You brighten each and every day. You may not know this but I look forward to school because of you. I know school is hard. Every day I see the worry on your face. School goes quickly. Daily changes throw you off-course. You worry. About yourself. You cry because you have no friends. No one invites you to their birthday party. You worry about the weather. In a drought, will the animals suffer? You obsess.
I don’t even mind that you blurt out. I walk in your shoes. The idea explodes to the surface and you can’t contain it any longer. I am patient and smile. We will work on this. At least you have interest. At least you participate. At least you are taking a risk.
You have talents and wisdom far beyond your years. I don’t think you realize this. That is my job. You have enthusiasm for science, word play in poetry, and mythical creatures. I can’t teach creativity and passion. You got it. Others may brush you off. There he goes again. I smile. You were given a window into this world that not a lot of us have. You have the power to get so wrapped up in what interests you the rest of the world disappears.
Throughout the day students see how special you are to me. I model how to treat you with respect and dignity. I model how to talk to and appreciate you. Your classmates observe and follow my lead. The classroom wouldn’t be the same without you. There would be a void. Too quiet. Too blah. We need you in our patchwork. I see your classmates look out for you. I see protectiveness grow. We are a unit and team. We have your back.
You have your days when the tears come fast. When you blink rapidly and try to stand strong. These are the days when you have missed the social cues. Social cues. Little things we take for granted that are land mines for you. I assure you. I remind you of powerful affirmations you can repeat. Take deep breaths. I listen and help you to navigate the confusion. I try to provide the best Cliff Notes I can so that in the future, an encounter with your peer may come easier.
Thank you for your honesty. Your bluntness. Thank you for coloring outside the metaphorical lines. Thank you for being in my class. My heart has grown so fond of you. You push me to be a better and more patient teacher. You push me to develop new and innovative ways to meet your needs. You make me laugh. There are times when you say things and I shouldn’t laugh. But I can’t hold it in. You make me laugh so hard that it echoes off the walls of our classroom and fills the hearts of all my students. My mission every day is to make you smile. You approach life with a furrowed brow and seriousness. I make little silly sounds and shoot funny faces just for you to see. I send you a wink. If I am lucky, for a brief moment, I see the glimmer in your eye. Maybe we have connected.
I am your teacher, and I will fight for you every day. I just see you. Thank you for being you.
Happy March and Pay Day everyone. Oh, the possibilities of a new month! I love a fresh start. Plus, March is Spring Break time. 2 more weeks and counting. Then just a hop skip and jump away from summer vacation. Time to link up with Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade for another installment of Currently.
Listening: Music does the soul good. I forget. Go through funks. Then I realize if I just turned music on, I may feel happier. When I get home from a long day of work, I usually put on my Tony Bennett Pandora station. Sometimes I mix it up and need some B.I.G. Once the music is on, my inclination to plop on the couch subsides. I bustle around the house picking things up and putting the dishes away. I sing along and my mood is uplifted.
Loving: There. Are. No. Words. Enjoy.
Thinking: About how much I loved filming my latest teaching video. (seen below) March just screams RAINBOW month to me. Now I am pondering what my next Teaching video should be about… Help me brainstorm ideas in the comments. Have you subscribed to my teaching video channel? I would love to have you stop by and visit. youtube.com/teachingmagic
Wanting: I caved. I folded. I succumbed to the Erin Condren planner hypnosis. All it took was one little look-sy over on her website. Soon I was picking out colors, and covers, and had a Life Planner in my cart. Not sorry. one. bit! My planner arrived this week, and I am wanting some time to start filling it in: my exercise plans, meal plans, and day to day goals.
Needing: Mr. Winemaker and I have recently become obsessed with Open Houses. It all started when we were out on a walk and the smell of freshly baked cookies tempted us towards an open door. Like Hansel and Gretel being led to the Witches lair we were soon chatting it up with Realtors and getting a tour of a million plus house. We were hooked. Cookies. YES! Cool houses. Yes! The House Hunting obsession grew when my mom subscribed to the local paper for us. Did you know there is an Open House pull out section?!?!?! Now our Sunday routine is munching our way through beautiful Open Houses. We also love to discuss what we would want someday in our dream home. My request is a pimped out bathroom. Picture this. A claw foot tub. Diptyque candles. Bubbles. Wine. And ALLLLL the relaxes. Needing This NOW!
??????- Rosemary????? Try guessing in the comments what Rosemary has to do with anything and everything and me! Muahahahahahahahaha! I love a good guessing game.
