Friday, July 15, 2016

Be a Gas Station

When I asked my first graders "Do you have big dreams for your teeth?" Josie took my question to heart. Months later, according to her dear mother, she was still fervently brushing and challenging her siblings to have big dreams for their teeth too. Some students are like that. They're naturally inclined to love everything about learning. I think just maybe I could teach those children with my eyes closed. Then there are the tough customers who occupy a space in my brain 24/7, because I constantly struggle to find a way to engage their hearts. 

One of my goals this year is to be a better gas station. Josie was intrinsically motivated and independent in her learning. I filled up her gas tank when needed and off she'd go again while I cheered her on from the sidelines. Being a gas station is rewarding for both teacher and student, and it's a whole lot easier than dragging children along like a tow truck would. Being a tow truck is an exhausting job. I'd venture to say that it isn't much fun for the student either. Not to mention, it simply doesn't work.  

I discovered this brilliant analogy on Kristine Mraz's kindergarten blog. Everything on this blog is brilliant. I challenge you to read her thoughts, and regardless of your grade level, tell me she didn't have something to offer you. Especially read the post below. It's too good to pass up. (Click on the graphic.)





Let's park our tow trucks and build some more gas stations. Our kids deserve it.


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Friday, July 8, 2016

Finding Flow

Flow. 

I've experienced it in my room. It has a magical, satisfying feel to it. I've also experienced what the untrained eye might believe is flow but is actually a classroom of compliant students who are simply on task. It's all a masquerade. So how we do convert those on-task moments into ones where students are completely engaged? This blog post below offers some wonderful suggestions. It's an inspiring read. 

So wait no further. 

Go find your flow.


Click on the graphic to read the post.



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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Is Your Child Getting a Good Writing Education?

Last week the title of this article caught my eye. 


Even though I'm not a parent, I had to read it. I yearned to know what those four questions were and ponder the possible answers my writers would offer their parents. 

Of course one needs to ask the right questions. I dare say these four hit the nail on the head.

Bottom line? I'm the one who determines whether my students are getting a good writing education or not, and if you teach writing, you determine that as well. 

So this is essentially a must-read article. 

Click on the title. You won't be sorry.



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Monday, July 4, 2016

June Reads Galore

June was a month full of books. Even though it might seem like I did nothing but read, I also spent a day on a district math curriculum committee, took a four-day class, took a trip to Seattle and the Oregon Coast, and spent some time thinking school. :)


4 stars

5 stars

5 stars

5 stars

4 stars

2 stars

3 stars

3 stars

3 stars

2 stars

4 stars

2 stars

3 stars

5 stars

5 stars

4 stars

3 stars

2 stars

4 stars

2 stars

My favorites: 

* Cinder and its sequels (a.k.a. The Lunar Chronicles) - This is a futuristic fantasy YA series. I found the last of the series slightly predictable at times but so very engaging.

* Graceling - This is another fantasy YA book. I didn't want to put it down.

* If You Find Me - This YA realistic fiction is gripping and full of secrets.

* Goodbye Stranger - I really enjoyed this YA too. It has its share of secrets too.

*The Elephant Whisperer - This book is for animal lovers. The book will give you a new appreciation for elephants and the people who work with them.

I noticed that some of the books that I didn't rate highly did very well on Goodreads, so I guess you can't believe everything you read on my blog. :)

P.S. My summer book total since school ended is 26 books. Not too shabby.



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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Traveling Visual

Does anyone else still struggle to help their littlest people with b and d? I was pretty sure I had seen all the tricks of the trade until this last year when I thought I invented a new one. Come to find out it wasn't so new, and I still wonder how in the world I just came to know about it 22 years into my career, but it really makes a ton of sense. Maybe there's someone else out there who hadn't seen this either. Anyway, I realized that you can make a lowercase b and d on each hand as a way to check on directionality. Since b comes before d in the alphabet, the kids could tell that b is on their left hand and d is on the right. The best part of this trick is that the visual is mobile. It travels with them wherever they go. They don't need to look anywhere but on their hands. Brilliant!




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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ready, Set, Read!

You've come to the right place if you're looking for some good summer reads. Below is a list of books I read in April and May. Enjoy!

April

5 stars

3 stars

4 stars

2 stars

5 stars

3 stars

May

 3 stars

4 stars

5 stars

4 stars

4 stars

Favorites:
Glass Sword - It's the 2nd in a YA series. I didn't want to put it down.
7 - This is a thoughtful read by a Christian author about excess. It's thought-provoking.
We Are All Made of Molecules - This is another superb YA. The protagonist is truly endearing.
Spellman Series - It took me a bit to get into the rhythm of the first book, but once I found it, I was hooked. It's light and funny.
Salt to the Sea - I can thank Miss Trayers for this one. This is a YA historical fiction from the WWII era. It's gripping.
The Good Girl - Surprising. That's all I'll say.

Ready, set, read!


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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday Sayings: Teacher Location





Is it possible that the location of the teacher in the classroom could be an indicator as to whether the activity really matters? 


Read on to find out what I think.

Proximity. It's very possibly the first thing every teacher learned in their classroom management course in college, and there's a good reason why. It works. Whether with first graders or adult drivers and police cars, proximity is an easy and effective management strategy.

This is one of the reasons why I never sit at my desk when the children are in the room. I acknowledge that the secondary world is a bit different. My cousin Laurie can sit at her desk while her AP seniors spend the class period independently writing timed essays, but I can't think of a time when using the teacher desk as a stopping place is appropriate in the elementary classroom. In fact, I would venture to say that if an elementary teacher is sitting at his/her desk, the children are not doing something worthwhile. If the activity matters, then the teacher will:

want to observe students
ask questions
interact
nudge
take notes
check on understanding
prevent possible behavior issues
show students they're invested in every part of the day

None of this can happen without proximity and constant movement. And if the teacher doesn't need to do any of the above things and can sit at a desk instead, then the children obviously shouldn't be doing what they're doing either.


Is it possible that the location of the teacher in the classroom could be an indicator as to whether the activity really matters?

I say yes.


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