Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I'm Done!

I am officially done with student teaching! After one more semester, I will be a college graduate.

Now, I'm heading home to celebrate Christmas, unpack, repack, and relax. Unfortunately, I did not finish all of the blog posts I wanted to write this past semester, so bear with me this Christmas break as I go back and fill in my adventures in student teaching. I'll add them close to the actual dates, so if you're reading a new blog post from October, don't worry.

I hope everyone is enjoying your last week of school before break!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Student Teaching in Special Education

     For the second half of my student teaching this fall, I was in a special education classroom in a 4th-6th grade school. My teacher and I spent time with our students pulled out to our room during parts of the day, but we also went into classrooms to aid the inclusion teachers, especially during math class. The district mandated that low-performing students work with a phonics computer program for 25 minutes every day, so many of our students spent a chunk of their time in our room do that. I also used different reading programs to help and aided them with homework or projects that needed additional assistance.
     This placement taught me about parents and communication more than anything else. I constantly had to communicate with parents and other teachers. The first week at the school, there were student-led parent conferences, which was a great place for me to introduce myself. At these conferences, several parents made requests for various things, and it became my job to fill it. This included specially made lined paper to help the student write and give space for editing and indenting paragraphs, behavior intervention plans, and a workbook for a student to complete for fun at her house. One visually impaired student also requested a giant multiplication chart for her to take home (the teacher had made one the week before I came for school), so I scanned and taped it on to a giant poster board for one giant multiplication chart. 

     Every day I communicated with parents through the students' assignment notebooks. I was very glad to have this experience working with the parents and other staff closely because that is often a side of teaching I did not have the opportunity to experience as just a college student. I even attended several IEP meetings with parents' permission and led one, including completing most of the paper work and completing all communication with the parent.
     Well, that was my second experience in a nutshell. I was frustrated with it at times because I felt like I couldn't work with students much, but I did learn many things, especially about communication. I even attended the fifth grade field trip to the planetarium! Also, having fourth, fifth, and sixths graders was very different than my little first graders during the first part of student teaching, but I love them all! Oh, also at this school, I had my first few Amish students and was in a school where all students were given iPads to use during school (sixth graders could take them home). If you're interested in hearing more, I'd love to share, just let me know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Liebster Award

Thank you to Allison Burgess at Teacher Life in Room 102 for nominating me for the Liebster Award. The Libester Award is for newer blogs with less than 200 followers, which definitely describes me. It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and help spread the words of their blog.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator gave you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot "tag back" the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with URL of your Liebster post so they can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

11 Random Things about Me
1. My first job was working at a farm stand.
2. I played the flute in our school band from 4th to 12th grade and would like to find a way to keep it up.
3. My roommate's dog is named Junie B. after the book, except for her B. stands for Bella.
4. I am signed up to run a half marathon in May.
5. I love scrapbooking with my mom and am currently working on finishing my senior year of high school.
6. My youngest cousin is in first grade, and there's another one on the way!
7. In January all the senior elementary education majors at my school go on a trip to Washington D.C., and I'm super excited!
8. Children books are my favorite thing. I never seemed to grow past the young adult books, and even some of those I don't like.
9. I love making ceramics and have taken a few different classes in high school and college.
10. Next semester, I have two classes at the exact same time. I want to ask my professor for a time turner like Hermione has in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
11. I love white chocolate covered pretzels!

11 Questions from Allison
1. Why did you decide to start blogging?
I decided to start blogging to connect with wiser teachers, document what I have been doing, and hopefully grow to the point where I am helping other teachers.

2. What piece of advice would you give to a first year teacher?
Since I haven't yet had my first year of teaching, I'll give a piece of advice to student teachers. My top two pieces of advice are be sure to communicate clearly and be creative. With communication, I would add to be sure to talk with your teacher and make sure that you understand their expectations immediately. Also, now is the time for creative lessons. Too often, I felt constrained by school or district curriculum expectations, but realistically, as a student teacher my teachers would have understood if I was more creative since this was my "trial run."

3. What is your best memory of teaching, so far?
My favorite memory goes back to when I was student teaching in first grade earlier this semester. I had the opportunity to start Writers' Workshop. I knew the students needed motivation and prepared lessons to do that for the first week. We had so much fun! It was exciting to see the whole class go from hating writing to it being their favorite subject. Here is my blog post with more details. I also love reading aloud! That is one of my favorite day to day things.

4. Year round school, or not year round school? Which would you prefer?
I haven't thought too much about this, but year round schools have always intrigued me. I like the idea of not having the whole summer, where so often students fall back a few levels. Having a few couple of week breaks would be fun. Of course, it could be hard learning in the summer, knowing that other schools aren't in session. I have always been part of a not year round school though, so that is what I know, and I have learned to work with it.

