Sunday, January 22, 2012

New Years Stars, Classroom Pictures, and Martin Luther King!

Hey everyone! What a crazy couple of weeks it has been!

    I kept planning in my head what my next post would be about and when I would write it, but the days are just getting away from me! So sorry to everyone out there who has been wondering where I have been! :) Since my last post, my classroom responsibilities have grown even more. And I love it! (Such a relief after all of the horror stories I have heard about people not finding out they HATE teaching until they are student teaching!! Don't people just always love to share their horror stories with you? I don't know why that is...)
     But anyway, this past week, I completely took over all Math lessons! At the school where I am student teaching, they use Saxon Math so the lessons are basically laid out for me in a script. I still have to read everything and prepare ahead of time so I know what the heck is going on, but it's fairly easy. This past week my  kiddos are learning how to add double digits without regrouping, so we set up a little classroom store (even had the students' parents send in empty boxes of grocery items!) so the students could add item costs together to practice the skill. This lesson stretches over 4 days basically, and Friday I thought it seemed like they are really starting to get it! I was so excited! Helloooooo, they are actually learned something because I taught it to them! Maybe I am cut out for this job :)

     This week was also full of funny kid moments. I had a little girl come up to me and say:

Student: "Miss Jackson, my jaw has been hurting all morning. My dad says I have boulders coming in my mouth."
Me: "Do you mean molars?"
Student: "Yeah, molars!"

     This literally cracked me up! She was just so serious when she said it, and it made me realize that although I am usually focused on their abilities, learning, progress etc, they are still kids. I just love them so much :)
     I have had a lot of feedback on my little phonics rant, and I would like to just let everyone know, I am much more capable of using phonics as a teaching tool now! It was such a foreign language to me at first, but after being completely submerged in the environment for 3 weeks now, I can say it is getting a LOT easier. (Whew!) I know there are several viewpoints on whether phonics should be used to teach students to read or not, and I won't get into that on here. I will say that I believe that if you use a nice balance of phonics and other reading strategies, kids will learn to read. I see it everyday, and it's just so exciting. 

     Moving on to our some amazing classroom happenings! 

The first or second week back from break, we had the students write their own little New Year's Resolutions (sorry I am just now getting these pictures up! I know, I'm bad!) There is a little line strung on the ceiling above the students' desks with miniature clothes pins that my teacher hangs student work. Here are their adorable little resolution stars:

Happy New Year! This year I will try to...

I also have a few pictures of some things around the classroom that some might find interesting!

"You Are Here" posters

     This simple little string and 3 small posters are quite the conversation starter among my 1st graders! It is still hard for the kiddos to *grasp* the concept of planet, continent, country, and state, but this definitely gets them thinking about it. I think this is just such a great way to show the kids how each thing is related to one another. At the end of the day when students are lined up for dismissal, I see many of them pointing and talking about this :)

     This is the cabinet full of inside recess toys. I thought it was a genius idea... each toy in numbered with a corresponding number on a shelf. That way, the toy always gets put back in the right spot and everything is guaranteed to fit!

Writing Binders! Genius idea!

Writing Binders

    This little gem is something I know I will use in my future classroom. My teacher is a very organized lady, and this little cart of binders was the first thing to catch my eye on my first day. Each student is assigned a binder that corresponds to their number. Each time they write anything, they put it in their writing binder. The kids know to put each new piece of writing in the back of the binder behind all of their other work. Then at the end of the year, my teacher pulls out all of their writings and has it bound into an actual book. The book is a great keepsake for the first graders, and also shows how they progressed from the beginning of the year to the end! I also liked the fact that it basically keeps itself organized, and it would be easy to pull during parent/teacher conferences if you wanted to show some examples of student work. Also, another bonus... she reuses the binders every year. Pretty cool, huh?

    As most classrooms do, we have a list of weekly jobs that the student rotate through. Here is our little job area (our classroom is monkey themed! "We're a Great Bunch!") On Friday, one student took it upon themselves to reassign everyone's jobs (I think they just thought the monkeys and barrels looked fun to play with since there's magnets involved and all...) Let me tell ya... my teacher was NOT a happy lady. 