Sprinkle Teaching Magic's Book Review: Pathways to Common Core
Pathways to the Common Core (Accelerating Achievement) by Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth and Christopher Lehman 2012 by Heinemann Press You may recognize one or more of the authors. Their expertise lends credence to the assertions and suggestions provided in this book.
The verdict is still out about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Are the standards developmentally appropriate? Will the changes occur in a way that supports both students and teachers? To answer the wealth of Common Core questions circulating through the staff room and board room, we turn to experts in the field who have jumped into the deep end of Common Core and have tested the waters. Pathways to Common Core includes information about writing, literature, speaking and listening common core standards. The authors include warnings, resources, priorities, processes, suggestions, examples and myths. The authors connect the many CCSS dots for K-12 teachers, so teachers will make informed decisions when putting energy into the changes.
Pathways to Common Core gives educators a practical blue print to launch CCSS. The first 21 pages offers an authors’ introduction to CCSS, which is clear and concise. We are reminded in this introduction that the CCSS document explicitly says, “the Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach” (2010a,6) The authors highlight key CCSS guidelines, such as cross-curricular literacy, respecting the professional judgment of classroom teacher, and stressing the importance of critical citizenship. The introduction also includes a helpful three step implementation process fora district to use to launch CCSS, which will not break the bank and give teachers essential support.
Chapters two through five focus on reading standards.The message is clear that tackling the reading standards may result in possible pitfalls. The authors provide solutions to these anticipated pitfalls by naming proven programs that are already on the market, such as Fountas and Pinnell system for leveling for K-8. Grade level examples (K-12) are given to explain student progress toward a reading skill. Chapter three includes a four step process to guide implementation of CCSS reading instruction. Technology resources and web sites are highlighted such as the RWP website http://readingandwritingproject.com/ and Goodreads, an online system. Chapter four has a well defined teacher collaboration approach using Charlotte’s Web to gain deeper understanding of the teaching strategies for reading instruction. Chapter four also provides reading strategies and examples of how student engagement would look in a high functioning reading lesson. Next, chapter five delves into reading informational texts and what it means to focus on “close reading” which is textual analysis, not personal response. First, informational text skills are highlighted and then the authors explain the implementation process and how to overcome the challenges. If you like getting the big picture of CCSS, the first half of the book will have you wanting more.
Chapters six through nine cover the writing standards. The authors emphasize that “the standards issue a call for extremely high levels of proficiency.” p107 The examples provided of student writing help clarify the writing expectations for different grade levels. The kindergarten writing sample has created a stir. On a bright note, you will be happy to learn that “Common Core writing standards seem utterly aligned to the writing process tradition...” p112 Chapters seven through nine presents a wealth of information as an overview for the following three writing genres: argument, narrative and information writing. Each chapter concludes with very helpful ideas for implementing the featured writing genre. The authors provide a piece of sage advice for districts, namely, to start CCSS professional development using writing as a focus area.
Speaking and listening standards can be found in chapter ten. Put simply, the skills that students will practice are 1) talking together to understand texts and 2) students making oral presentations. A major shift for many classrooms is emphasized----- a requirement that students “make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information...”p. 167 The suggestions about teaching vocabulary and grammar will also start a rich discussion with your colleagues.
Chapter eleven is a critical chapter to discuss as a staff. Change is not easy, so the authors become the cheerleaders for how to make the change happen. The title of the chapter---- CCSS-Aligned Assessments Fuel Whole-School Reform is the center of the change movement. A faculty book study using Pathways to Common Core is sure to engage EVERYONE.
In the comments below let me know how you are feeling about Common Core? Will you consider reading this book? Do you have another book that has been helpful? How is your district getting ready for Common Core?
Instead of my usual Saturday Sprinkles Linky Party Post, I am mixing it up this week! Twitter is my next frontier! For years I have been confused and puzzled by Twitter. Just like any new social media, Twitter seems overwhelming, daunting, confusing, and I wonder---- where do I even start?!?!?! My boyfriend uses Twitter all the time. He is a hockey fan and during the hockey game people from around the United States will tweet about his favorite team and use the hashtag #nyr. He can search this hashtag and participate in a running conversation during the game. I love this idea! It hit me. Are teachers chatting on twitter? I started doing some research by seeking out teachers on Twitter. Almost every teacher I found has a "ghost town" of a twitter page. Yes, teachers are using Twitter. When a teacher posts a blog post, there will be a link to Twitter. Any Instagram pics or posts on Facebook are linked to Twitter with a generic post. I love the idea of spreading the content teachers create, but I wonder if it's working? Are other teachers listening? Or is it just a big push? Notice MMMMMEEEEE! I am guilty of pushing too. There is no conversation among colleagues; instead it's check out my post, check out my link. I posted a picture on Instagram and Facebook; check it out. The potential for collaboration and communication is missing. However, Twitter provides collaboration and communication opportunities for teachers.
