Thursday, March 14, 2019

My Teaching "To-Do" List

Wow, some days it is really hard not to get caught up in my never-ending teacher to-do list. As soon as I get close to the end, new things have been added. It can be hard to keep a positive outlook.

That's why this post by Dave Stuart Jr. really hit home to me. It's called "The Shift," and in it, he talks about how when he gets caught up in the never-ending to-do list, he writes himself a new list with just one item on it: Promote the long-term flourishing on young people.

Obviously, that's a huge job itself, but just simplifying everything I'm doing down into a simple sentence that reminds me of WHY I am doing it really helps me keep perspective and my sanity.

Thanks, Dave! I needed that today! (And I'll probably need it tomorrow, too!)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Teaching is a Journey

It's been a few years since I added to this blog. The last post talks about how I was moving from my online classroom back to a brick-and-mortar classroom.

In August of 2014, I was hired to teach 6th and 7th grade language arts at my local intermediate school. I have been there ever since. It has been amazing and rewarding! Whew! I sure have been working hard to get my head wrapped around the new common core, learning targets, common formative assessments, grading batches of over 100 essays at a time, and so on. Now I feel that I am ready to share some of the things I have learned, as well as hopefully getting some feedback from all of you master teachers as well!

My teaching experience has spanned many grades and subjects. My first year of teaching, I taught a 4th/5th grades split. That was a circus, but so much fun. I spent the next four years teaching second grade. That is where I really felt that I learned how to teach reading. After that, I subbed for a few years--anywhere from kindergarten to seniors in high school in any subject. Then I went into the virtual world. Over the next few years there, I was able to teach 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade writing, 6th grade science, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade language arts, and 7th grade pre-algebra. While teaching online, I also had the chance to be a learning coach for the other teachers in the school and a data specialist.

All of the different ages and subjects that I have taught definitely influence me in the classroom today. It's been a journey with many highs and lows, and I'd love to share the journey forward with others. I know that many of you are taking a similar journey, and I know we can grow from each other's experiences.

I'd love to hear something positive that happened in your classroom this week!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School!

It's back to school time! For me this is as literal as it gets. I've moved on from my online classroom and back to a traditional classroom. This means I have A LOT to do to get my new classroom ready.

A month ago, I walked into a bare classroom and wondered what I should do to fill it and make it mine. I thought about themes I've had in the past and those just didn't feel right. So of course I got on Pinterest and started cruising around online. I was inspired more by classrooms that had a color scheme than those that had a different type of theme.

So I chose my colors: orange, blue, and green. I love this color pallet because it is happy and bright. I found some fun, cute patterned paper and got to work! I started by creating circles because I knew I needed polka dots around the room. Then I got ambitious and used my circles to make paper garland to hang in the windows in my classroom. I'm super happy with the way that both turned out.

My classroom isn't all the way completed, but it's definitely better than how it started. I'll continue adding to my decor, but the basics of my classroom are done and can be found at Teachers Pay Teachers.

More products and pictures to come!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Four Critical Questions for PLCs

Professional Learning Communities have been sweeping our educational system. We've really narrowed the focus of how to best use our teams to look at data and increase student achievement. There are four critical questions that PLCs use to help drive discussion and action. I like to have these questions posted so that I can keep my focus on them. Also, it's nice to have a recording form that matches the questions.

This product is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for only $1 (CLICK HERE) and includes: 
  • A poster of the Four Critical Questions for PLCs
  • A 2nd poster with an alternate heading
  • A pdf recording sheet to record answers to the four questions and to categorize students
  • A word document recording sheet that is the same as the pdf recording sheet but you can edit and/or type on it

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

P.O.W.E.R. Writing Process Posters

Writing well is a PROCESS! It is so important that students understand that great writing doesn’t happen in one step. In my class, to help students remember the steps of the writing process, I use the acronym POWER . Each letter stands for one of the steps of the writing process: Pre-Write, Organize, Write, Edit, and Revise. I really stress to my students that writing well gives people POWER, and their writing will be stronger if they take it through the whole writing process.

This product is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for only $3 (CLICK HERE) and includes: 
  • Two basic POWER posters that outline the steps of the writing process. One of the posters includes a basic version of how the Six Traits of Good Writing apply to the writing process and the other does not.
  • One POWER poster that details the parts of each of the steps in the writing process.
  • Two options of 5-Poster sets that have one poster for each of the steps in the writing process.
  • Two options of a parent newsletter that explains the POWER writing process to parents. One of the newsletters includes details about the Six Traits of Good Writing and the other does not.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip - Jing!

I am on online teacher. This means that I am at my computer ALL day! I am constantly trying to find short-cuts that make my life and job easier. The tool that I use the most often is a screenshot tool called Jing. It's crazy easy to use, sits on the corner of my desktop silently until I want to grab it quick, and keeps a library of every image or video I've ever taken with it so I never lose anything!

With Jing, it so easy to grab a quick screenshot and then highlight, put an arrow, or type on the screenshot and then paste my new creation wherever I want it. I can even save it as an image file. I use this all the time to make reference guides for my students.

But that isn't all! Jing can also make videos of what I'm doing on my screen. I can choose to have it pick up audio or not. I use this feature to help teach parents, student, and colleagues how to use a program or to give an overview of a course, or whatever I want! It is just so easy. I don't even have to set anything up or edit. And then it gives me the choice to save the video as a file or as a link that will let people open and view my video without any specific software. Click here for a very short, no audio video I recorded of a Jing overview.

I use Jing so often that the word has become a verb in my common vocabulary. I often say things like, "I'll Jing it and send it to you." This tool has simplified my life. I love it and hope you can find good use out of it too!