Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Participating in Global Read Aloud 2017! Why I've Done This 8 Times!


For those who don't know, Global Read Aloud is when students and teachers all over the world, literally, read a book together for 6 weeks. It started small and has become huge, due to the hard work and original idea of Pernille Ripp. And of course, all the other teachers involved in putting this together.

I am going to make a confession.
I am not really in it for the connections. Gasp!
I'm sorry, but it's true.
Do I make connections? Yes.
Do I enjoy the connections I make? Yes.
Am I connecting this year? Yes.
But that's not what it's about for me.

It's about the BOOK.
Whether it's  "Out of My Mind", "Tuck Everlasting", "The One and Only Ivan", "Fish in a Tree","The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane", "Pax"or this year's "The Wild Robot", it's about the BOOK.

It's about what the book does for my kids, my classroom, for reading.

The books that have been chosen always seem to resonate with my students. They REALLY enjoy the story. I LOVE reading to them, AND it has the added bonus of hitting all those skills we have to teach, without becoming laborious.

The last four years these books have created readers in my classroom. If some of them didn't read independently at any other time, they read during Global Read Aloud. The great part is my students always have their own books, with the exception of "The One and Only Ivan", due to the generosity of the donors on DonorsChoose. Nothing beats the pleasure of a brand new book that is just yours.
"Yes, it's yours. Yes, you can keep it!"
It's funny because I tell the kids they can donate the books back to the class, and I only get 4 or 5 books back every year. I don't mind, I hope it's because they will take the time to enjoy it again and again, or share it with someone else.

Global Read Aloud (#GRA14)just keeps getting better and better! The authors that are chosen have begun to participate, even those who have never used social media before. How cool! More books have been added so that various grade levels can participate.

For those of you who choose to connect, take advantage of the groups and information set up on Wiki, Edmodo , Flipgrid, Facebook, Seesaw,etc... Don't be scared, start small. Join a group, or not. Follow the pacing guide, or not. Most of all, enjoy reading aloud to, and with your class. Enjoy a good story!

As long as there is Global Read Aloud, and I am teaching, I will participate. Hopefully, you will consider joining as well, if you haven't yet. It's about that BOOK!:)




Sunday, October 15, 2017

Teacher, Heal Thyself!



And if you can't heal thyself, at least take care of yourself.

Update: I just finished reading the article "Should Teachers Take Mental Health Days". Teaching has become even more stressful since the time this was posted. When we talk avout social-emotional issues, we need to make sure we are addressing what teachers go through as well. If you need a day, take it.

I pulled a muscle while I was lifting on one of the machines at the gym the other day. I knew when I pulled up, things were not going to be good. My sister said, "You know you're not as young as you used to be." She is correct.:)

And yet, even though I was in pain all night, I still went to work the next day. Limping. Stupid me. You know why I went to work, even though my hubby asked me not to?  My kids were taking the state test. I did not want a stranger in the room while my kids took the state test. So, there I was, bent over in pain, with my students telling me I need to go to the doctor. (Smart kids) I promised them that if I did not feel better, I would stay out.

Hubby and I went out to a birthday dinner that night, and when we left I had him drive me straight to the medical center. I was in that much pain. 2 Advils and 2 muscle relaxers later, I was texting the secretary asking her to get me a sub. I didn't go in.

We have to stop. Yeah, including myself. Teachers in my school come in sick, bent over, limping. It's what we do. We need to stop.

I went in this week, feeling somewhat better. But I felt I had to come in because I had a Mystery Skype scheduled. Couldn't let down my kids and the kids we were Skyping with, now could I?

I know how much we care about our students. But we also have to take care of ourselves. There will always be a body that they can throw in our rooms. Stay well teachers!




photo credit: deadstar 2.1 via photopin cc

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The "Bad Kid" Label Sticks: Let's Remove It!


Sometimes, ok many times, she could be loud.
She rolled her eyes and twirled her neck. Often.
Her behavior was everyone else's fault, never hers.

But as the school year progressed, she changed.
She evolved.

Was she perfect? By, no means.
Did I require perfection from her?
No, why should I?

But I observed waaaaay less yelling, bullying, eye rolling and neck twirling.
Way less.

In my End-of-the-Year card! :)
I never yelled at her.
I  talked to her, not "at" her.
I listened to her.
I would allow her to lead.
Let her use her voice for good.
I resisted the power struggle.
Had to, because sometimes she would take me there.:)
And we grew together throughout the school year.

We grew to understand each other.
She knew I "didn't play", but I loved her anyway.
She knew to grab that Ipad, set the timer for 5 minutes, and go to the buddy classroom because I needed a timeout. :)
I learned there was a girl who needed to know she was more than a loud, bullying, eye-rolling, neck twirling child.
We built a relationship.

