Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Curriculum Science Binder Tour!

Let's blow up balloons, pop some bubbly, and cue Lionel Richie's "All Night Long."  For the past three days I have been hard at work creating a science binder.  Oh goodness. Oh heavens. Oh my!  This binder just about got the best of me.  I finally finished!

My goal: create a go to resource for all labs, foldables, homework projects, supplemental worksheets, and more!

Seriously curriculum creators... Could ya please not make so many books?!?!?!  The study guide book, the reteach book, lab book, ELL materials, transparency binder and more! These books scatter about, get lost year to year in classroom moves, and sit on back shelves collecting dust.  I want a binder with all resources.  Ain't nobody got time for this!

Old Mr. Houghton Mifflin.

Shiny new science curriculum binder!

 Muahhahahahah...muahahahahaha...TABS!  LOTS and LOTS of TABS.  Tabs for chapters, tabs for lessons.  You can never have too many shoes... PSHAW!  I say you can never have too many tabs!  

If you would like to see a detailed science binder tour check out the video below!


Head to my You Tube channel and see TPT product links I used.  Subscribe to my channel!  I try to put out weekly teaching videos!

I thought I would include a few of the documents mentioned in the video.  

The document below I like to call my "chicken scratch computer notes." When I create something like this I don't expect anyone else to use it but me.  There will be parts you may be going what?!?!?!  I jot down quick notes in my own teacher language.  I hope it's helpful for you.  (let's see who can spot the typo in the first bullet point of the document.  Fast and furious creating I tell you leads to TYPOS!)

In other news, my little kitty had a first birthday party!  After much laughter and mocking from friends, Mr. Winemaker and I planned a kitty party. We took crazy cat owner status to the max.  Hey, if you are going to do it go all out!  Right?  We looked online for a cat cake recipe.  Here is a short little clip of the very PURR-fect (I know I need to stop!) birthday party.


(Just a paw to let you know...) 

                                                                  (I lubs you LuLu)

I hope you are having a great week!  Next stop on the summer-teacher-planning-train: Math Interactive Notebooks!  Wish me luck!  Let me know in the comments any planning you are up to!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Part 3 Teacher Survival Guide Post on Navigating School Politics, AND Teacher Pay Teacher Linky!

PART 3: New Teacher Survival Guide Series

How To: Navigate School Politics

Yes, you will find love, appreciation, and respect in your teaching profession.   Most students will give you all three, which will sustain you and bolster your resiliency.  To find and nurture love, appreciation and respect with your principal, colleagues and parents is often a trickier proposition. There are some cautionary maneuvers that are necessary during the first couple of years of teaching that will serve you well.  Faculty meetings, conversations with the principal,  relationship building with colleagues and parents are deemed the cautionary zones.  Always tap into your incredible intuition as you go about your business of the day.  More than likely if you follow your intuition all will be good. But when your intuition does not kick in or there is a full moon the following helpful tips will serve as a life vest in those choppy waters of politics.  

Your relationship with your principal is a keen consideration when looking for love, appreciation and respect.  During faculty meetings generally keep your mouth shut, especially if there is a heated topic.  This axiom holds true for the first couple of years when you are walking the tight rope of tenure.  When there is break out time for collaboration at table groups during a meeting, your input can be mashed with other comments and your voice can be discreetly heard.  Often you will have several questions after a faculty meeting; it is better to write those questions down and seek out a colleague who will provide the answers.  Usually there is a senior colleague who will dominate the meeting with comments and questions.  Let this person run the gauntlet, and you will stay safe.

What about the day to day interactions with the principal?  Note: safe and productive conversations with the principal have some boundaries as well.  The administration offices/office is a cautionary zone.   There are certain times when you will know without a doubt that a visit to the principal’s office is mandatory.  Some let’s-get-to-the-principal’s-office incidents would include a destructive student bully, a parent abusing his/her child, or signs of child neglect by parents.  However, generally you will not be visiting the principal’s office frequently; instead a low profile is advised.  When you do pop your head in give a brief update on something remarkable, awesome and fabulous that happened in your classroom that day.  This communication provides a nice, celebratory break for the principal.  Whenever you are grateful for something the principal has done to make your life easier, then a smile and a thank you goes a long way in building a solid relationship. 

Next, you need to consider your interactions with parents.  Relationships with parents are built slowly!  Do not fall into the trap of telling a parent your life story; it is better to keep a professional relationship.  A parent on a field trip may send out a message that he/she wants to be your good friend; this is a cautionary zone!  Yes, you will tell parents at back to school night some tidbits about your background, but use your good intuition or ask a colleague when in doubt about how much to share.  Never, let on that you have had very little experience teaching or  experience with a grade level.  Remember you have several years of experience acquiring your credential which qualifies you to teach several grades and your student teaching COUNTS!  Your relationship with parents is nurtured through parent conferences, newsletters, and friendly calls home to tell them about how wonderful Johnny was at school  today.  Parents are your support.  Parents are on your team to ensure that their child succeeds. Answer parent emails promptly.  Read your emails to parents two times before sending them off.  If upset about an email, better to wait a day before responding.  These tips will keep you in the happy zone.