     Last on my list of updates is my own little creation! I was so excited when I found this adorable project for my kiddos on Pinterest. (If you are not on Pinterest, shame shame shame!) It turns out, it was pinned from a blog that I follow religiously! If you haven't checked out The First Grade Parade, you are really missing out! Cara Carroll is so creative and gives so many great ideas! She really gets my gears a going, and I am always anxious to read her new posts. If you're a teacher, you gotta check her out!

     On Friday, my teacher read 2 books to the kiddos about Martin Luther King, Jr. She explained to them what kind of man he was, what he believed in, and that he delivered a very famous speech. They brainstormed as a class about what things they dream would be better. Then, they wrote about it and created their own little Martin Luther King, Jr. heads. I think the lesson was awesome. They really got it

Here are the sweet little creations my kiddos made on Friday:

"I have a dream about everyday I am onehundred times smarter aboat (about) reding (reading)."
...we'll work on that :)
 "I have a dream to help people in need and the pore (poor)."

"I have a dream about the earth being clen (clean)."
 And last but not least!!!....

 "I have a dream to make more  fertilizer."

We couldn't help but laugh when we read this one! God bless rural communities :)
You never know what they're dreaming about, I guess!

     *Whew!* What an update! Kudos to you if you made it this far! Next time, I plan on keeping this updated more regularly, because I have been writing this post for a good hour! :) After this, I plan to wrap up my lesson planning for this week. I am now taking over all Reading lessons in addition to Math. This week in reading, we are learning about a caterpillar (and contractions!)! I am planning a few fun activities for my 1st graders that should be blog worthy so keep checking back! Thanks for reading!



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Week, New Experiences!

Hey everyone!!

     After a very fun and relaxing weekend it is nice to be at school again (did I ever think I would say this back in my elementary days?!?) I found it to be incredibly easy waking up at 6:05 (*Gasp* Yes, some people are awake before the sun!) As my time is adding up at the school, my portion of responsibility is GROWING! This week, I was given control over Math Meeting, where students meet 1st thing in the morning in the back of the classroom to go over money, weather, days of the week, seasons, counting, time, and tallying. It is a great, and very gradual, way for me to begin my teaching experience. Today was the first time I have taught Math Meeting, and I felt it went very well. Once it was over, I definitely felt pleased with how I handled the children (They LOVE to get away with as much as possible! Smarties!) I think I held my head a little higher after this lesson, and thought my portion of the teaching was complete for the day. *Sigh*

Math Meeting Center

     WRONG! My precious, sweet, soft-spoken teacher came up to me before computer time and asked if I would feel comfortable doing 1 minute reading assessments. "Heck yeah!!! Sure!!! I'm on a roll today!!! ", I thought to myself. "Sure, I'd love to." I said in a soft voice. 1 minute reading assessments, what a breeze. I mean really, you time a child reading for  60 seconds, and circle what they get wrong. Piece of cake........... right? Fast forward to me scribbling in red pen, flipping through pages, looking for scores, and glancing over to see if my teacher sees the chaos that is existing in my own little world at that moment. SHE MAKES IT LOOK SO EASY. Yes, timing the students reading for 60 seconds is a breeze, but there is much more to it than that. To make it short, my students learn to read using phonics on a very detailed level. In college, I was taught was to teach students to read without phonics. Do you see the problem I am having? The students know more about phonics than I do! I mean, we are talking about vowel digraphs, consonant digraphs, ghost letter digraphs, diphthongs, trigraphs, combinations, etc. My students are coding words and they are only 6 years old. There are a lot of "sing-song-y" rules that go along with phonics that I am still learning myself, so this makes it a little difficult when I am trying to explain to an eager student why they got a word wrong.... 

     Only one word could describe the feeling I was having at that moment.... frustrated. I have learned the text-book definition of teaching. Lesson plan writing has been drilled into my head for the past 4 years, so much so I could probably do it in my sleep. I've read books and watched countless videos on child psychology. So why is it I'm actually running into a problem here?