As the school year ended, I chose her to be the mayor at JA Biztown.
She was amazing!
Everything ran smoothly, she gave her speech to the "citizens."
I was so proud. What a leader!

But here's the thing with the "bad" kid.
Some educators don't want to let go of the label that has followed that student for years.

"I can't believe out of all the kids in your room, you chose her to be the mayor!"

Really?

I have this pesky habit of believing in the "bad" kid, just as I believe in all my kids.
I believe in giving kids a fresh start, and not believing the hype that follows them.
I believe educators should stop chasing down the previous teachers to get the "scoop" on a child and then continue to treat that child the same way they were the previous year.

Thre's no magic wand to change a child.
And sometimes, what is tried, fails.
This year, give the "bad" kid a chance to be viewed as good, or at least as worthy as everyone else.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#WhatSummerBreak vs. #SummerBreak- A Teacher's Hashtag!


Why do I often feel the need to convince "others" (Meaning people who are not teachers, do not work with teachers, or are not married or partners of teachers.),that my summer vacation is well-deserved and/or not really a break at all?

Which, by the way, is exactly what I am doing in this blog post! LOL

This post stemmed from my participation as a delegate at the NEA RA (National Education Association Representative Assembly). The delegate who proposed this hashtag felt that the #whatsummerbreak was needed because so many "others" felt that teachers just get the summer off to do absolutely nothing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) The delegate wanted teachers to post using the #whatsummerbreak to prove to "others" that teachers really don't enjoy their summer break the way other people think they do.

I guess this is a good time to mention that the RA lasted a week, I attended Friday through Wednesday. I worked 10 hour days, including Sunday and the 4th of July. (Ahem!)

Anytyway. The point is there are many, many, many, many, teachers working their way through their "summer break." Some of them are really working, as in, they have jobs. Jobs they MUST have in order to survive until school begins again, or this is their all-the-time 2nd job in order to survive.

Then we have the teachers who are doing, we'll call it "school stuff." Conferences, classes, summer school,(Wait, that's a job), and .or book studies.  Some of them are home, or in their classrooms, preparing for the new school year. Whether it's redesigning rooms, adjusting or creating new lesson plans, etc... I changed grades last year, so most of  my summer last year was spent getting ready for the new curriculum.

So yeah, for thousands of teachers around the country, the #whatsummerbreak does apply.(Watch this video)

But for those educators, or anyone else who deals with Other People's Children, do not, as I find myself doing much too often, feel the need to justify why you are off! EVER!

For 10 months you do what most people could not. You deal with parents, their children, other teachers, coaches, administrators. You write lesson plans, grade papers, attend PD, arrive early, leave late, give up countless hours of your time, coach, run after-school programs, and you never,ever, stop thinking about those kids, "your kids.".

And, before the "others" say it, yes, you willingly signed up for this job. But this job, this job can suck the life out of you.

SO, if for 2 months you want to sit on a beach, travel around the world, play with your kids, binge on a  Netflix, (substitute any streaming device here), show, talk to your significant other about something other than school, then do it! You deserve it, and don't you ever feel the need to justify it. #summerbreak

Please feel free to post to either hashtag #summerbreak or #whatsummerbreak and enjoy the rest of your summer!

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Tell Me About Your Number!" Adding a Little Somethin',Somethin' with QR Codes!


I try to switch up what we do for Morning Meeting activities.

And once it warms up, I try to make whatever we do take place outdoors.
So I came up with this little activity,"Tell Me About Your Number!"
You need devices, but you do not need Wifi, just download a QR code reader. I use Inigma.

First, I created QR code sheets using the QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator. When I created them, I only put the number and an asterik because all I wanted the kids to see was a number when they scanned it. Once you create your "quiz", it is very easy to print the QR codes, they are made for you.

I have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) classroom and a couple of Ipads, so the kids were split up into groups of 2 or 3. Each group was given a worksheet to write their answers, and a QR code sheet. The students had 2 jobs. They had to go around and scan the other groups QR code and a number would appear.

Next, when the number appeared, they had to write the number AND an equation for that number. It could be addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division or a combination of operations. The team with the most equations completed won. They were timed, had to vary the operations, and of course, their equations had to be correct.

I loved watching my students work. They really enjoyed this. They were engaged the entire time and came up with a number of ways to represent each number. My students love competition, but you could always take that out of the equation.:)

The kids had fun, solved problems, were engaged, and collaborated.! Adding QR codes to this activity was a way to take something simple and pump it up!