Saturday, June 4, 2016

If it's not one thing... it's another...

Want to know what is worse than having to pack up your classroom of two years to transfer to another school, and grade in your district???  It's doing it while you are moving your home of over three years.  Yep, that is my summer folks... moving.  I don't know if I should consider it a wonderful chance to start with a new beginning; a fresh start you might say... but it does seem a bit much.

Now that my classroom has been packed and stored in my designated library at my home or in a storage locker for 2 months near my new school... my next quest... find a part time job.  Yes, I opted for the lump payment at the beginning of summer, and I will get another disbursement to pay for some PD hours I accumulated over the school year.  But, with the costs of moving and catching up on bills... I am almost tapped out.  I don't know what is worse moving or watching your bank account total get smaller and smaller.  There is some hope on the horizon, though.  I was contacted by an employment service for a 2 month data entry assignment.  I really hope I get this position, this will help sustain my bills and home for the duration of the summer until the first paycheck of the school year takes place.

Keep your fingers crossed for me... until then I will be cleaning and unpacking to get my home in order before the 2016-17 school year commences.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Let the planning begin...

So... after I have been advised of my imminent move from 6th grade to 4th grade, I decided to tighten by belt and dive in whole heartedly.  Our school district is offering a summer math academy, and since I have not taught all subjects to just one class...EVER ... I thought I would take advantage of this opportunity.  Even though school just ended - yesterday - I am already planning to take PD classes for my upcoming adventure.  Thus on Wednesday and Thursday of this upcoming week, I will be in a room will other 3rd and 4th grade teachers in my district to get a leg up on the math curriculum I will be expected to teach.  At least I will get PD hours for this and it will also go towards my 301 hours which will help supplement my pay next summer... a small savings account.

On another note, I am filling up my Pinterest boards.  Feel free to mosey on over to my Pinterest board and steal away!!  I have boards for each content area, as well as reading suggestions so I know what books to purchase to create a classroom library.  I am a big advocate of reading, because of this I will always try to have a vast classroom library available to my students.  At least it gives me an excuse to do what I love to do... buy books!!

One of the hurdles I need to wrap my head around is the limited technology available to me in my new school.  In my 6th grade classroom, I had a laptop cart available to me every day - because it was housed in my room.  All Jr. High classes had a laptop cart.  I am a very technology-based teacher, so now I have to plan ahead so I can request the laptop cart when I need it.  I had my 6th graders with an email account through tocomail, which is a teacher-moderated email service.  Also, they built their own web page which included a blog page.  So, I am not sure how much technology I can integrate into my lessons, but rest assured I will do as much as possible.

I did receive awesome news, though.  One of my classmates from my Master's cohort is moving from 1st grade to 4th grade... so we have already discussed planning together and doing some collaboration to help one another gear up for this change.  She is an amazing teacher and I cannot wait to work with her to make this the best year yet.

Stay tuned to see how the 2016-2017 school year turns out.  It seems like fate is directing me to teach 4th grade so I am going to heed this calling and enjoy this challenge and welcome the adventure!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

In the Blink of an Eye

I cannot believe it is here.  My first teaching class is promoting today.  It seems just like yesterday this rambunctious group of preteens was entering my class for the first time to begin their 6th grade year.  Now, they are receiving their promotion certificates and moving on to high school.

There was my one-star student who was quiet and a hard worker.  I persuaded her to run for Student Council President at the end of that year and won.  She is now promoting as Salutatorian of her class, as well as receiving a $500 scholarship to use in her high school's bookstore for the next school year.

Then there was another student who devoured all my books.  It seemed like every weekend I was on the search for a new book to help keep her on the path of deeper and appreciative reading.  She has a very good head on her shoulders and is a natural leader.  I convinced her to run for Student Council President last year and she won.  So, I was lucky to continue to work with her and watch her grow into an amazing and intelligent young lady.  Today she will be speaking before the audience as the Valedictorian of her class and was accepted into a prestigious College Prep academy here in Phoenix to help guide her to the boundless opportunities set before her.

