Thursday, December 15, 2011

Main Idea... of Literacy Class

Today we began discussing Main Idea in Literacy Class, so I thought I'd share the main idea of my classes!

The main idea of my class is to get students reading at grade level...

To do so I will:

1. Have my students read silently everyday.

2. Participate in 6-minute solution every class period. This is where students will read the same passage 5 days in a row in one minute increments. They will record how many words they read correctly each day and track their progress. They get to see how reading and rereading things increases fluency! So awesome!

3. Learn and apply the basics (basics meaning: main idea, setting, characters, and conflict.)

4. Take practice comprehension tests.

The main thing I want to know is:


Some of my kiddos (6th-8th graders) are reading at 3rd and 4th grade reading levels. How is it that they were passed along from grade to grade with hardly any support! It makes me sad, but I am very happy that I am able to help them! I am teaching them basic things that I have known since elementary school, and many of these concepts are completely new to them! Its kind of nice to see the light bulb go on! :)

I just hope they can apply these skills in their regular ed classrooms and on those dreaded MCA and NWEA tests!

I get to go to a Christmas party tonight, so I am excited!
Hope you all have a
Thrilling Thursday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gotta be a Good Life!

I have to love the fact that our Theater is putting on productions of their play today...During 1st, 2nd, and 3rd hours 6th and 7th graders are excused from class to view the play. I have 7th graders 1st and 2nd. What a shame... time to catch up on planning and figuring out the issues I am having with online grading!
Not to mention I sleep in 2 hours longer than I did for my first job. I kind of love it! I was leaving home at 6am when I was teaching at RMS... I get to sleep in until 7:30 at my newest job, I don't even leave the house until 8:20. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Survival Mode!

I must say that I am a HUGE fan of collaboration...but collaboration only goes so far and then it becomes utter confusion.

My biggest difficulties of the week:

1. The Principal not understanding that 42 minutes isn't enough time to have 15 minutes of reading time and a 10 minute reflection... I have to teach my kiddos skills somewhere!

2. No support... I love the team I work with. They seem to do a great job with their classes, but I need feedback from them to help their students. I can't meet their standards unless they reach out and tell me what their students need to work on. So for now, I am focusing on the basic skills of reading: fluency, comprehension, and analyzing stories.

I feel like I am not doing this in the manner in which they want me to, but I don't know what else to do. These students need stability in their lives, and they don't seem to be getting it at this school. Most of the student population come from inner city STP, and were removed from their schools due to discipline reasons. Allowing them to run the classroom isn't going to help them succeed. I work with small groups, 4-6 students, and they seem to think it is ok to get up whenever they want to. I squashed that right away. That isn't something that is okay in a small group setting. When one student leaves, it can be 25% of the class!

I don't like being negative, I am not a negative person. I love working with these students. They are struggling readers who know they need my help, I am just struggling to make an impact due to the lack of organization at this school. (I don't even have a key for my office space)

Until I get some feedback, or don't... I am going to work with the students on basic skills of reading that will help them to survive the MCA and MAP testing they are required to do bi-yearly. They will be reading and re-reading a single story 3 times to develop skills with making inferences, vocabulary, comprehension, determining main idea, fluency, and finding characters, setting, and plot. These are all skills that any student can benefit from receiving extra help, so I think this is the correct route to go....

Have I mentioned that I have no curriculum... I have a bunch of Reading Reference books, but no solid curriculum. That means, I spend a lot of time on the internet finding stories and worksheets, meanwhile creating my own for these students to work with.

Don't forget, I am a long term substitute... normally, this is not on the menu for long term subs. However, this is great experience for me. I feel that if I can take nothing and turn it into a class, I will be able to develop a class with curriculum no sweat! :)

I still look forward to working with the students to see how they respond to my strategies! Hopefully they can develop skills and become more independent in their reading abilities..

Yay for progress!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Just a LITTLE Frustrated...

