Friday, June 12, 2015

Five for Friday: June 12th

I'm linking up with Kacey with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share some randomness from my week for Five for Friday!
We have been out of school now for a full week and I'm so excited to have time to blog again! I have a huge list of books/apps/ideas I want to blog about. There is just never enough time during the school year. 
I started our week off by organizing my math supplies. Do I know how to party, or what?! Here is a sneak peek that I posted on Instagram. I'm working on another blog post with more details about how I organized everything. I finished math yesterday and started on my station supplies. I will be working on science and ELA materials next week. Mission: Organization
I am following along with several summer book studies, including "Teaching with Intention" hosted by Mr. Greg at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard  I have blogged about Chapters 1 and 2. Check back next week for Chapter 3. Of course I had a Bahama Bucks Cherry Coke Sno Cone while reading!

I host a summer book club for young readers at our local public library every Monday, all summer long. The kids love it and I love seeing them excited about reading! I started it last summer and at first is was very low key, just by word of mouth to friends. It grew to so many families that I gave it an official name (Wildcat Summer Reading Club), started a Facebook group page, and reserved the library activity room for our meetings. We had a great turnout for our first Monday and the group keeps growing. I'm working on a blog post all about it. It is a great way to promote literacy and keep them reading all summer! Here is my cutie with her books she picked out. I love seeing her choices each week.
My girls had volleyball and basketball camp this week! LOVE this darling t-shirt design!! My son has basketball camp next week, but I doubt their t-shirt will be as cute. ;-)
I drove the kiddos to Space Center Houston. Y'all should know, I HATE to drive! Seriously, if it is more than 15 minutes in any direction, I probably won't go. Even before my car accident last summer, I was not a fan. I have driven road trips from VA to CA and all over, but I don't like it. It isn't me, it is all the CRAZY Houston drivers that scare the bejeezus out of me. If you ever drive in Houston, you will totally understand. I have been wanting to take my kiddos for the past few years, but every time I thought about that 1 1/2 hour drive, all freeway, with construction, through Downtown Houston, I chickened out. I might have given the wheel a death grip and the kids heard tons of one or two expletives, but I am sooo stinkin' proud of myself today! We all had a GREAT time! My oldest even got to go on stage during the Living in Space demonstration. 
I had a good balance of being productive and making memorable family time this week! I hope it can continue like this, because it was a wonderful week!

Thanks for stopping by to get the scoop!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Teaching with Intention Book Study: Chapter 2

Thanks for stopping by to read my thoughts on Chapter 2 of "Teaching with Intention" by Debbie Miller. The book study is hosted by Mr. Greg at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard and Chapter 2 hosts are Latoya at Flying into First Grade, Amanda at The Primary Gal, and Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom.
Chapter 2 is a quick and easy read, only 5 pages! However, I think those 5 pages are some of the MOST important in the book! You know when you read a book and the author is speaking your language?! Just reaffirms absolutely everything you believe in?! Yep, this is that book for me! I haven't been this excited since "The Book Whisperer" by Donalyn Miller. These Miller gals got it going on!!
We must "make conscious decisions and take deliberate actions" to get us where we want to be. 
Debbie shares her six beliefs that guide her teaching and explains how she spent over a year developing them. It is not as easy as it sounds to research, examine, reflect, and put your beliefs into words. After she developed her beliefs, the next step was to align them with her classroom practices. She examined every aspect of her day. Many times they do not align, and you will have some tough decisions to make. Walking the walk is not always easy, we must reflect on our decisions and actions to ensure they align with our beliefs. Debbie says, "We're the ones in the unique and wonderful position to know where our kids have been, where they are now, and where it makes the most sense to take them next." 
Debbie asks her readers to begin the process of defining your beliefs and aligning your practices. I shared my vision for my classroom last week with Chapter 1, which you can find here
Debbie gives four questions to think about.
1. How do you go about teaching kids something new?
2. What principles guide you?
3. How do you know if kids are getting it?
4. What do you do when they don't? 
I had to write my teaching philosophy a few years ago for a course I was taking. One of my belief statements is, I believe learning best takes place in a safe and positive classroom environment where students feel secure, confident, respected, appreciated, and free to take risks. If you would like to read my full teaching philosophy, you can find it here. However, I need to go back through and make some updates. First of all, it is WAY too long, a full page in length. I want to make brief and to the point statements. I'm going to reflect on my beliefs and simplify my statements this year. 
All of Debbie's belief statements could apply to me, but my favorite was, "Learning is maximized when the lessons I design are purposeful, interactive, and engaging, with real world applications." I am very passionate about providing engaging, hands-on, purposeful learning experiences. 