Finally, the hardest one to release into the academic world.  My one student who I have become closest to these past three years.  Not only with her but with her entire family.  I know I will be in constant contact with her and her family even after she leaves the school, but not having the daily interaction will her will be a little strange.  She has worked hard her entire Jr. High experience.  Last year, her father's job took them to another state for a full quarter, so when they returned and re-enrolled at our school it was an uphill climb to catch back up to her class.  She was constantly involved in many extra-curricular activities.  She was involved in the Student Council all three years, the last two as Treasurer.  Participated on the volleyball and basketball teams. Even with all this going on she kept in mind her career goal and will finally find out tomorrow if she is accepted into her preferred high school, which is a preparatory high school for fire and police careers.  She has overcome great scholastic hurdles to the point she is exceeding or meeting all her curriculum subjects to ensure her acceptance.  I truly cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in her life because it will not be short of amazing!

These are only three stories of the 52 students who I had the privilege of teaching their 6th grade year and I am undeniably proud of each and every one of them.  I know they have their whole life before them and will make some mistakes but, they will do some phenomenal things as well.  Watch out for these kids... I know they will change the world and have an amazing impact on anyone they come in contact with from here on out.

Congratulations Jorgensen Class of 2016 ... and high school class of 2020 ... you have made me one proud teacher!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What a difference time makes....

Well, I stand corrected.  I am no longer going to be teaching 4th grade.  I am no longer going to be at the school I have loved for the past 3 years.  I have been fortunate to be retained by my current school district, but have been transferred to another school and I will be teaching ... 6th grade.  I am extremely happy that I will continue to teach the curriculum I have grown into.  The big difference taking place is my new school is not departmentalized in the 6th grade.  So, I will have to adjust my thinking and planning to working with the same group of students every day and teaching all the subjects.  I have mixed feelings on this issue.  For the past 3 years, I have either taught ELA/Social Studies or Math/Science, but never all of them in one day to only 26 students.

So, my new adventure begins.  I will dearly miss my small community school and my students I have loved and interacted with for the past 3 years.  I will have to get accustomed to new surroundings, the expectations of a new administrator, and the climate of a new group of students.  I am hoping to meet with my new principal soon so I can begin planning and gearing up for the 2016-2017 school year.  I hope with this new opportunity comes with wonderful chances to make new and even more fantastic memories.

Let's see where this leads....

Saturday, April 23, 2016

6th Grade no more!!

I am heartbroken to say that my Principal has found it necessary to change my grade from 6th to 4th.  This past year has been somewhat of a roller coaster.
To start off with I go a new co-teacher, Aunnie Kirkendoll, who was charged in the teaching of Math and Science this year, so I went back to ELA and Social Studies.  Which, to be honest, I didn't mind.  Along with the 6th grade ELA/Social Studies curriculum, I also remained as a Student Council advisor.  The students this year were of a mixed sort.  I had those who really wanted to learn and be successful, those who thought that school was a place to socialize, and then the others who thought any type of authority was a suggestion and they did not need to abide by any rules or discipline practices.
The curriculum I followed was that of EngageNY, which I found very comprehensive and really enjoyed the rigor it presented.  We started the year off reading The Lightning Thief, which allowed me to implement the Social Studies of Ancient Greece at the same time, reducing the teaching time for the unit.  Also, they were exposed to different informational texts and how they are comparable.  Based on the benchmark testing scores, they continued to grow as expected, and at times was higher than the district in a multitude of standards.
Now as the year is coming to an end... I believe this blog will as well - unless by some miracle my Principal changes her mind and allows me to stay in the 6th grade...stay tuned.

I am going to be starting a new blog shortly about my transition from 6th to 4th grade...  I will post a link to the new blog when it is created.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November already??!!!???

Wow!!  Time has surely flown by.  We are practically half-way through the 2nd quarter & it seems like we only yesterday I was on Fall Break.

Well a new event that has come around...I am now coaching the Girls Basketball team.  After a week of tryouts I have selected my 15 girls who will represent our school on the court.  Recalling what I witnessed from the team last year, I believe we are already surpassing ability and skills since practicing this past week.  Our first game is on November 18th, I have quite a bit of work to make sure my girls are ready and able to prove their ability on the court.  I cannot wait to see the results of our daily hard work.

The end of October brought our school's first evening dance.  Being the Student Council advisor & remembering what it was like to be in Junior High I thought it was my duty to change the dance times from 3:30 - 4:30 (right after school) to the evenings.  This also allowed the students to go home and change clothes & look cute rather than trying to have fun staying in their uniforms.  Due to the great success of that dance, we are planning a Winter Formal.  The dress code will be Sunday/Church attire (no t-shirts or jeans) and we will have a Queen/King & Prince/Princess.  I think this will encourage and hype up the fun had by participating in school activities.

