Reflections from an elementary school teacher on the joys and challenges of the job.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
The Other Side
The principalship class is part of my endorsement in supervision and administration. The other three classes are simply because they interest me. I'll be blogging more on these classes in the future. And on how it feels to be on the other side of the classroom.
My reason for mentioning them is that I've been thinking about how teachers spend their summers. Many people think teachers have it made because we get our summers off. And technically, they're right. However, the teachers I know spend that time doing a ton of professional learning - and they don't get paid a thing. They take classes, attend workshops, read professional books,plan, and more. Teachers, as a general rule, want to do the best job they can for their students. In order to do this, they work long hours during the school year and spend their free time continuing their own learning. I'm not sure what this means or why it feels so important to me. But, it does feel important.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Thanks for Technology Thoughts
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I took pictures of all of their comments for a couple of reasons. They had a lot of good ideas and strategies that I want to remember to share with future groups. But mostly, their answers are so them. Looking at the pictures will immediately conjure up these students. Even for those comments that aren't signed, the authorship is obvious to me. Their personalities are so clear through these thoughts.
I can't stand the testing and I hate the complex procedures we go through to be sure the tests are secure and fair. I'm far from convinced that these tests are a valid assessment of my students' learning (and I say this as a GT teacher whose students will likely all pass all tests). No one-time, multiple choice test is going to even come close to fully showing a student's abilities, knowledge, and talents.
As a side note, these brown papers were used in another classroom before hanging on my walls and then used to create backgrounds for our wax museum project. We recycle every chance we get!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Challenges of Working with Technology
And yet...certain things are driving me insane. Many of my kids are creating PowerPoints. A couple of them are fantastic. Most are not. They are so focused on making the slides look cool, transition in interesting ways, and have fun graphics that the content is getting no focus. A lot of kids are creating websites. Again, a couple are really well done. Most are so focused on having fun with the technology (and posting on each other's guestbooks) that their content stinks.
Should I give them opportunities earlier in the year and throughout the year to work with these technologies in the hope of getting this out of their systems? Should I require a storyboard of their PowerPoint or website before I allow them on a computer so that I can get the focus on the content before they can play? Any other thoughts?
I really want to do this project again next year - and others like it. But I clearly need a better plan.
Friday, June 01, 2007
So, here's how it has worked. We identify a focus for the unit. We find a text with examples of words that fit our focus (words with apostrophes, prefixes, etc.). The class does a shared reading of the text and we look closely at those words. Then the students search in their reading for words that fit the unit. For a couple of days we collect a huge list of the words on a chart and in their word study notebooks.
The next step is to sort the words. Sometimes we tell the students how to sort them and sometimes we allow for an open sort. Eventually the goal is to have the words sorted in a way that will help us learn to spell them. Students then sort the words in their word study notebooks.
From that point we work on creating generalizations about the unit. Ideally students can create these independently but we help guide as needed. The generalizations then get typed up and glued into their word study notebooks.
The other piece of word study is buddy study. Students choose a word list (words from the unit of study, high frequency words, and words from their word to learn list) of about 8-10 words. Using that list they build, mix, fix with the magnetic letters, then look, say, cover, write, check. We do a buddy check (like a spelling test, but mostly as practice) then making connections followed by the actual buddy test.
Goals for next year:
- Move through units more quickly once the routine is established.
- Possibly do two units of study before doing the buddy study piece.
- Have more of the unit and buddy study as homework once the routine is established.