Sunday, January 25, 2015

Technology for Lower El in 30 Minutes

I've been gone from the teaching blogosphere for a while now.  I'm being challenged more than ever before and working harder than ever.... as a result, my own writing has taken a backseat.  Besides my work in the classroom, I serve on several committees and am a district trainer/host for literacy and technology.

I just finished a technology PD last week that is already changing the way I am teaching my students.  I though I should share since I've been neglecting doing what I love... sharing with my fellow teachers!  This PowerPoint is focused on what your students (and you) can do with technology in 30 minute blocks of time.  Lower el is often crunched for time (or has limited access to the technology because upper el needs it more often!).  I hope you enjoy as much as the teachers in my district did.  Please let me know it you have any questions!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lesson Planning: Computer vs. Paper

My lesson planning has evolved over the last seven years...

When I started teaching kindergarten, I was a long-term sub job that lasted over 1/2 the year.  She did her plans in a plan book, so I just used her system.  I was always confused and found that I was in over my head (I had 31 kinders and an aide for 2 hours of the day in a full-day program).  This was before readers and writers workshop, and anything that wasn't play-based.  I mostly organized the day's materials.  Sad, but I learned as I went along.
When I was hired for a kindergarten position, I made it my mission to learn EVERY benchmark and expectation for my littles.  I integrated the standards into my lesson plans, which were incredibly detailed.  This was the most amazing learning experience.  That practice got me on the report card committee as a first year teacher (again- a great learning time for me).  I still wrote them in a plan book, but transferred them to digital after.  I did some long range planning in the book.  I  used a table format in Word.  This allowed me to keep many of the things that we did each day, at the same time, the same.  I was also able to cut and paste the benchmarks.  I would highlight them on the original state document in order to make sure that all were met.  It looked like this:

By my second year, I stopped using the paper planner.  My principal appreciated reading the standards, but after my first few years.... we both stopped :)

When I switched to first grade, I pulled out the standards again for the first few months..... then stopped because there were so many in one week that it was more than 1/2 of my plans.  I was also the only one who did this.  It was time that I trusted myself and my attention to the goals for my class.  Keep in mind that I was using Lucy Calkins for writing and had a set plan for reading from our ISD, along with a new math program- no need to write it out in detail.  My plans changed to this last year:

This year, I'm entering in to a new chapter.... the Erin Condren Teacher Planner! I've been using the life planner for a few years and L.O.V.E. it!  I like to write things down and make lists - even if I'm about to cross it off!  So much of my lesson planning is done for me.  I write directly on the teachers editions when I make changes and/or add in extras.  My writing is all over everything.... I feel bad for the teacher who will someday take my place!
Here is my Condren Planner for next year:

I need to get on that daily planning!  School starts September 2nd!
LOVE the plastic insert pages for the necessities of planning.  The pouch is perfect for tiny notes and receipts!
I'm coming full circle.  With confidence and knowledge comes the ability to simplify and focus on what matters most at work- actually TEACHING.

Seriously fabulous, right?  As a thank you, they even send it with a $10 off coupon- which I used to buy my Life Planner for this year.  If you are interested in Erin Condren designs, check it out HERE

*This post was not sponsored in ANY way.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I'm Reading Wednesday- How's It Going?

It's been one of those summers.... filled with house projects and family.  Although I took a break from my teaching blog, I was still reading and thinking about writing.  I was stretching myself as a writer by starting another blog- just about my other hobby (trashy treasures!).  I needed to be living a "writer-ly life" in order to better connect with my students in the fall.

I try to read one professional book every few months, depending on my interests and needs.  For this series.... they are stacked :)  This is the book I brought home this summer:

Link to Amazon 
 My copy of this book was missing for about 2 months.  I even sent out "wanted posters" to the staff and verified my Amazon purchase.  The last week of school, my mentor teacher handed it to me (sheepishly).  She didn't even remember borrowing it.  I knew I wasn't crazy!

I know when I'm reading a great professional book when I write all over it and use multiple colors of highlighters and pens.  That means that I went back a few times to read a portion.  The permanent post-it.... I'm making something out of those notes to share with my teaching partners!

