Monday, September 17, 2012

County Fair

      What feels more like fall than a county fair?  For the past couple of weeks, my students have been learning about farm animals, their importance to NC, and have been busy doing some writing activities as well.  I guess I got all excited thinking about cotton candy and funnel cakes, so my family and I took a little field trip of our own.  

Research, I called it......

Because I hadn't been to a fair in a really, really long time....

 Neither had my girls.  The last picture of them at the fair was, well..maybe when they were still in a stoller.  It was hot. And crowded. But it was a fun day, and there were a LOT of animals.  The pigs were adorable. And there was a whole section called the "mooternity" ward, for pregnant cows. obviously
I have found some free ideas from tpt that I wanted to share with other teachers. (Although, at this moment, the site is having a technical glitch, so I will add the links as soon as I can.) I am reading Charlottes' Web to my class and went in search of some first grade supplemental activities.  I found these Blue Ribbon Vocabulary words that we put on a bulletin board and are listening for in the story.

We've also worked on describing words for pigs and made up our own poems with the following framework: 

We even ate "piggy bread" for snack....

When we talked about cows, we read "Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type" and talked about the cows' point of view.  Then we designed our own talking cows and came up with questions that a cow might ask the farmer...

And finally we worked on labeling the parts of a farm, as well as various farm animals...

This week, our "theme within the theme" is "apples".  We are beginning to learn about Johnny Appleseed, uses for apples, apple math, apple writing,  and a few facts about NC apple orchards.

And I really REALLY needed this today.  A mom gave this to me last year, and I LOVE it. I take a deep breath and relax each time I look at it:

Keep calm, everyone:)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Teacher's Assessment

Lately, I've had a little change of attitude.  School has felt like a hobby this year.  Don't get me wrong, at the end of the day, I am not exactly wishing for extended hours, but I just feel happy and renewed.  I am ENJOYING what I do.

     There have been a few years when I dreaded going to work each day. And I had the Sunday blues every single week. I felt bogged down more and more, as state demands grew. (and paychecks diminished)These past two weeks, as we have been "assessing" right and left, I realized what the difference is this year.  I have been so busy in the past few years making sure my professional evaluations were completed on time, that I got my students grouped in the exact right ways according to DIBELS, that my class profile was filled out and all the testing portions were complete, that my other endless school "to-dos" were checked off, that I pushed the lesson planning to the end.  It was what I did AFTER I worked on all the important stuff.  YOU know, the stuff that comes with deadlines. I put the minors before the majors, so to speak.

     Of course I have KNOWN that the children come first.  I am there for them, not the paperwork.  This year, my TEACHING is coming first.  The state will still get what they need from me.  The data will be collected, measured and I will use it as I see fit, realizing that data does not measure a whole child.  Data is a number that represents a testing experience of which a number of extraneous factors must be considered. (In first grade, the factor could be a fly zooming around during the one minute timed assessment:)

     I guess what I'm saying is, that I am in the process of restructuring my priorities in life.  My priorites at school are those precious little six and seven year olds who come to my classroom every day and look forward to what we get to do and learn each day.  They look to me to provide them with interesting learning experiences, not stressful data collection. And if I enjoy school, they enjoy school:)


In amongst the assessing going on, we have begun a "County Fair" theme for September.  We are reading the book Charlottes' Web, learning to ask and write QUESTIONS, (as opposed to "One time, I..." comments), we are comparing fiction elements to nonfiction ones, learning some "blue ribbon" vocabulary words, learning farm animals and how to "label" parts of a farm, we are learning to discuss character point of view, and comparing/contrasting farm animals to forest animals.  And of course we work in a few craftivities:)

In math we are continuing to work on number sense to 20, specifically combinations for sums of 7, 8 and 9. I am still getting used to Math Investigations.  It moves a little more slowly, and is a little more "active" than what I've used in the past!

Next week we'll do some apple activities and of course, talk about Johnny Appleseed.  I will do my best to post pictures soon.  When the testing is finally over....

Speaking of Whole Brain...any teacher friends out there using it with good results?  We've tried "Class/Yes", "Whisper/Release"(that one is my fave)"Teach", "mirror", and the "rules".  I haven't had training on Whole Brain Research, but I've been watching videos and thought I'd experiment with a few techniques.  I do think it helps students stay more engaged, perhaps. The kiddos really like the ten finger "Woo-hoo":)Leave me a comment if you are trying some Whole Brain techniques in your classes....

Enough of my rambling...thanks for reading:)