5. What is your biggest challenge in teaching?
I've come to realize that how strictly I am required to follow curriculum is an issue. At the first school I student taught at, math was my least favorite subject since we followed a curriculum that I did not find appropriate for my class. As a grade level, we tried to skip a lesson or teach it in a different way since we knew that it would not make sense for our classes and were told that we needed to directly follow the provided curriculum since it is research based. Looking at pre- and post-test scores that I took, I could see that all of my students did learn, but none of us had fun doing it. In my second experience, the students were required to work on a computer program for 25 minutes everyday while I had them. This took up most of the time, and they did not enjoy it. Overall, I found that having more freedom in my lesson planning encouraged me to be creative. I was able to plan lessons that I was excited for, which in turn made my students have fun while they were learning.

6. What is one of your most favorite lessons/topics to teach?
I don't really have a favorite lesson or topic yet. During my student teaching, I really enjoyed my introduction to Writers' Workshop, Columbus Day project, health lessons, and of course, reading aloud. Reading aloud is always one of my favorite times during the day.

7. What do you do to keep school life and personal life separated?
This has not been much of a problem for me this past fall, so I'm not exactly sure how to answer.

8. When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?
I thought about being a teacher when I was little. My friends and I loved playing school and debated who would be the teacher that day. However, I did not really know until the end of my sophomore year of college. My freshman year, I was a math major (note: NOT math ed.), but I took an education class just because I was interested in it. We had a lab, and when asked where I would like to be I told the professor lower elementary. I had just gotten out of high school, and I certainly did not want to be placed in a high school or even middle school math classroom. I was placed in second grade and loved it! I still was uncertain until I had to make a final decision at the end of my sophomore year. All of my junior classes were elementary education classes. Next semester, I am actually finishing a few el. ed. classes that I should have taken my freshman year (but weren't required for student teaching for people like me).

9. What is your favorite subject to teach?
Similar to favorite lesson/topics, I don't have a favorite yet. Knowing that I was a math major, most people would assume I love to teach math, but that's not always the case. In my first experience, I loved teaching Writers' Workshop and health, because I had the freedom to plan my own lessons, which made my students and I excited about them.

10. What is your best classroom management advice?
Be confident! If there is one thing I have learned, it is that you can pull off anything if you are confident in yourself.

11. What resource do you use most to find teaching ideas?
I love using other teachers' blogs, Pinterest, and google to find ideas. I have also used ideas from past classes, both in college and elementary school classrooms I have visited.

Blogs I Nominate
(Sorry if you've already received this award; it was taking too long to find eleven without.)
1. Beach Lovin' Teach
2. Blooming Kiddos
3. Kindergarten Kel
4. Lovely Literacy & More
5. Teaching: The Art of Possibility
6. Tales from a Traveling Teacher
7. The Crazy Adventures of a University Grad
8. The Loco Teacher
9. The School Potato
10. 2nd Grade Frosting
11. Creative Lesson Cafe

11 Questions for my Nominees
1. How long have you been teaching?
2. What is your favorite children's book?
3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
4. Why did you decide to teach?
5. What is something you want for Christmas?
6. What is one of your favorite teaching memories?
7. What is one memory you have from when you were in elementary school?
8. Tell me about how you found your first job.
9. How do you like to assess students?
10. What is your favorite song?
11. What advice would you give to a first year teacher (like I'll be next year)?

Let me know what you thought of my answers. If you answer my questions, please give me a link to your blog. Even if I didn't nominate you, you can still answer the questions by leaving a comment.

Thank you Allison!

Friday, October 19, 2012

It's Not a First Grade Experience Without...

     October 18 was my last day at my first grade experience. The rest of my student teaching will be at a different school in a special education classroom. It was very sad to have to leave these first graders that I have gotten to know and a school I have grown to love.

     The last day in first grade was very fun! We had a field trip to a local health center, where the students learned more about nutrition and exercise. I taught my students a health unit to prepare them for this trip, and it was exciting to see them to correctly answer the questions the presenter asked them. My students did really well for our first field trip. The only problem we had was some students started to lie back on the carpeted stairs they were sitting on. I asked several students to sit up throughout the program; one boy gave me a look back that said, "really, I don't feel well." Later, I shared this with my teacher while the students were at specials, and she told me that he fell asleep on the bus on the way back to school.