Yes, teachers have embraced several media platforms, Instagram, Blogs, Pinterest and YouTube. Instagram for teachers is thriving. I LOVE Instagram! I have found a community of teachers and love seeing what is happening in their classrooms. I have also made wonderful teacher friends through Instagram even though we live miles and miles apart. The #widn (what am I doing now) tag is huge! Search #teachersfollowteachers or #teachertalktuesday and you will find a database of great instagram pictures posted by teachers. Teacher blogs are also thriving and a wonderful place to link up and share our classroom happenings. And of course who could forget Pinterest! Ideas galore all at the click of a button.
But what about conversations? Live conversations? Discussing educational topics? Getting together in real time to just chat? Maybe we should launch a Twitter chat? Topic:
This week I picked the Twitter topic Valentine's Day because February 14th is fast approaching.
When: On Sunday, February 9th at 12 PST/ 2 EST for 30 minutes all of us could virtually meet-up on Twitter. I see so many teacher meet-ups in other states that I wish I could attend but I live much too far away! Why not meet up virtually?!?!?! With the Valentine's Day topic we could share links to our Valentine's Freebies, ask each other questions about whether our school allows a celebration, and if so, what do we have planned, share ideas, crafts, read alouds, funny stories and much more! Twitter Tutorial Available---- so no excuses! Now there is one slight problem… what if you are new to Twitter, don't have a Twitter account, and not quite sure how to get started. NO PROBLEM! I will include info graphics and links below that will help you get started. 1. Go to Twitter.com and sign up for a free account.
Here is my iPhone's home screen. Yikes! I am so bad about deleting emails. The Twitter App is installed near the bottom of my phone.
The Wiki How To Use Twitter is the most straight forward and clear instruction guide I have seen. I am a visual learner and the pictures in this tutorial really helped me understand Twitter. Click HERE to follow the guide.
Here is my Twitter page. I named it ShesparkleTV after my lifestyle YouTube channel and blog. I am still in the very beginning stages of Twitter. Hopefully you will join me so we can learn together.
On Sunday when we have our Virtual Teacher Meet-Up open up your Twitter App and search the hashtag #sprinkleteachingmagic This hashtag will help us all find one another! You can see I have searched for Lauren Conrad, my favorite YouTuber Tanya Burr and wine!
Today I searched for the hashtag #sprinkleteachingmagic and there are no tweets. That is because we have not started our Sunday Meet-Up and started using this hash tag!
My favorite Twitter personality is Blunt Educator! Once you sign up check out his twitter page.
Bellow are some of the amazing teachers I follow on Twitter!
*The following info graphic is from THIS website. A great article by Joyce Valenza on how Twitter can be a valuable tool for teachers.
This slide show really breaks twitter down in manageable chunks of info!
Is anyone else suffering from end of the month exhaustion? January is the month that goes on FOOOOOREEEEVEEEERR! My goodness! Friday's paycheck could not come soon enough! I am such a broke joke. The good news is we all survived and it is time to kick back Saturday style and enjoy some yummy classroom sprinkles. What was going on in your classroom this week? Feel free to Link Up anytime! The Link Up information is at the end of the blog post.
I will kick off State Reports next week with my 5th graders! To tap into the student's prior knowledge and to start the State Study, I created an art project, which turned out fantastic! First, I played Tony Bennett's I Left My Heart In San Francisco. We discussed how cities and states become special and memorable. Students chose four states (some students wanted to pick countries that had meaning to them instead) that had special meaning for them or their family.
When deciding on the four states, students turned to their family for ideas. A student shared a story about a favorite jacket. She wore the jacket until it was torn and worn out. She learned that it was sewn by her grandmother. She chose the state where her grandmother lived and where she visited when she was much younger. The state took on special meaning because of the beloved jacket that was lovingly sewn by her grandmother.
All of the work was completed in class, which gave me an opportunity to guide students to do their very best work, such as…… use a ruler to ensure straight lines when writing on unlined paper, checking for spelling errors before tracing in black Sharpie, clearly indicate the importance of the state to one's family. In many cases, the students experienced a number of do-overs before the project was ready for all the world to see (posted on the window for others to enjoy).
When they worked collaboratively to check one another's work, students learned about each other and about the states. Often students used an atlas or maps to accurately represent the information. I learned a wealth of information about my students. Some had never traveled out of California. We spread the work over a week. It is a great project that can be taken out at any time. The enthusiasm and engagement never waned. Magical.
