Thursday, June 22, 2017

The next phase in my career....

As teachers we are self-proclaimed life-long learners... or at least that is what I self-proclaim.  We are constantly encouraging and guiding our students to learn and become well-rounded beings of the world but, are we adhering that to own purpose in life?  So, with the recommendation of one of my District teaching mentors, and sitting through the Professional Development workshops on the topic I have decided to "walk the walk" and begin the journey of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher.  The area/content I have settled on is Middle Childhood Generalist.  I have my BA in Elementary Education, my Master's in Elementary Education so it was either pursue another Master's Degree with a focus on Reading Specialist, which I am finding is a position that many districts are expendable  go forward for my Doctorate, and I really have nothing I want to write a thesis on at this time, or seek National Board Certification ... which I finally settled on.  I am taking this journey with 3 other colleagues in my district, one who happens to be a close friend so I have the educational support, now it's just deciding where to start.

If you haven't looked into it, do and don't get intimidated.  After a lot of dissection, discussion, and combing through the dialogue and expectations it is going to be quite a bit of work but, doable - definitely doable.  There are 4 different elements to complete before you get the privilege of adding the title behind your name.  The 1st element is a test with 3 constructed response questions and a series of selected response questions.  The 2nd element is where you focus on your work with one or more students and how your instructions, strategies, and differentiation helped them improve and become more successful in the Writing/Literacy area for a specific period of time, for my specific area it is 3-4 weeks of instruction.  The 3rd element is teaching practices in which you are videoed giving instruction at 2 different times and detailing the why, how, and what next to show planning and interaction/climate of your learning environment.  Finally, the 4th element is a reflection of your teaching practices through the classroom, the school, and community; especially in a more leadership role.

  This is going to be a GREAT undertaking but it is something I am really motivated to take part in.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Books! Books!! and more Books!!!

Well now that I have the opportunity to return to my favorite curriculum... if you haven't picked up on it yet it's 6th grade, it is time to refresh some of my teaching resources.  I get so many of my resource books from this wonderful business here in Arizona called Treasures 4 Teachers.  It's a non-profit organization which collects donations from businesses which can be recycled and repurposed by teachers for classroom use.  There is a section of resource books as you enter the facility and you can put as many as you can desire or select in a bag which you fill and it only costs $5 upon checkout.  Way in the back of the store is a section which is filled with items for free these include 3 ring binders in a variety of sizes, empty shoe, and tissue boxes, magazines, and other items.  This is a wonderful place for teachers here in Arizona to get their classroom set up and the resources we are in need of for pennies on the dollar.  I LOVE THIS PLACE.  It does require a $35 membership fee to be paid annually but, the savings is well worth it 5 times over!!  Because of this wonderful group, I have almost 2 cabinets full of teaching resource books, and not to mention the electronic resources I purchased from TeachersPayTeachers I am inundated with options of creative ways to teach the expected content.  Even with this abundance of resources I still find myself buying more.  I hate textbooks so I do everything in my power to find resources which will be engaging but not found within the permabond covers of a textbook which here in my district are at least 15 years outdated.  Here are pictures of the new treasures I purchased through Amazon and Carson Dellosa to help revamp and rejuvenate my curriculum.

Here are some of the new books for my collection.  These will be used for my Social Studies curriculum because here in Arizona we focus on Ancient Civilizations for 6th Grade.  This content is why I love 6th grade so much.  There are so many different projects and ideas that come from this content which is rich in content, history, and culture it is really engaging for the students.

I am really excited to use Interactive Notebooking this year.  I have already asked my administration for 6 composition books for each of my 35 students because we all know they will not buy enough or the ones you are expecting no matter what you put on the back to school supply list.  So, to appease my Type A issue, I made sure they had exactly what I wanted to ensure success upon utilizing this strategy to learn the expected content.

Finally, I want to use more differentiation since students show their "What I Know" different ways.  So, in turn, I am planning on using the option of Menus for performance assessments.  I plan on using a lot of performance assessments next year.  This allows a lot of integration, cross-curricular, and problem-solving strategies to come into play.  Along with my wonderful opportunity to create a paperless classroom with Google Chromebooks next year I cannot wait to get started.  I know I am going to drive my teammates crazy with everything I want to implement.  I know I need to do it in steps and little chunks at a time but, I think by mid 2nd trimester we will be in a great rhythm and the students will show wonderful growth and retention of the expected content.

I am so excited for this next school year to get started... now if I could just get my Donor's Choose project funded I will have an amazing year to the wonderful start so far...

Monday, June 19, 2017

I'm Back!!

Well, that didn't last long!!!

I know I have been absent from my own blog but, when your heart really isn't in the content you are teaching it's kinda hard to write on it.  I love teaching and that is what kept driving me this past year.   I don't know what it is about the 4th grade age group but, wow their mouths don't stop.  In the past, with my 6th graders, yeah they talked, a lot of time when it wasn't warranted but, seriously I these 9-10-year old mouths/jaws should be exhausted because they were non-stop last year!  I liked my team and there were some highs last year but getting used to a whole different age group, curriculum, school, and administration did not leave a lot of time or drive to keep up on my posting.... and for that, I apologize  - to those who actually read my ramblings on...

Now I am excited and rejuvenated for the next school year.  This will be the first year I will be teaching in a contained 6th grade class since my 1st three years of teaching 6th grade was semi-departmentalized in which I focused on ELA & Social Studies.  Now, I will be covering all subjects so I say ... Bring it On!!  My Pinterest boards have been getting refreshed with new content and removal of some old (4th grade Social Studies especially).  I will keep quite a bit of what I did with my 4th graders this past year as a resource for interventions and scaffolding for content which some of my lower students may not have mastered as expected before entering  6th grade.  Planning has begun and it has created quite an excitement for me.   I LOVE 6th GRADE... the content and the kiddos.  I know there is the chance of great drama and anguish but, I deal with it really well and the kids seem to really get me at that age.

I already have my 1st activity of the 1st week of school planned ... I am going to do an Escape Room activity to help create teamwork, collaboration, and community with my new group of students.   I actually completed the activity with my summer school colleagues and  I LOVED IT!!  the thought process, critical thinking, and  challenge  presented  to get through the tasks to "Escape" was fun and gave a great sense of  accomplishment when you were able to solve a series of problems which in turn allowed you to earn your freedom.  Along with this activity will be a series of community building activities which will segway into starting the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  I fell in love with this book last year and want to have my 6th graders read it and implement many of the teachings and lessons which are integrated with the book towards our classroom environment.  This will also allow us to have a field trip in November when the movie is released in theaters to see it on the big screen then compare/contrast between the book and the movie.   Anytime I can use a movie to enhance a lesson I am all over it!!  Mary Poppins for setting being a background character, a montage of Disney movies to help hone in theme, comparing/contrast the literature to the movie... all that fun to help solidify the expected content is one of the many tools in my arsenal to help my students achieve success for the year.

See, I jump from one area to another because I am that excited to get the 2016-2017 school year started and back to my wonderful and delightful 6th grade.  I cannot wait and I will try to make this a better habit ...  I need to reflect and grow and this platform will give me just the avenue to do this.

On another note, I have decided, along with 2 other colleagues to pursue our National Board Certification.  Please pray for me as I begin this journey...  hopefully I will still retain my sanity and some hair when it is all done.

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....