March 14, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 4

Oh goodness....I thought I was doing good, and then I went to link up and BAM! I'm behind....I looked at the schedule wrong. So here is my very quick, and very late take on Chapter 4: Games!!

"The need for survival, belonging and love, power, freedom, and fun are the five critical needs that must be satisfied if people are to be effectively motivated," (Glasser, 1999) of the most important things, in my opinion, that we can give our students. If we cannot motivate them to want to do their best, then we are never going to be able to reach their full potential. What better way to motivate kids than by playing games?!! Kids love to play, and I love to indulge them. My games are usually pretty simple in my room, sometimes I come up with them off the top of my head.

One of my kid's favorite games is a very easy sight word game that I made up one day after a few of my kid's were completely stuck on about 4 words. I call it Pass A Word. I gave them all a sight word card, and they all had to read their word card, then, we sang.

Pass, pass, pass your word. Pass it to a friend..... {tune: row row row your boat}

Then their pass their cards to the person next to them, and they all have to read their new card.You keep going until all the kids have had every card. Y'all. The asked for this game every day in small groups. (I can't find my pictures right now, but I will update this post ASAP.Sorry!!)

I'm so excited to read y'alls posts and file away some new game ideas! Tonight I'm linking up with Katie at Queen of the First Grade Jungle!! 

March 7, 2015

Book Study:Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites:Chapter 3

Book study time!! This chapter was all about FIELD TRIPS!!!! Field trips are one of those things that a lot of teachers don't have control of. Most schools around here, including mine, get 1 spring field trip to end the year. I have gone to the zoo, and to the Museum of Discovery with my classes over the last 3 years. My first year I worked at a private school and the parents were COMPLETELY in charge of the field trip. They took us to the skating rink. It was a lot of fun, and my kids couldn't believe I could skate! :) It was a good bonding experience for the end of the year.

Now I teach in tiny town Arkansas, and not only do I get just 1 field trip per year, I am 1 hour away from anything....and I mean anything...even Wal-Mart. And I am 2 hours away from the nearest museum, zoo,( insert any other good field trip spot here). So, we don't get to stay at our location for more than a few hours before it's time to head back to school. So one thing that I have delved into the last 4 years are virtual field trips!!! They are a ton of fun, and they get the kids creative juices flowing!!

Here is picture of my personal daughter on our zoo field trip last year. :)

One of my favorite virtual field trips we go on is to Sea World! I use this little field trip when we study penguins because they have online live surveillance from their penguin exhibit!! You should see those kiddos sweet faces when the animal they have been learning about for several days is alive right in front of them! And, it's the best writing they do all year. Some kids just start writing what they are observing the penguins doing. Some, make up stories for their favorite. We also look at the maps, and talk about the features of the map, and what all they have at Sea World. By the end of the week my kids are rearing to go to Sea World. I just wish we had the means to take them all! :) Here is the link for the penguin cam if you are interested!

Another thing that we do at my school are community trips. I LOVE this, and I just think our principal is the best in the world for letting us do this because I know what a luxury it is. We visit the surrounding nursing homes at least 4 times per year. Each grade does this. In the fall we sing them songs, and in the spring we read to them, and perform our show stopping number of kindergarten graduation. Sometimes, if it's around the holiday's or just because we make and take them cards. My kids are always reluctant at first, but it's amazing to see how much they grow up, and how much compassion that they show for their elders. I think it is so important to teach the kids about community service at such a young age, and I'm so thankful to be apart of a school that does as well.

This chapter also talked about making use of the space you have. Have class outside, do things around the school, have speakers come to your classroom, etc. I can do better at this, and if it EVER stops snowing I can have class outside! :)

So, the summation of this chapter...field trips are important! :) We all knew that, and it's nice to see some research behind it. What did you think? If you haven't joined in yet it's not too late! :)

March 5, 2015

March Currently

I'm linking up with Farley tonight for Currently! I love doing these! :)

1. Listening: To 101 Dalmatians. I bought it Monday night because I love this movie, and I heard another winter storm was coming in and I thought the kids might like something new to watch! We watched it on Tuesday, Wednesday, and twice today. I think it will get lost for a week or so after tonight ;). It is so fun to see my kids love the same Disney movies I grew up with!!

2.Loving: I am so excited about the changes that are coming to me next year! I currently teach kindergarten, but next year I am going to move up to teach 4th and 5th grade Literacy and Social Studies! I started my teaching career in 3rd grade, and while I love teaching the little ones I'm excited for the new challenges that await me! :)

3. Thinking: I'm never gonna go back to school.....I haven't had a full week of school in 3 weeks, and I am so tired of all my plans getting interrupted. This snow stinks, and I'm not a fan of it anyway. I'm just trying to enjoy my kids, and get a few things done. As of right now we will be going until June 4th, and if we are out tomorrow, which I'm sure we will be, it will be June 5th before I'm officially on summer vacation.