Your happy zone is also dependent on your relationship with colleagues.  The politics around colleague relationships is a grey zone, which means exceptions exist. So these cautionary tips will help you determine possible red flags along the way.  Again, build your relationships with fellow teachers slowly, no life dump during an introductory conversation.  If you notice the colleague is a habitual gossip, but also hysterical and smart.  Proceed with caution.  Enjoy the jokes, but keep the relationship professional until you can be sure she/he has your back.  Avoid gossip at all cost, and in particular comments to colleagues about the principal.  The first few years of teaching are intense  emotionally and physically; you are vulnerable and often fragile.  Choosing the right colleague with whom to confide is part of the cautionary zone.  Better to confide with a best friend outside of your work during the first few months on the job.  Eventually, just one trusting colleague will make your journey easier.  Pick that person with care.

Each year the politic game gets easier.  You will know all the MOVES!  

Last but NOT Least!!!!  A new video! Be sure to watch and then join the linky. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Curriculum Maps and Part 2 of the Teacher Survival Guide Series

PART 2: New Teacher Survival Guide Series

Summer thoughts about teaching usually include ideas about classroom management systems and procedures.  A month before school starts you are hoping for the perfectly well behaved students that will hang on your every word, laugh at all your jokes and eagerly raise their hand to contribute.  But reality dictates that every teacher needs a bag of discipline tricks when things go awry.  Having reference books on discipline is helpful.  Instituting consistent prevention measures will delay issues.  And also, vowing to partner with parents, which is the cement that provides a foundation for effective discipline.  These are just a few get-you-started ideas that will ease your mind for the fall back to school kick-off.

To begin, explore classroom management advice from an expert.  Check out some of these favorite reference books on classroom management:    
  1. Discipline with Dignity  --New Challenges, New Solutions  3rd edition 
        by Richard L. Curwin, Allen N. Mendler and Brian D. Mendler

     2. Conscious Classroom Management  by Rick Smith

     3. Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones

     4. The Well-Managed Classroom by Harry Wong
For grades 5 and up, I would recommend Rick Smith’s book Conscious Classroom Management.  Each of these books has a good track record of providing practical, workable suggestions.  

Yes, some veteran teachers will advise that a teacher should not smile for the first month of school as the way to assert a no nonsense classroom. But that is not going to serve you well.  Instead, rely on these techniques: build trust with your students, get to know your students, lead by example, emphasize student affirmations , build a sense of community, provide a student friendly classroom that allows students to take more control of their environment, teach students how to work cooperatively with one another, build on student’s strong talents (Howard Gardner’s 7 intelligences), create lessons that are connected to the real world, scaffold lessons for mastery, hang new ideas on student’s prior knowledge to increase confidence and understanding, decide three classroom rules or norms that are emphasized, look for students that are doing what is expected and give them praise, use proximity (standing near a student) to discourage misbehavior.   Decide which idea you would like to develop in more depth and use your colleagues and reference books to launch your program.

Don’t under estimate the importance of communication with parents.  Parents who are given a clear picture of a teacher’s expectations and a window into what is happening in the classroom on a weekly/ monthly basis are more likely to support you when a  classroom behavior issue surfaces.   A newsletter to parents is money in the bank for a teacher, and here are a few more sure fire ways to get parents on your side: email parents when students are doing well, choose a student who is struggling to meet expectations and give him/her five minutes of one on one time with you for a week or more then share some of the positive interactions with the parent.  Schedule a parent conference when you sense you need more information about a student who is acting out.  Parents will sense that you truly care and help you build a plan. 

Stay tuned for more Teacher Survival guide posts to come!!!

Hello sweet teacher friends!  How is summer treating you?  The weather cooled off quite a bit this past week and I am loving the 80 degree temps as opposed to 100+! I took full advantage of the cooler weather and spent a week on house organization.  Check out my before and after bathroom video below.  Do you have any home projects you are working on this summer?

Then I spent three days in my classroom.  Mission:  Jump in and get work done before the custodians start the yearly carpet cleaning.  Oh the purging!  Oh the dust!  Oh the HORRER!  Ok... maybe that is a bit dramatic but STILL!!!! I feel great about all I got done.  Now I can focus on curriculum planning.

Have you entered my Erin Condren $25 gift certificate giveaway?  You still have time!  Click HERE to enter! 

I just uploaded a new video on my Sprinkle Teaching Magic You Tube Channel.  This video is all about Curriculum Maps.  Summer is the perfect time to plan a lunch date with colleagues and create/ revamp curriculum maps.  I design my curriculum maps using Power Point.  This video gives you a taste of how curriculum maps work best for me! Do you use a curriculum map?  Let's collaborate.  Leave me a comment with your curriculum map tips and tricks.

Thank you for stopping by Sprinkle Teaching Magic!  What are you up to this week?  My childhood friend from first grade is visiting today!  Can't wait for some girly time.  Cheers!