Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It looked like spilt milk.

I'm not sure if it's Common Core or Essential Standards {is anyone else confused switching back and forth?!} or just the fact that we've hired a full-time Science Lab teacher this year {who is amazing!} but our science concepts have changed immensely this year.  Technically we are only teaching 4 concepts, 1 per, measurement, animals & tools.  Well, that leaves a lot to be desired so while we're continue to explore those concepts in the Science Lab, we're definitely pulling out some of the oldies-but-goodies to teach more in the classroom.

For our quarter one objective of weather, we combined our knowledge of clouds and rain to make this little display in the hallway:

After reading It looked like spilt milk by Charles G. Shaw, we tore up pieces of white paper to create our own cloud pictures.  In the past when I've read this book, our follow-up has been to squirt some white paint on the blue paper, fold it in half, smooth the paper around and open it to find a symmetrical white shape but my kinders had a hard time {year after year} trying to figure out what that white blob looked like.  I'm super happy about how the paper tearing worked out this year.  I modeled by gluing my pieces down in a high heel shape {which, of course, they recognized!} and then made their own.  I will definitely be using this follow-up from now on.

I typed a sentence structure into a cloud modeled after the story so the students could tell me what their cloud picture was and I extended it to add somewhat of a pre-assessment piece when I asked students to predict what clouds are made of.  The next week when we learned more about clouds and rain, we wrote various facts and students chose on to write on their raindrop.  Complete with blue glitter...of course.  ;)

Here's two examples:

If you'd like my cloud outline, click the pic below!
{yes, it's just a speech bubble and I didn't cut out the thinking parts}

We're now taking a break from weather to introduce {my favorite!} all things fall...coming soon!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What teachers really want to tell parents.

Ron Clark is an amazing educator who really gets children and how to reach them. He knows that respect, manners and an encouraging environment must be in place before anything academic will stick. Google his name and you'll find accolades from multiple sources, clips of his students performing for the president and countless teachers telling how they've used strategies of music and student interest to create better lessons.  Or better yet, for his whole story, watch the made-for-TV movie The Ron Clark story starring Matthew Perry.

In case none of that is ringing a bell, I wanted to give you a little background to be sure you understand the credibility of the article I'm about to post.  If you've been an educator at all, even if this is still your first month of your first year, chances are good that you've already encountered a parent who doesn't respect you as an authority figure or who has already challenged a rule or consequence their child has faced.  Please hear me say that there are many good families and parents out there and that I am not at all stereotyping every grade school parent as disrespectful.  The unfortunate truth of it is, though, that as educators in the current school system, our credibility, authority and basic perception as professionals goes down every year.  Not because we aren't doing our jobs and not even because we're bogged down with paperwork & other things that are so prevalent in the education system.  No, the credibility of teachers continues to go down because how we're perceived by society continues to drop.

Ron Clark had the opportunity to talk about this issue with CNN and I think he made some clear and valid points.  Click on his picture for the article.

Now, how do we get parents to read this with an open heart and mind?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

life management.

Ladies {because I'm assuming your husbands and boyfriends are currently parked on the couch in front of football like mine},

I'm having a struggle.  This is a new school year for us all, full of many exciting & new things.  For me, the list includes but is not limited to...teaching inclusion.  special need students.  additional 45 minutes in the day.  common core.  new science objectives.  new social studies curriculum.  new behavior plan.  {hopefully soon} new puppy in the new house complete with a new and longer commute to work.  And I have to say, I'm taking it all in stride!  Except for one thing...

no. time. to. blog.

Our bell schedule has been extended by 45 minutes in an effort to cut the budget by way of having less bus drivers {who are also working longer days by the time they get our kids home around 5 o'clock but that's another story}.  On top of it, our day has been backed up with a later start and end time.  Like many of you, I'm a teach-a-holic working extra hours, not for the money {ha!} but because it's necessary to give my students what they need.  Now I'm running around in 20 minutes or so after school trying to set up for the next day before getting in my car and driving half an hour home to stay just ahead of the city traffic.  By the time I get home, it's after five o'clock, I work in my office until dinner's ready {because I'm lucky enough to have a husband who cooks!} then it's about an hour with him before I have to go to bed early in order to get up extra early to get ahead of the city traffic going back in.

I apologize for the semi-rant, but I just have to do you ladies do it?!  I just can not find the time to get online with you all like I used to when we dismissed at 2:45.  I was getting on to complain when I saw a comment from Pam at Can Do Kinders, who was awarding me for being one of her top 10 favorite blogs.  {thank you!!!}  When I read her reasoning, "So many great ideas and so positive!  She is the best!" I was both humbled and smacked in the face for my desire to vent.  So for all of you who are sticking with me while I'm AWOL and all of you feeling the crunch of a new school year with new challenges AND especially you mothers who are juggling all of this plus kids of your own...I give this to you.

I know it's probably against the rules and I apologize for not choosing just 10, but I think we all deserve a little recognition for the hours, the frustrations, the challenges and the exercise of just managing life.  And hey, while we're at it...why not a freebie?  Pour yourself another glass of wine {just wait for the cheer of a touchdown and you'll completely go unnoticed} and take a few moments to do the things we love the most.  Browse blogs and research Pinterest, those things that force you to relax.  Just be sure to leave some recognition and a little appreciation in your wake.

Click for a letter sorting activity for your newest of learners!

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