10.20.2013

Fall Finally?

Nah, it's not fall here.  Or at least not like fall in other parts of the country.  It was still almost 90* today!  But it's sunny, so I can't complain!  A couple weeks ago we had some rain one day and some cooler temps for a few days.  It was wonderful!  I will really enjoy it when it does get cooler and we can wear pants and not sweat to death outside!  :) 

I am going to introduce my kids to some new centers this week.  We have been doing my version of Daily 5, but I don't like it all that well.  Read to someone is my nemesis.  So I am going to fix it a little and make it work better for me.  That means I need to be more creative, but I need to be.  I have been in a rut for a bit, so this will be a good way to get me out of it.  And my kids need practice with some other things, so we will throw in some math, too.  I know it's not math time, but some of us need all the extra help we can get! 

I have made a couple little fun center games for the kids this week.  We have 3 days this week of centers/rotations.  I am out on Thursday for a meeting, and they will have plenty to do with the substitute to keep them occupied!  If you'd like to grab the centers I have made, click on the cute pictures from mycutegraphics.com to get your free copy.  All I ask is for a little comment love please!


 
I've decided that if I post anything here for use in the classroom, most of the time it will be a freebie.  I'm tired of reading blogs that are just a big ad for their TPT store and then the item I like it too expensive for my taste.  I guess that makes me cheap, and I am OK with that (so is my hubby).  It seems that teachers who are posting on TPT are making things more $$$ and are reaping the benefits, but not from me.  There are a few things I have bought that have been worth it, but if it's something I really want/need, I am going to try and make it on my own.  It's not as cute as theirs or as creative, but I get the same result.  I want to be able to help even just one person who may be frazzled or pressed for time.  If I can do that, then I'm good!  I will still be putting things on TPT, but those are few and far between. 
 
I have had a busy weekend and I am really tired, thanks to waking up before 3am for no apparent reason!  I think it's time for an early bedtime tonight and ready for a busy week!  
 

10.15.2013

I logged in tonight to post something, but then I forgot what it was!  That's how things are going lately!  There are a gazillion things to do, yet nothing seems to get done.  I did manage to get the trash out for tomorrow and I have dinner in the works!  Go me! 

We had a staff meeting today and our staff meetings are now about 15 minutes of staff meeting stuff and the rest of the time we are supposed to spend doing vertical collaboration.  Last month, the first grade team met with Kinder.  I was gone, so I don't know how it went.  There was only one teacher from our team there, so it couldn't have been super productive.  Today we had to meet with 2nd grade.  Our second grade team is very head strong and they feel that everything they do is great and wonderful.  They had very little positive to say about the kids they have this year from us, and in fact they are trying to find a way to move some kids back into 1st grade.  Sorry, we are over our limit on kids as it is!  But, it is disheartening to hear them talk about the kids the way they do.  For the last 6 years, the kids, as a whole, have never met the lofty expectations the teachers have for them.  If they are at grade level, they should have been higher.  If they are below grade level, they should have been retained.  I'm sorry, but retention isn't the answer for all kids and sometimes, maybe even a lot of times, it doesn't work.  It's just frustrating to listen to them complain about all the kids, especially the ones who are the really good kids who work hard and are capable of learning as long as they are taught! 

And this is the conclusion that I have come to.  While I am not the best teacher, I try to be the best I can be.  I have changed things up over the last couple years and have learned some new things to help me help my kids.  I try not to be the paper pusher, and I'm getting better about that.  I do my reading groups, though they are not as effective as I'd like, but I do my groups and try to do them 4 days a week.  I try to pull kids out when they need extra help, but I haven't been able to find the time this year.  I try to make learning fun and bring out the manipulatives and try not to bore them to death with some of the things we do.  But then I see what others do (or don't do) and I wonder why I work so hard.  I try not to kill a forest a week with worksheets, but for some, they think that is the key to learning.  A 20 page homework packet doesn't make the kid smarter, but you wouldn't know that by the praise the other teachers get for doing such a good job getting the kids to grade level or "proficient" based on some test that is now out.  We were talking today and I thought maybe we were just jealous that the others get the praise, but it's not that.  I am more upset that they get praise for not going above and beyond, while we are doing a million things to try and get the kids to learn. 

But then I have to ask myself - would I be happy if I did my job half-assed?  Nope!  I have to give 100% everyday and do what I can to help my kids learn.  Once they leave me, they are no longer my responsibility.  I can care for them, and talk to them and hope the best for them, but they are not on my roster and are no longer under my direct instruction.  I can hope others see what I see, but if they don't, I can only do what I need to do to make sure my kids are learning in my class and that I am giving them the best I can.  It's a good reminder as we get towards the end of the trimester and are beginning to get stressed with the amount of work/testing/teaching we have to do before report cards and we are satisfied with the progress some of the kids are making.  I need to make sure I go in everyday and try just a bit harder to do a little better than I did the day before.  I too get complacent and want to do things the easier way.  Sometimes easy is good, but other times, it pays to do things a little bit harder and then reap the rewards later! 

With all this in mind, I need to go and get ready for tomorrow.  The dishes are waiting for me, the clothes are piled high on the couch waiting to be folded and my daughter is in the middle of a Junie B book!  Here's to a great end to the week!   

10.13.2013

Is this thing on?

It's been a while since I have posted.  And that's been on purpose!  I just haven't been in the mood.  Life gets in the way and things that are more important than blogging take priority.  There have been many times in the day I think "This would be great to blog about!"  But then I get home, and there isn't time or desire!  But I'm trying to be back!  At least more than I have been. 

We've been busy at school working on everything under the sun it feels like.  As a whole, we are all moving along, however slow it may be.  My group is a group that needs to go a little slower in their learning, so I am learning with them this year to go a bit slower.  We are taking the scenic route in learning, so hopefully things will stick and they will remember and be successful in their learning!  We seem to be doing better in math than reading, but boy do I have a group of readers who have really taken off in the last 3 weeks.  Some are zooming right along!  Makes me happy to see them doing so well and getting it!  I really only have a couple who aren't making progress, but they are the ones who keep me up at night. 

In our grade level, we have "that group" of kids this year.  They are the ones that will be talked about for years to come.  They are a difficult group overall.  They are on the lower end of learning, which has been a shock.  A lot of them struggle with behavior (or at least how we'd like them to behave) which impacts the others in the class who do know how to behave.  I have 6 kids who are ALWAYS good.  6 out of 26 isn't very many.  It's been hard.  But it's getting better.  We have a lot of parents who don't work with their kids and tell us it's our job to teach them.  I do what I can, but that's where we need the parent help.  We do what we can in the 5 hours they are with us. 

I have sat down at the computer many times to create something fun for my kids, but nothing has come out yet.  It's been an interesting year.  We are working with common core, but I don't feel like I know the standards well enough yet to know if my kids are getting it.  Has anyone else felt the same way?  What have you done to change that feeling?  We don't have report cards ready yet for the new standards, so we truly don't know what they are being "graded" on.  I hear rumors of rubrics and checklists, but in our grade level, we have nothing yet.  I have a meeting next week where we are supposed to plan all that, but that doesn't do us any good for now.  We don't know to what extent our kids are expected to know the standards and how they are being assessed or graded on them.  So we are doing what we can and hoping for the best.  This year seems to be a lot of hope for now! 

And as we are spending the year hoping we do the best, it's time for me to plan those awesome lessons I will do this week!  I hope you all have a great week!