Debbie recommends spending 15 minutes at the end of each day reflecting on what you learned and writing it down. Over the course of time, you will be able to review and begin writing your belief statements. She says to take your time, revise, rewrite, scratch out, and start over.  Once you have your belief statements, memorize them, display them, let them guide your teaching. 

Thanks for stopping by to get the scoop on chapter 2! Check back next week for chapter 3. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Teaching with Intention Book Study: Chapter 1

I am so excited to be joining in with an awesome group of bloggers for Mr. Greg's (Kindergarten Smorgasboard) book study on "Teaching with Intention" by Debbie Miller. I have had this book sitting on my nightstand in my "to read" pile all year and now that school is out I finally have time to dive in. Thank you to Mr. Greg and all of the fabulous bloggers hosting!

"Reading with Meaning" was such a wonderful book, so I know that "Teaching with Intention" will be as well. Debbie Miller rocks! Chapter One was all about your ideal classroom, which I think about constantly (as I'm sure all of you do).
I am a new teacher, so I actually dream about my ideal classroom all the time quite a bit! My ideal classroom is organized, child-centered, and engaging. Our classroom feels welcoming, safe, comfortable, and like a home away from home. It looks beautiful and calming with a green, turquoise, and blue color scheme, without being overstimulating or cluttered. Natural lighting, cozy pillows and rugs, plants, alternative seating, and baskets give it a comfortable/homey feel. Student work and class created anchor charts cover the walls. Materials are neat, organized, labeled, and easily accessible. Everything serves a purpose.

Our classroom sounds like a buzz of productive learning, with students reading to a partner, working together in stations, sharing book recommendations, laughing at the Pigeon's antics, collaborating with a group on a student-led project, and me on the floor conferring with students. Everyone is on task, knows just what they need to be doing, and they are busy taking ownership of their learning. Student choice is a huge motivator! Yes, there are definitely times when the classroom is silent, students engrossed with their reading during DEAR/Read to Self/independent reading time and busy working during Writer's Workshop, but much of the day students are busy with hands on learning experiences that are meant to get them thinking and sharing with one another. My ideal classroom is student-led and student focused.
I guess I kind of already answered that one, didn't I? I see myself as a facilitator, observing, guiding the students when needed, and conferring individually and with small groups most of the day. This really allows me to meet individual needs by differentiating my instruction and work with them on their learning goals.

My students are taking ownership and engaged in their learning, whether they are reading independently, working with a partner, using technology, collaborating in a small group, or working at a station. Their work covers the walls and they are proud of their accomplishments.

Each day starts off with a morning meeting to promote a positive classroom community and set the students up for success. We have a class read aloud of a mentor text and chapter book. Whole group lessons are keep short and sweet using Whole Brain Teaching techniques to improve student engagement and retention. We have Reader's Workshop, Writer's Workshop, Daily 5, Math Workshop, Number Talks, science, and social studies every day. Basically, all our time is spent being readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, and growing as learners!

Organization!! I have been working on organizing all of my materials, stations, supplies, and books! I have a wonderful library that is organized by topic/genre/author/series and labeled for the students to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. I have been working on leveling my early readers.

 I have all of my files separated and organizied by subject//topic/TEKS in binders. You can check out my binder covers here. I have also organized all of my station manipulatives and games into bins by subject/topic/TEKS. I am updating my labels for those and will be posting them on TpT soon. They coordinate with my binder covers, which match my color scheme of Dots on Turquoise.
I have purchased rugs, pillows, cushions, exercise balls, child sized chairs, lamps, and plants to help my vision of a comfortable and cozy classroom.
I am going to work on stepping back more to allow for a truly student led classroom! It is hard not to step in sometimes, but they learn through the struggle. I also want to set up a class website and have my students blog weekly, reading responses, reflections, thoughts, questions, anything to get them engaged!

Thanks for stopping by to get the scoop! Feel free to join in and link up to share your thoughts. Please come back next week for Chapter 2.