Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We have a Winner!!! My $75 Wise Decor Gift Certificate Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Congrats to Sidney from Teaching is a Gift. Sidney wins a $75 gift certificate to Wise Decor Custom Wall Lettering! Woo Hoo! Start shopping and I would love to know what you get with your gift certificate!  Thank you to all who entered. Check back on my blog this afternoon for some exciting news about a collaborative project I am doing with Pinterest!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Are you following me on Bloglovin?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I just came across this a few months ago and have nly played with it a little. I have started following my bloggy friends as well as anyone who leaves me a comment here on my blog. I d have a question...I used the "Google" join feature up to this point. Are most of you deleting the widget off your blogs or keeping it? Just curious! Anyway..please follow me on Bloglovin and I will follow you back.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mentoring a New Teacher

On Tuesday I will attend a breakfast for the new teachers and staff joining our school this year. I will be assigned to mentor a new teacher. This will be my second year and I certainly hope I do a a better job of it than I did last year!! Don;t get me wrong, my mentee last year survived, despite having me as a mentor. You see it was my first year as a mentor, and despite having attended a 3 day PD required by our state, I was flying a little blind. I wanted to support this new teacher (who, by the way, had about 10 more years of teaching experience than I did --more on that later) and assure them that despite being overwhelm, it did get better. But there were days when I was so overwhelmed that I was useless to her.
First obstacle- We were on different grade levels but on the same hall. I have taught 4th grade for 4 years and this new (to our district) teacher was in 4th, while I was teaching 5th. Yes, I knew the curriculum, but so did her team mates so they were better suited to hep her in that area. I tried to handle the nuances of dealing with our student population (and their parents), navigating paperwork, what to do when technology fails, etc. I think I handled that pretty well. It was a challenge to try and do observations because we were on different schedules but we made it work.
Second obstacle- this teacher had been teaching longer than me...she could have mentored me! However, our district requires that all teachers new to our district must have a mentor.

We both survived the school year but I knew when my principal asked me to mentor a new teacher again this year, I needed to make some changes. I came across this infographic on Twitter.
Here is what I am going to do differently this year-
1. Sit down the first day we are back at school (just teachers--no students) and give her a chance to tell me what she needs help with (preparing a classroom for the first day of school is more than putting up bulletin boards and making name tags). I will talk to her about spending the supply money we get wisely and give her tips on how to make it last.
2. Help her prepare for Meet the Teacher (room, letters, forms, etc). Sit down the next morning to talk about how it went.
3. Schedule out a weekly meeting (15-30 minutes) to talk about how things are going and see what support she needs. In addition, of course she can come to me whenever she needs.
4. Make plans to visit her classroom this first day (if not the first week). Sit down afterwards and listen to her tell me how the day went, and give her suggestions for some areas that may need addressing.
5. Find ways to support her and encourage her (notes, small gifts, pat on the back).
6. Encourage her to get involved with committees, PTA, etc. as the year goes on. In the beginning, let her focus on herself and her class.
7.Sit in on her first parent-teacher conference/parent meeting. Maybe even do a mock-conference before hand.

I am genuinely hoping to make a difference with this teacher this year. I remember my mentor when I first began teaching and she was supportive, and encouraging and kept me sane that first year. And while I feel like I was helpful tt he teacher I mentored last year,  think  would prefer getting a brand new teacher this year. I think I can help her so much more.

 If you are not following @Edudemic you need to! Lots of great info here and I stated making a list of ways I could support this new teacher! I am very excited about meeting her on Tuesday and I promise to post periodically about how things are going and share new ideas of what is working with us. Heck, I may even convince her to guest blog with me so you all can get if from the new teacher perspective. In the mean time, head over to Edudemic's website and check out this infographic and the accompanying article!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Giveaway Time: $75 Gift Certificate to WiseDecor.. a great site for custom wall words for decorating your classroom!

If you are like me, you are scratching your head wondering how you are going to turn the blank canvas that is your classroom into a masterpiece. 