     During our last thirty minutes together, the students gave me cards that they had made earlier in the week. Then, I read a Pigeon book and Scaredy Squirrel. I sent the students back to their seats so that I could hand out the little gift bags I brought for them. Then, one of the students came up to me and said, "So-and-so just threw up." They have said this before and were not correct, but sure enough he actually had this time. Also, my teacher had just stepped out of the room. I took care of it, sending him to the office with an adult I spotted in the hallway. When my teacher came back, she laughed and said, "I guess it just is not a first grade experience without someone throwing up." Then, I handed out the goodie bags and gave the children hugs as they walked out to the buses. It was the best last day I could have asked for (minus some throw-up).
      I am really going to miss my class and am looking forward to going back a few times to visit. The cards that my first graders gave me were so encouraging and funny. Here's a look at some of my favorites.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Columbus Day Writings and Bulletin Board

     On Columbus Day, my teacher wanted me to do a lesson about Christopher Columbus. Usually she has the students complete a writing, which goes in the hallway. I was fine with doing something for the hallways, but I wanted it to be something the students would enjoy too. Looking for ideas I came across a pin like this one. I thought that doing a picture like this would be fun for the kids because they rarely have the chance to use paint (my teacher did not even have any). Since this was the only lesson I was teaching, I knew that I could pull them out earlier in the day for their handprint.
     First in the lesson, I talked about Christopher Columbus, showing them where he was from, wanted to go, and actually landed on the globe. Then, I made a story web with key details they remembered from what I had said. Next, the students completed their writing. I required them to have two well-written, complete sentences in their neatest handwriting. I used the pictures as an incentive. They needed to do their best work on the writing before they would receive their handprint to complete the picture. The boats were their handprints, and they colored water and other things with their crayons or markers. Finally, we added three paper sails that I had cut out. I love that this illustration uses a variety of mediums. The projects turned out very well! Here are a few of my favorites:


     When I hung the writings in the hallway, my teacher asked me to use our bulletin board as well. I titled it "Sailing with Columbus" in white like a cloud and wrote the objective "We can write in complete sentences" in blue for the water. Then, I added a big ship as the Santa Maria and two smaller ones for the Pinta and Nina. I also put the work of three different students on the board.


     Overall, this was a very fun project. My students loved the pictures, and I did too! Let me know what you think. This project could also work for learning about the Mayflower or other ships.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Band-Aid Stories

      During Writers' Workshop, I have allowed my students to free write, except the first month always had to be a small moment from your life (district wide for first grade). Sometimes, I would suggest things they could write about such as a recently lost tooth, but ultimately, it is up to them.

     One idea I gave them was to write a Band-Aid story. This was someting we did in my early childhood education class a few years ago. The students write a story about a time when they got hurt. When it is all done and well illustrated, they can put an actual Band-Aid on their picture. This is great because a Band-Aid is a wonderful motivator. I only let my students receive one if they did their best work. Also, it can be done with almost any grade level. In preschool, the teacher could write a dictated sentence. My first graders could have only written one page, but many of them wrote much more! Older students can continue writing more but they may like it just the same.

Here are some examples of my students' work:

 my ElreShic bick acksdit (My Electric Bike Accident)
I wet on my elreshrick bick I... wet in the grass then i wett in the shret. i fel on the shret i got a blodey ney it hrtid naw i am hrst it hrsts. MoMy im bling. dot it Look LiKe it hrst!!- i know seid MoMy i no i what to frow up iuy it is naste yoce pee you.

 My Bandad Story

 Me and my 1 sister and my 1 BFF wint roler skating! We scrapt ar ne!

 My BFF fel of ov the monci bars she seid!

My sister fel of the trampin!

the day I fell of my bike
 One time a go I was riading my biek with my Dad. I fell of my bikc. I criad a lot owch!


     Now for the last story. If you read the whole thing, it is very well-written for a first grader, and I'll continue writing it so that you can actually see. If you don't care to read the more than ten page story, I don't blame you. I just can't help to show off my students' work though and prove how much first graders can write at the BEGINNING of the year. I will fix the capital letters when I am typing it though because I need to for the sanity in typing it.

The Terabll Fall
Didcattit to Peyton
One time I whattid to go to the play grownd. Mom can I go!

One time I was playing on the slid. I got tiadd of playing on the slid. So I wint somewrelese.  
I watted to play on the mokey bari's and...

That's is what i did

I fell off the mokey baris and I hret my leg it was bad! I ask't my grandma can I have a banddade?

I fiunly fond her.

She said yes

She gave a banddade.


My leg fellt bettr. Now I have a banddade to ramind me mot to evre hang upsied down on the mokey baris agein.

Now I do not play on the mokey bri's aney mroe!

I hop it is not my brother's tane (turn)!

It is!
Now my brother has to get a banddade. The end!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Food Groups

     During science/health, we are learning about being healthy. In two weeks, we are taking a field trip to a place where we will learn more about being healthy. I spent two days teaching about the different food groups. On the first day, we looked at the food groups on a food pyramid handout that my teacher copied for us to use. Then, I had put a paper piece of food on their desks. They had to color it and decide which group it belonged in. Next, we met on the carpet and put our foods on the food plate, where we discussed how we should have something from each of these groups at most of our meals. Here is the food plate anchor chart we made:
I am still working on my anchor chart making skills. I ran out of room for the s on food groups and wrote the other words too small, but I am improving! At least it didn't smear too much, which is usually my problem, being left-handed. My words are also consistent in size, which is something else I have been working on while I am writing large enough for my students to read. On another note, I love these giant post-it note charts.

