believe they did REALLY well.

I loved using centers. Yes, it was a bit harder to think out the centers, but I think If I was a teacher of second/first grade I would have centers made to reinforce the concepts I wanted to teach already so much of that work would be done. I really, really, really like how self directed the kids were and I enjoyed being able to work with them one-on-one.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lesson 3: Estimation

I did my third lesson in my addition unit today. My biggest problem with Estimation is the definition of 'estimate'. Everyone I've talked to have defined estimation as an educated 'guess'. To the kids, they learned that a 'guess' really is anything that's out there. A guess cannot be right or wrong. But now they have me in front of them telling them that what they learned isn't exactly right, that there are 'rules' to estimation. There are ways to make estimation more exact, but they're not really easy to explain. However, I did the best that I could. For once, I taught the lesson a lot like it was explained in EnVision math. I put the lesson plan into my own words though (for the TWS!).

The students were able to identify their tens and ones.

Not Well-
I had to redirect them quite a bit.
I didn't have enough time.
The technology did /not/ work.
The students didn't have contact with the technology.

Anyway. I am not satisfied with this lesson, but I'm not sure HOW I could teach it better. Frankly, I'm thinking I'll have to leave this particular subject alone, having introduced it. On the benchmark tests they will simply add the two numbers together to see if they have enough money to buy the object. As they get more sophisticated in their estimation skills they will learn how to estimate better.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Link to Lesson Plans for Lesson 1 and 2 of addition unit.

My first two lessons of my teacher work sample have been completed.

I don't have much time, so I'll reflect quickly.

Lesson 1- Closest 10
Went Well-
Students were engaged.
Students were able to tell the closest ten using a number line.
Students worked quickly.
Students were able to get up and move.
I made the students go back to their seats and do it again to show that I was serious about them following directions.
New attention signal given and learned.
Able to switch gears when it was clear the learning goal was not being met.

Needs improvement:
I'm not sure if they are able to find the nearest ten without a number line.
They had to go back to their desks. Directions needed to be more concise.
Pick a management sceme and work with it.

Lesson 2- Place Value
Went Well-
Students realized I'm serious about directions (st.s had to pull their sticks)
Learning goal accomplished.
Students worked in groups without arguing.
Ma and Aa BOTH engaged in the lesson!

Needs Improvement-
Give more verbal praise - avoid empty phrase
Formulate questions before having groups present.
Need to find a new punishment than moving their conduct stick. What could it be?

Lesson 1 and Lesson 2

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Amelia Earhart Lesson

Amelia Earhart Lesson Plan

Today I was able to teach my first lesson with the second grade class here at Carroll Academy. My teacher asked me to teach about Amelia Earhart. I spent all Saturday looking for things I could do with her and came up completely empty. Finally, I asked the woman I live with (Rosemary) how she taught it when she was in second grade. She couldn't really suggest anything, but said the words 'paper airplane'. My struggle was that I knew my objective, but could not find an assessment to match it. With her suggestion however, I was able to find an assessment that matched what I was teaching (namely, write facts about Amelia on the paper airplane.)

  • I really made sure that I was in control of the classroom.
  • The projector idea Did Not work, so I kicked it out and did something different.
  • I made sure that I changed the pitch of my voice
  • I was excited about the subject and teaching it.
  • I was completely prepared to teach the subject. The note cards were under their desks.
  • I elaborated slightly on every fact to give the kids a feel for the woman.
  • I made sure everyone was able to contribue to the classroom.

  • I should have tested the projector first.
  • Those stupid behavior expectations- I did not set them.
  • I need to work on my timing. That lesson should not have lasted that long. These are second graders for Pete's sake!
  • Be more fair when partitioning out work.

After the lesson we watched a short animated clip from Discovery Streaming (The Time Warp Trio), and I asked them to write a story about what they think happened when Amelia Earhart disappeared. A handful of them were able to do it, but most of them it was like pulling teeth to get them to engage their creative minds. Aa. had /good/ ideas, but REFUSED to share them in front of the class. Jac. did the same thing. Mayl. seems to struggle with vocalization of her thoughts all around, and it makes me wonder about her. I am going to keep an eye on her and see if I can't get her to start vocalizing more. To give them an example of the kind of story I wanted I did a short shared writing experience with them where I wrote and they gave me the ideas. I'm not sure if it helped because we ran out of time... but I can only hope. I want them to come back to this, because there are SEVERAL lessons that we can teach from this one piece of writing.