I'm having a bit of a HARD time with the planning process for my classes. The problem comes with not knowing if I will be hosting kiddos for 20 minutes or 42. For those of you non-teachers, I am sure you can understand, but for those teacher readers out there, it is a huge part of planning! They keep telling me they are in the process of creating my classes, but I am supposed to start with students on Monday...IT'S FRIDAY!
I have spent a lot of time observing this past week, and getting ideas for my class sessions, but it is still really hard to plan without actually seeing the test scores and needs of my students. I've done some discussing with other language specialists, and gotten a LOT of ideas and I think I have it narrowed down to a plan for all of my classes of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders:

1. Sustained Silent Reading 15 minutes (hoping that I will have my students for 42 minutes)

2. 5-day rotation between current event comprehension skills, Humanities (social studies) comprehension, vocabulary development, fictional elements and skills, and choice comprehension.

3. Throw in fluency 3 out of the 5 days of that rotation and that will be my class!

I will not have students 5 days a week. The students will follow an A/B schedule, so I will see them every other day.

As you can see, this rotation includes A LOT of reading comprehension. No matter what, kiddos need to work on reading comprehension. In the first 5-day rotation, I will spend time getting to know the students skills, personalities, and re-teaching the basics of reading intervention. We will go over strategies in reading and skills they can use in everyday reading.

This is not a "set in stone" deal. I haven't gone over this plan with the principal because he hasn't had a whole lot of time to meet with me. Hopefully I will meet his expectations for this program. The school is kind of putting a lot on my plate as a Long Term Substitute, but I think this has the potential to be great experience for me for my future job prospects.

This post is kind of TO BE CONTINUED... not sure what will happen. Today could lead to more understanding, or it might not. We'll see!

Monday, November 28, 2011

You are now entering...a no door classroom... What happens if I'm too loud!?

Just a few pictures of my new classroom. I am a little nervous about the "open door" classroom. I am really loud when I teach! Good thing there aren't many classrooms very close to mine! It is kind of nice being a long term substitute.... I get to steal ideas from other teachers!
Today was an interesting day... Sat around looking at curriculum. When I was finally able to meet with the principal, I found out I wouldn't even be using this curriculum and that I would be coming up with my own ideas.
This could be an interesting challenge. I am a teacher who loves to make real-world connections, and now I can use newspaper articles and other current events as the basis to my instruction. It has the potential to really help kiddos on the MCA and MAP tests because they are absolutely FILLED with newspaper type articles!
I have a lot to plan and get ready for in the next four days...
The principal is trying to decide if I am going to have my own classes or if I am going to be a "pull-out" teacher. We really need to figure this out before I start planning because if I have my own classes, I will have 42 minute sessions, but if I pull kids out, I will only have 20. I can work with either, but it is kind of a big part of planning! We will see. I met a few of the Language A (fancy IB term for English) teachers today, and they are excited to help me out. I love collaborating, so this could be fun. It also has the potential to give me tons of ideas for my own future guided reading and intervention groups!
I am excited to use different resources to help these kiddos get back on track with their reading abilities. I get to observe in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Language A classrooms tomorrow to see what types of learners I will be working with starting next week! As far as I know, the student population is very diverse, but that makes finding relevant and high-interest articles even more fun because there are so many types of kiddos! (I love that I call them kiddos and some of them will be 15).
Anxious to get the ball rolling, except for this thing they call a PC they gave me for a computer. I'm such a MAC girl... I guess I will find a way to deal! ;)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Title, New Ideas, New Reasons

this blog originally started as a blog to go along with my teacher education training... that is changing because SURPRISE! I am done with that! I am now a licensed elementary and middle school Language Arts teacher! :) :)

I have made some changes to the design of the blog...mainly because the old one was BORING! As you can see, the background is super busy, and the text fonts, sizes, and colors are completely random and busy! I did this because life as a new educator are random and busy! It is a constant scramble to have everything ready, but it usually turns out just fine!

