Thursday, September 26, 2013

Number the Stars

This week we began the pre-reading activities for one of my favorite books to teach from: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I haven't taught from this book in several years because I had a few years where most of the class had already read the book.  Alternatively, I taught from The Giver instead.

I cannot express just how excited I am to get their hands, minds, and hearts intertwined with the characters and storyline and I hope that they love it just as much as I do!

What's your favorite book to teach from?


Sunday, September 22, 2013

A New School Year is Under Way!

I am so blessed to have one of the best jobs in the world!  This year, I've taken on some changes and I couldn't be more excited.

We're a month in; interims have already gone home.  This year is different, though, because I have volunteered to be the only fifth grade teacher who teaches all subjects.  We went down in numbers for the incoming class and no longer needed 8 fifth grade teachers.  Since we're departmentalized, this meant one option could be that one of us would teach everything and we would continue to switch for leveling and needs-based instruction.  I JUMPED at the chance.  

I've been teaching Reading/Language Arts/Social Studies for all five years of my school's existence.  As much as I enjoy those subjects, I was missing something.  I didn't really know exactly what it was until one day while teaching a cross-curricular lesson that incorporated science I got to see it.  LIGHT BULBS!  In fifth grade, with the level of readers I've had for three (going on four) years, there was seldom something that really lit up their eyes after struggling to 'get it' and it was robbing me of a lot of the joy that is teaching!

With the changing curriculum and evolving of Common Core, I don't think I could have selected a better year to make the change.  I have the most wonderful students and I'm not beating my head up against the wall because I all of a sudden have to teach a certain concept in math that I've never had to before.  They are ALL new concepts for me (except the ones that have moved up from fourth grade standards because I taught all subjects in fourth grade prior to this school opening).  YAY!  

So now I'm always looking for ideas that will help drive a concept home for my students who struggle with math. This is SO much fun when it means that I get to see light bulbs when they GET IT!  WHOOT!

I hope everyone's years are off to a great start!

XO, kvk

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ohmygracious! Where Have I Been?

I sure do miss writing but have no idea how the time gets away from me.  I NEED to make time for my poor, pitiful blog and get this sweet little love of mine up and running again.  Truth be told, I need to get ME up and running again too.  I hope this is a start to my reentrance to blogging more regularly.  We're halfway to Friday and TWO DAYS (WHOOT WHOOT) away from being finished with the FCAT (and it'll be a good riddance kinda day)!

Have a wonderful day, friends,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tightened Security

I am so sad that it took something like this as, even after our community lost one of its angels three years ago to an abduction (Somer Thompson--to know her was to love her), that it took place off of campus didn't seem to make security on campus a tad tighter.

My hope is that the school I'm at now, which from all angles I've seen, seems to resemble the layout of Sandy Hook, will become a closed campus for which parents need to be buzzed in.  For now, doors are closing and classroom doors are being locked.  Mine has always remained locked.  Any thoughts?
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

EEEEK! My Observation is Coming!

 Okay, it isn't as though I'd normally be nervous so let me begin by putting that out there.  I mean, yes, anyone coming in with a clipboard and making marks in columns is unsettling nerve wracking, but I am NERVOUS with a capital NERVOUS!  It's for a few reasons, really.  It's a TERRIBLE time of year, as most of you know, to try and get a great assessment out of most because the kids are OFF. THE. CHAIN.  There, I said it.  They have  Christmahanakwanzikafeveritis. 
If that's not enough, many of them are missing about every other day because of the schmeg that's going around, so the building onto my lessons is missing a few legs of the framework for those students.  I also have a new AP who will be observing me and she doesn't really know much about me or my teaching style (that I know of, but I'm sure that she does her homework).  She had another teacher in tears last week because the teacher was meeting standards on many of her points and she wasn't used to that.  But that is the thing, it's also a new observation tool.  In Florida, we have gone to a new tool about which our administrators have been drilling into our heads at faculty meetings that its is EXTREMELY difficult to exceed the standards.  Ummmmm, that's not acceptable!  I've been working so much harder and (I'd like to believe) smarter this year to come up with something, ANYTHING that will work with the 'difficult-to-describe-in-just-one-post' groups I have this year.

Higher order thinking?  Not natural for them.  Self control?  Only when they feel like it.  Respect for the tall people (adults) in the school?  Maybe next week, but it's not looking good.  2013 doesn't seem to be in their immediate plans for that either.  Most of this, I've opted to handle with Whole Brain Teaching and Daily Five Instruction using an incorporation of Reader's Workshop and Guided Reading as well.  I'm spinning my wheels here to get it all in.

Now, the reason that all of this is stressing me out (on top of the fact that I have been sick and have low energy anyway) is because this is the first year using this observation tool in this way and this is also my last year in our district.  SO, depending on how this observation goes, it could have a positive or a negative affect on my job hunt for next year in a different district in Florida, five hours away (where my reputation as a dedicated educator does not matter).  My fate lies in the hands of my munchkins.

Oh well, all I can do is my best and hope that it goes well at this point.  I'm pretty sure sleeping is going to be out of the question for the night anyway.

Anyone else have any observation entertaining stories to ease my troubled mind?

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dork and Wimpy Kid Woes

Hey there gang!  I am wondering if I can get some feedback from some many y'all (hey, I live in the south and 'when in Rome', right?).  When you're in the workshop model, do you dictate the type of books that your children read?  I typically have them reading from a chapter book on their level but have run into a lot of Diary (Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries) readers.  Do you feel like you're getting well thought out, higher-order-thinking-type responses from your children that actually apply the skill taught in the mini-lesson?  I feel like I'm at a crossroads and am really not wanting them to read those while applying the skill, but then at the same time it means I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth because it is, by definition, a chapter book and they're leveled at or near the child's level (EXCEPT it does NOT follow the five-finger rule).

What are your thoughts?  Do you allow your children to read the comic book style chapter books for mini-lesson application?
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