Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Measuring Success in the Classroom

When asked, many teachers would define success as a great lesson where students were engaged, on task, and learned the content.  A great lesson is definitely a success, but it's also important for us, as educators, to celebrate all of our successes, not just the great lessons.  The days we see our students solving a problem on their own instead of "tattling", when we see students collaborating to read and make sense of a poem..without being asked, a student purchasing another student a book at the book fair because they didn't bring any money - and not bragging about the fact that they did it, a student tying another's shoe because he can't bend down after surgery, a student standing in line- still working on the activity that they were supposed to stop because they are enjoying it so much, that "light-bulb".  

As educators, it's so easy for us to be hard on ourselves and look at all the bad...because we are always expected to be better.  But I want to encourage you to sit back at the end of the day and say, "What went well today?" and be proud of all those little (or big) accomplishments. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I Teach, What's your Superpower?

Being an educator is such a powerful, life changing career.  We are in charge of 20+ little monsters 5 days a week, 6 or more hours a day.  We are charged with teaching them to be collaborators, problem solvers, critical thinkers... to empathize, to change the world, to DREAM.  Being in charge of changing lives is not an easy job.  Teachers are constantly thinking about what they can do for their students...  They work 24 hours a day...365 days a year.. no joke.

Yet, teachers are the least respected profession...ever..

I think my new twitter bud,  Brain Costello (@btcostello05) got it right in his recent post (which inspired this one!) when he said..

"For the longest time I would quietly acknowledge being a teacher. I would hide my views on important topics in education. I would hide my genuine passion for the version I figured was socially acceptable in this era of education bashing."

I was similar.  I didn't think my voice had any significant impact on anything in education and I thought I was "just a teacher". But my passion for education has recently recharged and I am here to tell you...

We are not just teachers... We are life changers....We are, sometimes the only consistency in a child's life, showing them love, showing them that they DO matter, that their dreams CAN come true- that despite their circumstances, their life can change for the better... We are facilitators, mentors, counselors, school moms & dads, an ear to listen, an adult to encourage their big minds.. 

We are creating the future of our world..and for that, we are 

And there is no reason any educator should ever be ashamed of that!

A big thank you to all of my followers (blog, facebook, & twitter), The Wallflowers, and my Fiancee who is a seriously amazing teacher.... all of whom  make me excited about education everyday!

Shout out to:
@btcostello05, @tritonkory, and @TheWeirdTeacher for being recent reinvigorators for me (& making me laugh so hard I probably almost peed my pants)!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Educents: Learning through literature bundle

Learning through literature is something that happens all the way through the last day of school!  So some friends and I have teamed up with Educents for an amazing bundle of instant downloads for you! It includes printables, centers, interactive note booking, literature studies, and much more!  And at such at great value, we hope you will be able to use this variety of items!

My products included will surely be loved by your students! They include my All About Books: An Introduction to the Writing Process, which is great way to start the new school year.  It includes everything you need, including a 3 week mini lesson plan, to get the year in writing off to a great start!

And my vocabulary building mega pack!  This mega resource is over 300 pages of vocabulary resources to build and enrich your student's vocabulary.  You will not only find posters for each word to hang in your classroom, but also 3 different activities your student's can use to work with these vocabulary words.  

For a limited time this bundle is just $10.99 from Educents which is about 79% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to be some more things you love!  

You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below!
Have fun teaching everyone!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CC Math isn't as confusing as you think...

By now, I'm sure many of you have seen this picture floating around the world of social media...

with this caption...

"The dumbing down of elementary school children has reached epidemic proportions. They can no longer make any informed decisions due to the quantity of misinformation, falsities and deliberate use of distraction, all while imposing academic standards not even fit for a primate."

Many people immediately thought, WHAT? What are these teachers teaching our children?  No wonder why our children are so "stupid".

Well... I have to tell you I had a similar reaction, but mine was more like, "Wow, that is BRILLIANT- way to go teach!"

Now, I am in no way here writing this post to say I am a for or against common core and that is not my purpose here today.  However, I am becoming increasingly frustrated with the misconceptions and misunderstanding of what these standards are teaching our children.  Let me start my explaining the "new way" in the above problem.

The work shown in that equation is nothing different than the way our brains work and process numbers.  The reason it seems confusing is because we don't normally write it out on paper- our brain does all the work for us.  In this problem, instead of subtracting, the student is doing reverse addition.  Here's a visual...

So really, this type of thinking is not only not dumb, but also quite an advanced way of thinking.  You see, for many of us growing up we just learned the algorithm.  We were taught "the rules" and we followed them.  We rarely veered off that path- and we thought we knew what we were doing, but in reality we were just following the steps our teacher taught us.  Now in the 21st century, teachers are preparing students for careers that don't even exist yet and teaching them this type of critical, deep understanding of math concepts is essential for their futures and is not even close to making our students "stupid".  In fact it is making them quite smart, much smarter than we were- like it or not, and capable of solving problems in many different ways.  

As a teacher, it is my job to make sure my students are prepared for the world ahead of them.  I can't sit here and say that teaching students this type of thinking is all cake and jellybeans.. No- It's frustrating, it's tiring, and sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out.  Some nights I'm up until midnight trying to figure out a lesson that will best help my students understand WHY ... because critical, deep understanding is more important now than ever.  Some nights I wonder if they'll ever get that concept I've been teaching them for 4 weeks.  Some nights I wonder why in the world I chose this profession.  But then, there's that day when a student explains their thinking like in the problem above, you see that light bulb, and you know that these new standards, the sleepless nights, the ridiculous acts you did to engage your students, the weeks you spent so patiently waiting for them to "get it"..is all worth it and that our children, our future, are ready for the lives that are ahead of them.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2 IPads...20 Students? No Problem!

Welcome to the 3rd monthly Bright Idea's blog hop hosted by the Fabulous, Shelley Gray.  The best place in the blog-o-sphere to hop through and snag 150 Bright ideas for your classroom (& sometimes your sanity).

Let me just start off by saying that this is NOT the cutest bright idea on the planet.  But ya know- we can't be fabulously cute ALL the time! It's just so exhausting. ;)  Sometimes, we just need practical, and we need it now.

I recently got 2 IPads funded through Donors Choose for my classroom (Insert a big Wahoo- so fun!)  I could not wait to get my 2nd graders hands on these.  I loaded them with tons of apps, got them all charged up, got to school the day after intersession and thought.. "Uhhh, how in the world am I going to rotate these 2 IPads around to my 20 kids?"  In comes my 30 seconds number list with a magnet, numbers on IPads, and voila- my IPad rotation chart.

Cute, right? ;)

Each IPad is designated to 10 students.  If the magnet is next to their name, it's their turn on the IPad.  They set the timer for 15 minutes if they are not reading on RAZ kids - and after that 15 minutes is up, they simply close out, move the magnet to the next student, and pass it on.  I have a list of apps that students can use when they don't have something specific I've asked them to do on them : RAZ kids, Kidblog, DreamBox Math, and a few others.  So far, this plan has allowed me zero IPad headache! Yay! I Love Technology- it makes my life & classroom complete (unless it's not working- then I want to karate chop it in it's processor ;) )

If you liked this Bright Idea, consider following me on Facebook, Twitter, or TPT

For more Bright Ideas from 150 absolutely fabulous, creative, amazing teachers & bloggers, take a look-sie at the link up below and choose a topic that interests you!

Happy Saturday!