     On the second day, we started by reviewing the food groups using a worksheet that had the groups with some foods that did not belong. We crossed out the foods that did not belong in that food group. Then, we started our food plate projects. Together, we divided our plates into five sections with dairy in the middle. Then, I passed out ads from our local grocery store. They searched through the ad, cutting out one food to put in each section.

     Having the worksheet from earlier really helped some who struggled, plus they could look at the chart from the day before. Overall, I think my class did a great job! Some did not finish that day, but I gave them time another day to draw in a food from the groups that they were missing.


     This week, we will continue covering things we can do to be healthy such as exercising and keeping our bones strong. What do you do to teach health in your classroom? Please leave me comments. I love each and every one.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ways to Make Ten - Rainbow Style

     For the last three lessons that I would be teaching math to my first graders, I knew that I wanted to make them the best yet. I had taken a break from teaching math for a little bit to observe my teacher (since I did not observe her before I began), but I was ready to do the last few lessons and finish with a bang. The first day, we had to learn which numbers add to make ten. The second day, they found the missing part of ten (how to subtract from ten). My last day teaching math, we worked on problem solving using charts.

     I wanted to plan an engaging lesson that would still go with our curriculum and use part of it since that is expected (see a previous post). On Pinterest, I saw a pin with a rainbow to teach the numbers that add to be ten. It was from Dawn Gray's blog, Blooming Kiddos. She made a fabulous worksheet that used this rainbow to teach about  adding 3 addends. I decided it would be great to make a similar worksheet for the beginning of the year since my first graders are only learning which numbers make ten now.

     My students loved this activity! I warned them that I was mainly grading them on how well they listened, which meant that they could not work ahead. First graders love to color and love rainbows, so this was perfect to incorporate in with our math lesson.

   When we completed our rainbow sheet, the students did the inside of the enVision lesson independently. When they finished and had it checked by me, I sent them to the carpet area. They playing a finger game where one person would hold up however many fingers they wanted. The partner had to hold up how many more fingers it would take to equal ten. This was a simple and quiet activity, and it kept them occupied while I helped a couple of struggling students. It was also a great lead into the following day's lesson, where we found the missing parts of ten (subtraction).

     When teaching subtraction, we worked on dry erase boards. I sent groups off to play a matching game. I used pumpkin die-cuts and wrote the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 on them. They put all of the cards face down. Then, they played like a usual matching game with their partner, except that matches were the two numbers that added to make ten. Most students enjoyed this game a lot with the exception of a few partners who had to return to their seats because they were not working together or were too loud.

     Now, it's freebie time! In case you wanted a copy of the fabulous rainbow worksheet, here it is(inspired by Dawn Gray and Pinterest). You can also click on the picture. Enjoy! Does anyone see the mistake in the example I posted? Please leave me a comment, especially if you grab a freebie. I love reading every one!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Update and Currently

      It's a new month! I love October with the leaves changing colors and pumpkins. It is nice to love being warm again. This weekend I wanted to go to a corn maze, but unfortunately it's raining all weekend and cold. Instead, I think I will spend my weekend in warm, comfy clothes by our fake fireplace with hot chocolate at my side. Hopefully, I will be working on my portfolio instead of surfing the web or playing on Pinterest. Here is my October currently from Farley's Oh' Boy 4th Grade:
    The past week in student teaching (first grade) I was teaching almost all day if not all day. Next week, I start decreasing my load already down to only one subject, which makes me sad. Soon though, I will be at my special education placement, which is so exciting! I love first grade, but it is also exciting to have two placements.

I hope you have a good weekend! Please comment below. I think having a linky party, sharing our school pictures from when we were in the grade we are teaching now. I'm not sure how to throw one, and it won't work well with only ten followers. If you have an idea, let me know.

Funny story from today, or at least it was at the time:
     One student was playing with her pants when we sat on the carpet for ten minutes. She ended up tying the bottom of her pants in a knot. When she got up, she went and sat down, quietly asking me to help her untie it. I told her I would help her when everyone started working during Writing Workshop. I completely forgot! She was working so diligently, while most of my students would raise their hand to continue asking me. One the way to art, I noticed that they were still tied together! She walked all the way to art like that. Then, I pulled her aside, apologized for forgetting, and worked to untie it. She said, "This will take half of art class." I struggled to assure her that is would not. After a few minutes, I got it untied. She said, "Thank you. That was so embarrassing!" The way she said it was hysterical. I felt so bad that I forgot about it, but she definately will not be tying her pants together anytime soon.