Here are some of my big take-aways....
  • We teach the WRITER, not the specific writing. We should be teaching students the things that they will carry through in other pieces, not just fix this one.
  • We should be able to specifically name what we taught the writer (and share the language of writers with the students).
  • There is a structure to an effective conference.
    • conversation about what the child is currently doing as a writer (research & decide what to teach)
    • conversation about how the child can become a better writer (teaching, and trying it out)
  • Sometimes, there are predetermined goals, but it needs to focus on the students specific writing.
  • We need to teach the purpose and model how to have an effective conference with expectations.  Students need us to give them the language (they don't naturally have it).  Practice conference conversations.
  • Carry mentor appropriate mentor tests and student samples in plastic (that can be revised/ edited with dry erase).  Then the student can see how the teaching applies to more than one piece of writing.
  • Research you writer!  I'll be making a cheat sheet to carry with me, using these questions to help prompt my inquiries:
Notice the post-it.... I'll condense and make it my own!
  • Only have ONE teaching point.  We cannot expect students to use more than one tip at a time.  We only have 5-7 per student, so make sure they can do that ONE thing great.  Chose the biggest bang for their writing buck.  There is more time on another day!
  • Balance student-directed needs and teacher-decided goals.
  • Share what you "notice" about their writing and help them to clarify what they want to learn.
  • Use post-its to remind students of teaching tips from the conference, as they may not be ready to do it at that exact moment (maybe 10 minutes later).
  • Confer EVERY DAY!  If students are writing for 35 minutes, set a goal of 5-6 conferences per day.  Teachers should also take a lap around the room to monitor behavior.  just knowing that you are present will squash many behaviors :)
Happy reading!

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'm like David Hasselhoff

The joke around my house lately has been, "Mom's a big deal in Europe."  This seems to apply to everything I have an opinion about in my household.  They got it from a joke I made at school  I do have a self-deprecating, sarcastic sense of humor (which has been passed on to my children).  Although, I do work really hard and understand that I am great at my job.  It's probably not as much about skill, as it is passion.  There I go again!  I am a great teacher... students are inspired by me.... parents love me.... (insert your own mantra here).

I'm always taken aback when people comment on my blog or I notice an entry on Pintrest.  Many times, these are just rants or dumping my thoughts on to paper/screen.  My friend, Carly- who teachers kindergarten, will bring attention to it once in a while when she's blog-surfing.  It's a running joke at school.  I'm like the David Hasselhoff of teaching- undervalued daily, but big in Europe!  Here's the latest example of how Americans need to listen to me:

***Please note: I mean no disrespect to David Hasselhoff by comparing myself to him.  Like I said, he is under-appreciated in the US.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

About to Tweet that I'm on Twitter

I know it sounds weird to MANY of you, but I'm overwhelmed by the amount of technology and social media available.  I have an account for just about all of the avenues to indulge in the sound of my own voice (or at least the visual representation of it!) and spy on others.  I just never look at them ....

I have a blog so that I can work through my educational ideas without driving my husband crazy.  I read other blogs when they aren't trying to sell me something on TPT (sorry, but true- I've been guilty of the same).  I scroll through them on Bloglovin' until I see something interesting.  Lately, it's been about home improvement or DIY stuff.  

I have Instagram to spy on my two teen-age children.  Truth- my brother actually monitors it for me.

I love Facebook, but my family feels that I am guilty of over-sharing.  It's probably true.  They don't read my blog, so I share there.  It's also a spot to highlight my weird adventures and trash-treasure fun.  Some things, you just can't make up! 

I have a Twitter account because my friend Kate said I needed one for professional purposes.  I rarely look at it.  I get annoyed because I just have to follow a link to get more information most of the time.  I was only sort of wondering what the Property Brothers or Lucy Calkins are up to, not really willing to # it out.  It is summer, right?  I need more than 140 characters to express my thoughts.  I usually just re-tweet or favorite other things.  It's been a year and I'm struggling with it.

At the end of the school year, I was invited to join the "Techno Dragons" for my district.  Doesn't it sound like a creepy AV club?  Any way, the group of teachers help teach other teachers about current technology that they can use in their classroom and ways to integrate technology and learning.  My super-cool music teacher, Dakotah, is also a Techno Dragon.  With a name like Dakotah, you know he's going to be artsy, deep-thinking, and cutting edge.  He's also a new dad, so he's slowly losing his mind like the rest of us teacher-parents!  He's big on Twitter.... also pushing for me to actually use it for professional development.  Now, I feel like I HAVE to do it- just to be one of the cool kids.  I think I'm pretty cool already.  (Yes- I'm joking!)

I'm about to tweet this post.... Just so I can annoy people with having to follow a link to hear my musings......