Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fit To Teach

I have another blog, which I actually have a link to in this blog called "Fit to Teach." I started it almost exactly one year ago on 8/24/14.  I intended it to help me stay on track, but I got somewhat blindsided by a tough year and gave up once again.  However, as I tell my students, you only fail when you give up.  So I'm at it again.  Lately I've just been using it as a log for my weight lifting workouts which I intend to keep up this year again!

I was going to post something I discovered  just recently but figured it would be worth sharing with other teachers who may not be inclined to read my fitness blog.  Now this is not new at all but it has me so excited!  I love to walk for my "cardio" exercise in addition to lifting weights and I usually make a Spotify playlist and go.  Well, for some reason my playlist wasn't doing it for me and I started surfing around on my phone while I walked (actually I stopped at corner since I did fall one time while trying to use the internet on my phone and walk at the same time!) Anyway I stumbled onto Bam! Radio Network and I am now hooked!

I can listen to 3-5 clips at a time and get 45-50 minute walks in all while learning a ton!  I LOVE it!!
I've been hitting my 5 mile+ goal everyday and almost got 10 miles on Friday!  I also like the fact that I don't let myself listen to it unless I"m walking so I'm getting 10 min mini walks in every once in a while too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blogging Challenge FAIL

I am admitting defeat with this blogging challenge.  Loved the prompts and wanted to do it, but it wasn't meant to be.

Two weeks left of summer vacation and I am really excited to get back to school.  Am I the only weird teacher out there that misses school when its out?  I really love the challenge and excitement of the school year.  Last year flew by and I am looking forward to my second year of 5th and 6th grade.  I am also excited and a little nervous to work with a brand new in house instructional coach this year.  This will be a new experience as well and I am hoping to learn a lot from her!

Yesterday I attended a workshop on analyzing student work.  Very informative and the workshop is part of a series taking place this year.  The best part was making connections with other teachers in my grade level.  Since I am the only 5/6 math teacher in my school it is going to be awesome collaborating with others who are teaching the same thing.  We are pretty much using the same the curriculum!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 6

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 6: Explain- What does a good mentor “do”?

I think that there should be two types of mentors.  One who mentors a brand new teacher and one who mentors a new to the school teacher.
For the brand new teacher, the mentor should be in the same subject area and possibly the same grade.  That mentor should be really involved, they should share common planning time, review lessons, be available for peer observations, and just be a lifeline for that new teacher.  I think that first year is pretty stressful and if there was someone you can trust to show you what to stress over and what to let go would also be a big help.

I also think any new hire teacher should have mentor no matter how many years they have been teaching. I think this mentor should be more like a buddy who's "got your back".

This year we have a ton of new teachers especially since we have expanded K-3 grades and added an additional section to each.  I know the principal keeps talking about implementing a new mentor program, but she hasn't said much about it.  Whatever she decides to do, I plan on being a help to these new teachers however I can.

Friday, August 7, 2015

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 5

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 5: Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see –and what you don’t see that you’d like to.
This is my bulletin board right outside my classroom.  I HATE it!  It goes from the ceiling to the floor and is a B**** to cover with paper.  Plus the student lockers are directly across from it in the narrow hallway, which means it is always getting ripped and torn and awful!  I really want to plan out a year worth of boards in advance this year since we have to update them every month.

Here is my word wall, which I end up using the whole wall, not just the little board.  I leave the words up all year.  

My desk area.  I usually start the year with my desk facing out but by the middle I turn it around to have more room.

This is my back wall next to my desk.  I never really know what to do with the big bulletin board.  Last year I had the "how to learn math"  stuff that was all over Pinterest, and left it up all year.  Underneath are two of my only shelves where I will store all of my class textbooks.  

This view shows my desks.  I really love these desks, but I wish my room was bigger so that I could make other configurations with them.  They really only fit when I have them in four groups of four with a group of two.  You an also see in the back there my bins for the class portfolios.  Another goal I have this year is to plan out really good assignments to go in these folders.  Last year I just used the benchmarks, but I would like to use more problem solving type assignments.

This picture and the one above it are on either side of my white board.  I use one for 5th grade and one for 6th grade. This is where I put the homework and objective for the day.  I really like having the two boards for this purpose and will continue again this year.

This is above my white board.  I have a number line, the 8 MPs and a place value chart.

I guess that's it for my room. These pictures were taken last year and I'm not planning any major changes. Except for the back bulletin board. I decorated loosely with a superhero theme which I really liked and will continue with this year. I also really like red/white/blue so it fits.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 4

What do you love most about teaching?

Living with a person who absolutely hates his job (my poor hubby) makes me even more aware of how much I truly love everything about teaching.

I never ever feel like I am going to "work" and I am actually sad during the summer.  I can't really pick one thing that I love most.  
I absolutely love my students. Even when I think I have a challenging group or student, I am able to separate the student and the behavior.  I also love when I can see the light-bulbs go off for a student that has been struggling.  I think that is what really made me realize I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.  I can remember that feeling from my own days as a struggling student and there is nothing like it!

I also love the continual learning and growth that comes with this profession.  Before I became a teacher I was always reading self improvement books and learning new hobbies.  I love that every day is a chance to learn something new and that I will never stop striving for improvement.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#ReflectiveTeacher Blogging Challenge Day 1, 2 and 3!

Each summer it seems I stumble across a blogging challenge or book study that I can blog about. This summer is no different.  I happened to notice one of my favorite blogs in my reader, and was so excited to see a new post. Then when I read that Sarah was participating in a blog challenge, I was like "Cool!"  I knew there was another blogging challenge going on, but when I saw the prompts for this one, I knew I had to join it. I'm already a day  or so behind, but I'll just jump in anyway!

Reflective Teaching: A 30-Day Blogging Challenge For Teachers

Day 1

Write your goals for the school year. Be as specific or
abstract as you’d like to be!

As always, my number one goal and priority is student achievement.  What does that mean?  I would like to see my students score above 70% on our four benchmark exams.  Last year was our first year using Achievement Network and I have to say I really like it.  They give us a very detailed report on what will be assessed each interim and the bar is set high.   Unlike the standardized testing at the end of the year, I like that these are given every 6 weeks and we get our results immediately.  I use the benchmark as a "unit test" for my students so that I'm not over testing them.  I really believe if they are doing well on these tests they will have learned what they needed to for the year.

Another goal I have is to refine my grading policy and move more towards something like standards based grading.  Last year I gave my students the chance to retake all of their concept checks.  I also stopped giving F's or zeros.  If students didn't get a 70 or higher, I wrote "not yet" on their paper.  I was really hoping that students would take advantage of this and work on bringing up the grade.  Sadly, they did not and would wait until the last minute and desperately try to retake everything they did not pass.  Since my students are only 5th and 6th graders, I know I need to take a little more control for them and not let them wait so long.

Day 2

Write about one piece of technology you would like to try this year, and why. 

I already blogged about this the other day!  Here is the link: Technology 2015-2016

Day 3

Discuss one "observation" area you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation. 

As a former 4.0 student, I want to improve everything about my evaluation that is not perfect! LOL.  This year I am going to focus on Domain 4 specifically since that is what brought my overall score down the most.  The nice thing is that my admin is already bringing in PD for the first week of school on this and our union is also providing us with PD and a complete binder to help us keep are records organized!