I think I am going to email Dr. Wilcox and Dr. Morrisson to see what they suggest to get these kids writing. Some of them love it. I was surprised out of my socks by Edw. He really wrote a good start to a story with lots of details. Some of the other kids though complained that they were 'bad' writers or 'couldn't' think of anything. All of these kids can write, but somewhere they were told they were bad. I intend to find out where this came from and do my best to erase it!

Randomly- The kids enjoyed talking about their answers in groups. They really did. Alex even asked if they could do some more of that. I'm going to incorporate that into my future lesson plans.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I realize now that I was spoiled in my last student teaching experience. My teacher was very big into cooperative learning and self-esteem. She made sure from the very first day that her classroom was a respectful and safe place to learn. From what I observed her philosophy is that it is perfectly fine to BE wrong, so long as you from it. Often she would give them the right answer, and they would the have to explain why the answer was correct.

Not to nay-say my teacher, I think she is wonderful, but this classroom is not built on that philosophy. (Which, I'll admit, is a very different philosophy then I have seen any other teacher employ.) This classroom does not follow that philosophy. The students worked in groups to create a pamphlet of Texas facts and they struggled with it. The groups argued and got impatient with one another when the work was not progressing fast enough. Often they would get so mired down with their arguments that myself or Ms. Howard had to step in and get them moving again.

One of my most recent pet peeves is the students saying "that's easy" when another student struggles with an answer. I always turn to the commenter and say, "Easy for you." More than once I've gotten back, "No, easy for everyone." Which is just plain not true. Comments like this make it hard to get the struggling student to venture an answer because they might be 'wrong'. As a teacher is is very frustrating.

Another thing I have noticed is that very few of these kids will venture an answer that may even possibly be wrong. On a rough draft they will redraw a picture several times to make it 'right', and will often give up if they cannot get it 'right'.

So, what do I do now? How do I get these students to work well in groups, as well as bolster their self-confidence? I believe that it is easier to learn from a wrong answer than a right answer, but when the kids plain will not answer a question for fear of being wrong... what I can I do?

To Do:
1. Ask Ms. Howard if I can see the report card.
2. Keep up on anecdotal notes.
3. Check out Triad.

Something Cool:
Ms. Howard sent me an email saying that the museum district down here is having a day for the teachers. They've got presentations in the morning and then educators get a free pass to all of the museums. If you go to at least three of the presentations you also get a certificate saying that you did it. I signed up right away, this should be interesting.

Overview of Aldine

For those of you who have not followed this blog, ever, I'll give you a brief update on who I am.

I am 21 years old. For the past 3.5 years I have attended Brigham Young University at the Provo, Utah campus. I entered to study elementary education and have kept that aim throughout the years. For my second semester in the program I was required to start this blog to post projects for a class on using Technology in the classroom. Every since then I have kept this blog to post updates in various parts of my education. I started student teaching this week at Carroll Academy in the Aldine Independent School District here in Houston Texas. This move is a big jump for me because I was raised in a rural community in Colorado. Aldine is an inner-city school in the middle of a very large city.

My first week is passing well, but I have a few things I have noticed that are radically different from the school I went to as a child, the schools I did my cohort work in and Carroll Academy.

Carroll is what is called a Magnet School. This means that it is a school with a whole lot of extra 'perks' to entice people to stay in the district rather than transfer their students elsewhere. From what I have observed Carroll has a majority student body made up of Hispanics, followed by African Americans and then whites. This diversity is one of the main differences.

The next difference is the size of the school. Carroll has 940 students enrolled. The elementary school back home as 450 in a year where everyone that could enroll has. There are never more than four teachers per team, and the school goes up to fifth grade. Carroll only goes up to fourth. This really shocked me when I learned about how the schools where split up. (K-4 is elementary, 5-6 Intermediate, 7-8 Middle, 9 own High School Campus, 10-11 High School.)

One more difference is the number of languages that the students speak. I have a gifted and talented second grade class so all of the students speak English. This is good for me because I have not learned Spanish. As a magnet school there are several bilingual classes in each grade so that students can move into English only slowly. In fact, in second grade, there is my gifted and talented, and one or two English Only classes. The rest are bilingual.

These are just the cultural differences between the schools. There are a lot more, such as security, staff positions, specials, lunch schedules, library, so on and so forth. There really is no reason to bemoan these differences, but I hope they give some context to the remarks that I make in the next few months with regard to this teaching experience.

If you're curious about the school or the district, visit their website:
Aldine Independent School District
Carroll Academy

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