Well today is your lucky day!! I have the privilege of offering up a $75 gift certificate for WiseDecor.Classroom Wall Decals

Head over to their website and check out the great wall decal options they have for your classroom walls. I have picked out several that I really like and I will be selecting one and reviewing it on this blog later this month. 

Click on the link below to begin completing the option to be entered into this giveaway.  I look forward to reading all your comments about what you would select if you win the gift certificate.

The contest ends at midnight on Wednesday August 14, 2013. Don;t forget to tell your friends an fellow bloggers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"I am SO doing this in my classroom this school year!!!"

Do you ever feel like trying every new idea, tool or program you come across? I do! My inner voice should "I am SO doing this, this school year" whenever I come across an idea on Pinterest, or in a workshop r on Twitter.  We all know, the reality is, we come across tons of ideas and we can't possibly implement them all. I am a little GUILTY of starting stuff and then dropping it mid-way through the year. Sometimes that is a good thing, especially when my lack of enthusiasm is evident or if I get to overwhelmed with the day to day stuff. Last year I was so good about doing my daily vocabulary/word of the day and also about blogging with my students.  It helped that I had looked up from 4th to 5th with my same students so I knew them pretty well, especially what they could ad couldn't handle. So here are a few of the new things I am definitely doing in my classroom this year---

1. Class Dojo. I tested this out a few years ago and loved it. But I tried to implement it midway through the year and soon realized you have to get buy-in from the kids from the very beginning. I saw several teachers present on this at workshops this summer and it really got me pumped about using it. It is a computer based behavior management program. The kids love the cute avatars and they love listening for the "ding" when someone gets a point. I will display it on my Promethean boar throughout the day (but not all the time) but will keep the volume up so I can add/subtract points throughout the day as students work. I am using data notebooks this year (see #2 below) so I am going to have students chart their points for a monthly reward.

2. Student Data Notebooks. Let's face it. We live in a data driven world and we teach in a setting riddled with data. Yes, it is difficult to wade through it all to analyze it. But sometimes it is just what is needed to help you develop a solution to a problem to identify a problem you didn't really know was there. I am not a fan of putting more work on my own plate so the use of student data notebooks will put most of the responsibility on the students. It will hold them accountable for behavior and achievement. I am going to start small..charting only 5 things: behavior (using data from Class Dojo), Reading and Math common assessment scores, and vocabulary scores (I am going to try out Flocabulary- see #3 below).  I think this is a good start.

3. Weekly Vocabulary instruction using Flocabulary. My students know the words to every song on the radio but they have difficulty remembering much of what I teach them. We take MAP (Measures of Academic Performance) tests 3 times a year and the students in our school are always weak in vocabulary. Last year I did a word of the day with definition,  picture, context sentence and part of speech. My kids did okay with it, and it was a bit of a chore to keep up with. A colleague used Flocabulary for some of the reading skill we taught lat year and I tried it out at her suggestion. I got a 14 day free trial and I was hooked and so were my students. Argument settled...using Flocabulary for vocabulary instruction this year. There are activities (which I will use for homework practice) and a test you can give with an answer key. It is a great program!

4. Edmodo. Again, I started using it with my students late in the year last year. However, after attending some training this summer, I am ready to go full steam ahead. I love that I can post questions, quizzes, polls, etc. and even share documents. For the students who have computers at home, they love to get on after-school and leave messages for each other or for me.

Well, I think that is about all I can handle to implement this year...although I will continue blogging with my students, I was hoping to have them set up their own blogs but I think I am going to try a hybrid approach with Edmodo and see how it goes.  We are in a bridge year with common core on our grade level, we are in year 4 of Fountas and Pinnell and year 3 of Empowering Writers....I am so going to have my hands full.

I promise to blog periodically throughout the year and let you all know how this goes.

I would love for you to comment below and share the new things you are planning implementing in your classroom this year!!