Considering I just started blogging again, I haven't gotten the chance to blog about my first Long Term Substitute position as a 7th grade English Teacher at RMS (no full names, sorry):

I was the full time 7th grade English teacher at RMS while the regular classroom teacher took her maternity leave. I was LUCKY enough to experience the beginning of the year scramble to get everything ready. I was actually hired 4 days before teacher workshops. This was exciting, and nerve-wracking, but everything turned out just fine
At RMS, I met so many amazing teachers! I miss them all already! It is funny how much of a bond is formed, even though I was only there for 10 weeks. The routines, chats, and funny student stories are something that I miss already. I loved my lunch as well! So unrelated to education, which made it an awesome break from the day.
As for the actual classroom, it was a constant struggle because the other 7th grade English teacher was a bit of a basket case. Bless her heart, she does a nice job in the classroom, but I could have used a little more support in coming up with activities, considering I was given pretty much no prep time and no back-up from the teacher I was subbing for.
Overall, it was an awesome experience, I bonded with the students, as always, and learned a lot about being in a classroom on my own. I have to admit, I came up with my lesson plans on the fly most of the time, and I was always behind on my copying. (oops, the copy lady was awesome though)!
RMS was a school with not-so-much technology, which was a giant shift from the school I student taught at. No smartboards, very few computer labs, and a projector that rarely worked with no speakers. I made the best of it, but I can say integrating technology can be very helpful in the classroom! Especially for a random person who likes to show videos, like me! :)

I was observed once and was told they would LOVE to hire me back and told me to keep my eyes open in the district. I have an awesome letter of rec from the assistant principal... such a cool guy! :)

Well that was a giant ramble...

On to my newest experience:

As soon as I finished up at RMS, actually before, I started to apply for new positions. Like the first time I started applying for jobs, I applied EVERYWHERE for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. There were a lot more postings than I thought there would be, which helped me to be very optimistic.

One Tuesday morning, I got a call from a school much closer to home than RMS (which was an hour drive everyday UFFDA! Gas prices suck, btw). They needed a long-term substitute (LTS) for a 5th grade gifted and talented classroom. This job was to be in the same district, city, and grade that I student taught in. I didn't, however, teach in a GT (gifted and talented) classroom. I have 0 experience with GT students. Yes, I had a few here and there, but having a full classroom of them seemed a bit intimidating. The interview was set for Thursday at 9am. I prepared myself as best I could, and went for it.

The next day... I got a call from another school. They wanted to interview me to be a reading intervention teacher at their middle school. This is the complete opposite of GT. This is an opportunity to pull students out of class and help them become better readers. I felt a little more prepared for this interview, seeing as I was a middle school English teacher at RMS with several clusters of very low readers. I did a lot of intervening at RMS, so I felt prepared for this interview. This interview was set for Thursday at 2:30 pm.

YES, 2 interviews in one about overwhelming.

I went to both interviews, both were a blur and I felt like I rambled through them both.

I must be a good rambler because I on Friday afternoon I was offered the position at the Middle School. I accepted immediately, not being very optimistic about the GT classroom because I had no experience. Wednesday of the next week rolled around, and I got offered the position at the elementary school. I was thrilled to be offered both positions, but I obviously turned the elementary position down. The principal at the elementary school completely understood, and congratulated me. I decided to send her a thank-you note, just to keep my name out there. :)

I am very very very excited to start at the Middle School, CWMS, on Monday November 28. I get to spend time preparing and getting my groups ready to pull out of class in the first week and in the second week, I start teaching students! I am totally stoked.

As you can see, this post covered a lot, and was rather random. Much like the background and design of the blog! :)

Thanks for reading and have a Wonderful Wednesday and amazing THANKSGIVING! :)

The Beautiful Winona State University

The Beautiful Winona State University
One of the places I miss the most, WSU. GO WARRIORS!