“Final” Blog Post for Winter Quarter

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My blogging has come a long way. I am beginning to be more open sharing my experiences in the classroom and making connections of how I can grow into a better teacher by reflecting on student work. I think the best example of how I have grown as a reflective teacher is, Finding the Good.  It has become so much more clear that by making my teaching practice public it will only lead to me improving as an educator, especially in the vulnerable moments when you feel a little lost.

I have been able to see how I can contribute to conversations with other teachers without meeting face to face. There is great power in this, but at the same time I have had a lot of technical road blocks pop up. I have had a difficult time gaining access to comment on blogs outside from our cohort. I’m not sure why, it just says I don’t own my wordpress I.D. The few that I was successful at commenting on were lost in a stream of ongoing blogging. I see the value in blogging, and I guess it will just take even more time to figure how to surpass these technical road blocks. I really enjoy being able to read about experiences in other classrooms, and especially those that discuss how they are integrating new ideas and technology in their classroom. My favorite blog I read recently was about students using Twitter in the classroom. It is so interesting to see how we can use tools like Twitter and blogging as a way to professionally network in the education community and also how that can translate when put into the hand of our students. I was able to contribute to someone else’s learning by posing questions that would challenge their thinking and prompt a deeper reflection by sharing similar situations that have happened to me, or offer insight from a different perspective. . An example of this would be a comment I made about positive discipline. I look at technology in the classroom in a whole new light, and can’t wait to find ways of integrating the many ideas I have come across into my future classroom!

Seeing the beauty

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imagesThis week didn’t start off so well for me as I had some personal issues I was dealing with that got me pretty down. I received an email from my CT explaining how the Benchmark math tests went. My spirits were suddenly lifted me when she told me how well a few students who had been struggling did! She wanted me to think about the impact I have made on these students this year. I have been so worried about not being able to teach effectively, and this just showed that I am right on track and my CT really wanted me to see and feel the satisfaction of students improving and reaching standard. Even more amazing, a student, who I will refer to as Miss B., shocked me with her mathematical thinking! I have been working with her one on one most days during math lessons and have seen slow, progress, but there is progress, so when she was able to solve 4 out of 6 word problems I was completely surprised and so proud of her. She puts in work before school working on math and reading skills because right now she is, in most areas, at a kindergarten level. I am feeling so very hopeful for her future in academics and I couldn’t be prouder of my kiddos for doing such a fantastic job on the math benchmark test. This week I have been able to appreciate the beauty of teaching and learning and I couldn’t feel more confident and excited about my choice to join the education profession.

Behaviors Behaviors Behaviors

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As much as I would have loved to have no big behavioral issues in my classroom during my time as I student teach, I think it is a good thing that I am seeing such things. I have some pretty severe and violent/inappropriate talk happening in my classroom, and quite frankly I would have NO idea where to even start on the disciplinary action of these behaviors. I am lucky enough to have a cooperating teacher, who was a licensed therapist, talk through such difficult behaviors and try to find the root of the issue. She knows when to approach administration with behavioral issues and when it is something she can handle on her own. By seeing these issues play out now, I feel that I will be prepared for anything, (well, almost anything) that comes my way next year. I think that my behavior management while teaching is becoming a lot better. I am finding ways to cue students to pay attention that are my own. My cooperating teacher even complimented me on my presence, and how I don’t allow behaviors to halt an entire lesson. Slowly but surely I am becoming more confident in my teaching and I am really excited to see how the rest of the school year plays out as I transition into teaching full time.

Classroom Ideas

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downloadI wanted to to blog about the clock that my group talked about during our unit and lesson planning of a math unit in our last math class. I have been thinking lately about so many things that my cooperating teacher does in her classroom that I want to incorporate into my classroom, but I so often forget to make mental bookmarks of the ideas that are constructed in our course work. To me, this clock was such a strong visual representation for students to know what they will be learning that day, and also what they have already learned.

I want to have a unit clock for every math unit I cover in my class. I believe that visual representations about what student learning is happening in our classroom is great for students to be able to communicate what it is that we are learning. Depending on the visual they may even be able to communicate why it is important for us to learn it.

 

So many wonderful ideas circulate our classrooms during our coursework. I want to have a session of just talking through classroom ideas so I can keep all of these wonderful thoughts and incorporate such great ideas into my future classroom.

The Writing on the Wall

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writingI am so proud of my first graders for completing their first published writing piece of the school year! I have seen so many improvements among these young writers. They have been setting writing goals, working on their writing with partners, using revising skills we have learned in class and their small moment stories are so interesting and well written. I have especially seen growth in several of the E.L.L. students in our class. They are beginning to take risks with their spelling of larger vocabulary words and using their word walls to help them with sentence structure and with sight word spelling.

We are now moving into writing How To’s and I am feeling significantly more confident in the format of the writing conferences I have been having with students. I am using conferring sheets now to keep track of my teaching points and goals. I feel it is really hard to have BRIEF (5-7) minute sessions with students because we get on a roll and  I just want to continue on and on. Carl Anderson’s essay Assessing Writers helped me understand what the writing conference should look like and more importantly sound like. I realized my conferences were not enough student led. I look forward to seeing the topics these creative first graders have chosen to write about for their How To’s.

Jumping In

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For the longest time, all the different ideas we were learning seemed very jumbled. I was having a hard time seeing the “big picture.” As I start to teach more and more in my placement I have been able to piece all that I am learning together better. This week I am taking over Readers Workshop and I am incredibly nervous and also excited to dive in and teach. I will be teaching about main characters to my first graders, which will be a lot of fun. The first graders in my classroom are very bright and excited about new books and stories. We have been front loading content from their field trip when they saw three plays by Eric Carle. They made story maps and we have been discussing characters, plot, setting and problems and solutions in stories. We did this so by the time we are beginning to talk about character, they already know how to analyze character traits, they just don’t know yet that they know how. I will be blogging more about how these lessons go as the week progresses. Wish me luck!

Brown Bear Brown Bear: Making Field Trips Count!

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My class went to go see the Eric Carlson plays in Bellevue, sadly I wasn’t able to go, but they had a wonderful experience seeing books they have read in class come to life on stage. My CT emphasized how important it is to pick and choose your field trips ( we get 2 per year) to benefit the students and help front load the curriculum ahead. We are using these plays and books to have students discover plot, setting, problems and solutions. We were abldownloade to integrate the arts into  these lessons because they created the characters for the story maps. (There are two more story maps not hung in the hall yet). The biggest front loader of information from these plays in how they prompt us to discuss characters. In the units of study Character starts in a couple weeks and continues throughout the Spring. I am taking on teaching the lessons for character and am very excited to continue such great classroom discussions about the books we read in class together. The students were so proud of their story maps being displayed in the hallways for all of the school to see!