Examples of what my students already know.

Oh really?
News to me...

Ok, one I actually know! 
This should come in... handy.

So after an hour or so of deep thought and self reflection I have come up with this: 

1) I am super glad that I am running into this...speed bump we shall call it... during student teaching and not my actual 1st year of being a real teacher.

2) I think that know phonics on this level will benefit me in the long run. If I get a job in the future that requires me to teach phonics, then I have already learned it from the best. If not, then I'll still know it and it won't hurt me one bit.

Soooo, as you can see it isn't all rainbows and butterflies. The days are long, my feet are tired, I sleep very little, and I get frustrated at times. I just want to do well SO BAD

BUT at the end of the day, I wouldn't trade it for anything. :)

Night all!

-Hannah xoxo


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meet Miss Jackson!

First "real" letter to the parents! (I've written ones before as a class assignment from a professor, but this one just felt *different*!)

1st Bulletin Board: "It's Winter!"

Here's a picture of the bulletin board I created, along with my teacher. The kids were able to write what they liked about winter, and then created a snowman picture to go along with it! I thought it turned out great!

1st Day of Student Teaching

My first day of student teaching was January 3rd, but unfortunately I was not able to write a post until today due to that fact I didn't have access to internet for the past few days. It has been a very BUSY the past week, but here are some thoughts on my first day of student teaching:

     The night before my first day, I was having mixed feelings. I couldn't decide if I was more nervous, happy, or excited. I couldn't quit thinking about the fact that life as I knew, classes, serving at the restaurant... was all about to change. Tomorrow was going to be the first day of the rest of my life, one that included teaching, and I was so full of emotion. I had my shower by 8:00 pm so I could watch my favorite TV show, packed my lunch for the next day, laid out all of my clothes, and cleaned until I couldn't find anything else to clean. I kept thinking I was forgetting to do something, but really I think I just had the jitters! I knew I was ready for what was coming, but I was finding it hard to believe that all of the hard work I did to get to this point in my degree was really paying off.   

Let's just say that it wasn't easy falling asleep that night.

     The next morning, I was up by 6:00 am. I am not going to lie... it was not easy for me to wake up that early. The earliest I have had to wake up since my senior year of high school, which was in 2007, was about 7:15 am. Now, 7:15 is the time I am now walking in the front door of the school! I was so glad that I had everything prepared the night before. I was able to slip on my clothes (not the usual morning routine: Try something on, don't like it, throw it on the floor, try something else on, don't like it, throw it on the floor... repeat at least 5 more times! haha) Before I knew it, I was out the door with my purse, lunch, and my bag of student teaching information and supplies. I had never been so ready in my life.

     Once I pulled into the school, I realized I was one of the first people there. I had visited the school before Christmas break, so I already knew where to park and where to go in. As I went in the front door, I said hi to the office secretary and asked if she wanted me to sign in as a visitor. I wanted to make sure I was following all school policies, but she assured me that I am not going to be needing to sign in at the office from then on. I walked into my cooperating teacher's classroom, turned all of the lights on, and began putting my things away in the closet behind her desk. There is something so calm and peaceful about the classroom before anyone else is there. It's so quiet, quite a contrast to what it is like during the day. I had brought my breakfast of vanilla yogurt and an orange and sat down at the back table to relax before all of the little 1st graders would be yelling "Miss Jackson!" every couple of seconds.

My cooperating teacher arrived shortly and gave me a quick rundown of the day. She is always so great about stopping whatever it is she is doing to explain something to me, which happens often! Once the kiddos arrived, I was excited to begin the day. It all went smoothly, but this girl (me!) was very happy once lunch arrived. Our lunch lasts from 10:50-11:50 , so it's definitely a nice little midday break. All of the teachers that have lunch at the same time as us are very friendly to me and asked me how my first day was going so far.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted.... to say the least. What a long day! I left the school at about 4:30. Although I was completely worn out, I was very excited to go back and do it all again the next day.

- Hannah