4. Wanting: If I can't go to school I would at least like to be able to take the kids somewhere. We have some serious cabin fever.

5. Needing: To clean my house. It is a hot mess since we've been cooped up so much lately. And I need to sort out my mess of lesson plans and plan for next week. And praying for no more snow.

6. Spring Break Plans: Not a thing. :) And I'm actually happy about that this year. We are going to do some fun things around here to pass the week by, and hopefully we can get out into the sun some!

That's it for me! What are you doing??

March 1, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapters 1 & 2

I was quite inspired by the girls that went to the Ron Clark Academy, and blogged about their experience. I'm so thankful that they did. Their experiences gave me the last little kick in the pants that I needed to finish this school year strong. Anyway, I decided to join in their book study. There is nothing more exciting, or inspiring for me than teachers discussing and learning from each other. I teach at a small school where there is only 1 teacher per grade level usually and I miss having a team that is all on the same grade level. That is what I love most about teacher blogs, the sense of community and having a "team". I got my book a little late, and we were out of school all last week because of snow, except Friday, so I haven't had time to implement anything from the book yet, but I'm going to next week. :) So let's get into it, shall we??

Chapter 1: Brainstorming and Discussion

This chapter was all about talking. More specifically, the IMPORTANCE of talking. I love that this book started this way. I've seen some QUIET classrooms. Too quiet. In fact when I first started teaching I was convinced that no one would think I was a good teacher because all of the other teachers had silent classrooms, while my 3rd graders were bustling. One teacher always popped her head in my room the same time every day. And she always, ALWAYS, said, "It's pretty noisy in here don't you think? I could never work with this much noise." However, she came in every day when my literature circles were in full swing. They were discussing. I, being super new and not wanting anything said that could get me in trouble, started shushing my kids far too much. I had a great group that year, and I tried to conform to the school. It was my first year, and I made a lot of mistakes, but this was a big one. Because, I didn't stay true to myself as a teacher, and I didn't trust myself. 

Skip on 5 years down the road, and I care a lot less about what other teachers in the building think about me. I moved districts, and while there are still a lot of teachers that think a quiet room is the right kind of room I'm able to do what works for me and my kids. And talking is one of them. 

Some things that were mentioned in the book that I do already are Think-Pair-Share, I plan my essential questions for each lesson around Bloom's to make sure that I hit those higher order thinking skills, and I use A LOT of wait time. We think-pair-share about everything, especially in math. I also use this strategy a lot during my content time. I teach kindergarten now, and I'm so impressed with how far my kids have come with this strategy, and I know it's only because I model, model, model, and then they have practiced all year. Practice makes perfect for sure! Or as close to perfect as it gets ;). My principal actually requires that we use Bloom's and writes down the level in our lesson plans. At first I hated it, but now I love it because it really helps me focus in on what I want my students to know, and how to hit those higher order thinking skills. And, I use a lot of wait time. So much that it's almost uncomfortable, but it works. I had a peer review and the teacher wrote down how she thought I had too much wait time, but then she was surprised when what seemed like a terribly long time the student would come up with the right answer, and she realized it wasn't really too much time.  One thing that I do want to try is more debate. I think that would be so awesome, and I'm going to work on it with my kids the rest of the year. :)Whew, on to Chapter 2....

Chapter 2: Drawing and Art

I just wanted to shout "AMEN!" at the end of every sentence. Art is so so important, and I hate that it is being taken out of some school districts. I actually am no longer allowed to buy art supplies with my teacher supply money that we are given at the beginning of the year. That was new this year, and I was heartbroken because I always bought some new art supplies every year. So everything we do now comes out of my pocket. Art is not looked at as "quality instructional time" in my district either. Which just means that I really have to be able to justify every craft we do in case I'm ever questioned about it. Luckily, I haven't been this year, but I'm always ready just in case. My principal is actually fairly cool about projects and things as long as they are in our lesson plans. However, he doesn't make the policies regarding our supply money, and if our superintendent ever checked in I better be ready to explain everything on my walls. 

Some things that I already do that were mentioned in the chapter are that I have the students illustrate vocabulary, poetry, and in their math journals. We also do a lot of craftivities, mainly focused on literacy. Some new things that I would like to try are the murals, and incorporating more art into math. There are more things out there for math than illustrating math journals :). I'm just going to have to find/come up with them myself. :)

The most important thing from this chapter to me was that art is important. It can't be done away with. It gives kids a new way to look at things, boosts their self-esteem, fosters their creativity, and provides an outlet for kids no matter the level of their artistic ability, and it engages students in your lessons and makes them own it. :)

So far I am really enjoying this book, and I look forward to reading the next chapter! :) I'll also have pictures next time, pending us actually being in school. I heard there is more sleet coming our way     :(....