We are doing something special in honor of Veteran's Day.  Through brainstorming our Student
Council thought it would be a great idea to have the students here at our school for our Veterans.  We are requesting teachers to take time in their lessons to create/make Thank You cards for the Veterans.  Then on Nov. 11th I will deliver a package of cards to the Veterans who are being serviced at our Veteran's Hospital.  I know our VA Hospital has been a focus of wrong doing by administration, but we want to bring a little joy and brightness to those who fought hard for our freedom.  Our goal is to make this an annual event.

So, has anyone else out there had the battle of showing kids how to divide fractions by fractions using modeling?  I too didn't understand the concept, but with perseverance, I was able to understand the process and how it helps prove how the multiplicative inverse works.  But, OMGoodness!  the kiddos still cannot seem to get a grasp on the process.  I really want to guide them to understanding what they are expected to understand, but I cannot spend 2 months on the topic.  Because of this we are moving onward to Expressions & Exponents by way of the Properties of Multiplication because we will be learning about Inequalities after that.

Well here is where I leave off again...hopefully you all have a wonderful 2nd quarter...BTW only 48 days until Winter Break!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The 2nd Quarter Begins

Well here it is, the first day of the 2nd quarter.  Parent/Teacher conferences are finished, student grades are finalized and report cards handed out.  I cannot believe how fast this first 8 weeks of school went by.  To finish off the quarter my students were kept pretty busy with projects.

In Math I gave them a real life project which involved integers, as well as use of division and decimals.  Basically a culmination of everything they had learned this past quarter.  Their assignment you ask?  They, with an assigned partner, had to budget a cross country trip, starting on the West Coast then going to the East Coast & back.  They had to plan for a family of 5,6, or 7 people.  Included in their cost for the trip was renting a vehicle to fit their required travellers, figuring out the mileage, how much mileage was available for each full tank of gas, the cost to fill the gas tank, hotel stays, entertainment/attraction fees for the travellers, food costs, and planning a route.  They had to visit three different attractions in 3 different regions of the United States (like the cross-curricular involvement with Social Studies?), plan the route, and include the cost for souvenirs.  They were given $1000 for each traveller in their party to use for their overall totals.  It was really interesting to see the things they came up with to complete the assignment, and it gave them a real life scenario of what their parents have to do before hitting the road for any family trip/vacation.

Then in Science I gave them two projects to accomplish.  First is they had to create a 3D Plant and/or Animal Cell.  I gave them a copy of the following pictures to use as a reference.

They colored and labeled one picture to put in their interactive notebook.  Then to accompany the diagram they were assigned to create their 3D masterpieces.  Here a few examples of what some of the students turned in.  I will post more as I get the pictures taken.

Along with the 3D models I had the students research different Scientists who have had an impact on our lives.  I found a list of 340+ scientists, then had the students select one scientist and do some research on these great minds.  Then once they had gathered the information they were to create a "Wanted" poster about these intellectuals.  They put how their Scientist influenced the way we live and put it in a creative outlet.  So, in the upcoming week I am going to select the best of the best to present their Scientist information to our 1st grade classes.  So, not only did they learn about different great minds, they get the opportunity to introduce even younger kiddos about these outstanding people and share what they know.  I know they will do an amazing job.

After the 1st quarter had commenced, we were given our Fall Break.  This week off I was able to attend my 20th Year Class Reunion, and make even more memories than I had in high school.  Our school football team unfortunately lost their game.  The next evening was dinner & drinks.  Lets just say that by the end of the night there was a Bar Crawl involved.  I am so happy I have a great husband who will let me cut loose & keep a close safe eye on me to ensure I don't get hurt or do anything I would regret through photo evidence in the future.

Well onward and upward.  There are a couple of great celebrations which came from this past 1st quarter.  I had one student who went from Fall Far Below (we use the FAME grading scale) to a Meets ...which is essentially like going from a D to a B.  She had never in all the time she has been going to our school seen a grade of a Meets in Math for benchmark testing.  I was so stoked to share the information & celebrate with her & her mother about her great accomplishment.  The second is after benchmark testing it turns out 1/5th of the 6th Grade is in the Exceeds range and an additional 2/5ths Meeting.  So in total 3/5ths of the 6th Grade are working at a B or higher range in the content expected to learn for the 1st quarter.  I believe it has been quite a long time this has happened at our school for the 6th Grade class.  I don't mean to toot my own horn but, TOOT TOOT!!!  I hope this continues for the next quarter and the culmination of the 2014-2015 school year.