Happy Saturday Sprinkles Day! Do you have any classroom sprinkles to share? Please link up below! Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the weekly Healthy Happy Teacher post!
No school on Monday and a field trip Wednesday made the week fly by in a blur. The hi-light of the week had to be our field trip to the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco. The logistics of six parent chaperones driving students over an hour to San Francisco makes me briefly question going on the trip. Now add to that a parent driver canceling the night before, one canceling the morning of the field trip, an accident in Marin and you have yourself one frazzled teacher. Once we arrived at the Creativity Museum (an hour and a half late), I remembered how fantastic this field trip is for the kids and I let out a relieved sigh.
Two weeks before the field trip, we launched in to the American Revolution. Students were split in seven groups and each group researched one of the following topics: the French and Indian War, Battle of Bunker Hill, Paul Revere, Boston Massacre, Boston Tea Party, Battle of Yorktown, and the Winter at Vally Forge. Groups created a storyboard depicting their historical person or event. Class time was spent reviewing historical facts for accuracy, creating clay characters, illustrating a backdrop, and prepping for movie-making. On field trip day, the storyboard came to life in an animated claymation movie.
The Children's Creativity Museum has camera equipment for each group and software to do stop-motion animation. Check out the videos below and see our creations! (Sorry, the movies are quick and probably confusing.) On Friday we had a popcorn party and movie showing! Students explained the symbolism behind each blob and clay figure.
Each day a teacher carefully decides the key topics to be addressed that day. When a teacher decides to have students set goals; the strategy pays big dividends. Robert Marzano in his book, Classroom Instruction that Works, provides ten research-based teaching strategies which are key to student academic success. One of the ten strategies is goal setting.
Student goal setting is a critical skill to ensure a student’s life success, both personal and academic. The skill of goal setting requires self assessment, which does not come naturally for students. Most importantly students are taught to value their own perceptions of how they learn and are guided to trust themselves and their experiences. Students begin to take responsibility for the choices they make in order to take control of their destiny. The student is no longer in a “teacher dominated” classroom. Rather, the student is empowered.
How does a teacher embolden the student to set doable, realistic, make-a-difference goals? The teacher models goal setting using the think aloud strategy. The students listen to the teacher’s thought processes while he/she sets a goal. Initially the student is encouraged to set goals in an area of strength. For instance if the student is stronger in math than language arts, then encourage the student to start by setting math goals. The student might set a goal to study for math tests, explain math concepts to their table group, and maybe to consistently participate in the math lesson. Once the goals are created, a system to keep the goals alive is the next important step. A 3x5 index card is where the student writes the goals, and the index card is attached to the top of the desk. Students often reflect on their effort to meet the goal and put a check next to the goal to celebrate that on that day they met the goal. When students have not met their goal, the teacher reinforces their commitment by encouraging them to try again. A lapse in effort is not a failure, but rather a chance to do it better next time. Confidence grows with each check next to the goal. Students also reflect on goals by talking about the goals with their table group. Students then are accountable to one another. Students may track their progress by graphing test scores. Students may set a goal about what they want to learn when studying about the human body, such as “I want to know more about the kidneys and how they work. My grandpa is having a kidney replaced soon.” Checking in with the student once a week on their progress is a way to connect the dots for the student; a student understands that goals are connected to better grades. The teaching magic is passing the power baton to the student.
What inspires a student to step out of their comfort zone and reach new heights when learning is rigorous and struggle is necessary? What gives the student with low self-esteem the drive to try again after a set back? The answer is practicing affirmations. Affirmations increase student resiliency and is a key piece of the goal setting process. Affirmations provide the mental parachute when the student is free falling. There are web sites that provide affirmations for students. Choosing affirmations that meet the needs of your students is important. Some powerful affirmations that have worked for my students are: I contribute to the learning environment in every way that I can. My life is what I make of it and today I make it a great place to learn! I hear and I know. I see and I can. I DO and I achieve.
Setting goals and fulfilling the goals gives students needed stability in their life. Students are mindful of the importance of buying into the learning process, rather than being a complacent bystander. When students have a plan, the anxiety of a new experience lessons. Life becomes less about competition and more about self improvement. Parents also become partners in the process. Explaining the importance of goal setting and affirmations at Back to School will bring them on board. Also, set classroom goals. When students are on recess the class behavior goal could mean a visit from the playground supervisor extolling your class on just how amazing your class behaves. And yes, the teacher’s life becomes a little easier when the entire team, parents and students, are tracking and achieving worthy goals.