Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Time To Celebrate!

Here I am at the end of my master's journey.  I can't believe it is the end. 
It wasn't easy but if it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. 
I worked harder than I have ever worked before. 
I learned more than I ever imagined I would. 
I made new friendships for life.
I laughed...a lot.
I cried.
I found strength I didn't know I had.
I learned how to believe in myself.
I learned the importance of having a strong community to lean on.
I became a leader.
I did what I thought I could never do...I earned my master's degree!
What does this mean to me?  It opens the door for me to be a leader amongst my peers.  I have often said, "If I can do this, I can do anything!"  I truly believe I have become a better person, teacher, and friend because of this program.  Congratulations to all who are graduating in a couple weeks!  You have earned it!  It is time to celebrate and be proud of all you have accomplished!  This is not the end but only the beginning of a new chapter!  Good luck and best wishes!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Time Has Come...

Spring conference is just a few short days away.  On Sunday I will be presenting to 14 fellow educators who are coming to hear me speak about my experience with math journals.  I have read their comments and responded.  I have emailed them and have to put together a presentation that I hope will keep them engaged and intrigued about the idea of implementing math journals.  Am I nervous?  Yes.  Am I excited?  Yes.  The time has come for me to reflect on all that I have learned during this program.   I am proud of all that I have accomplished.  The time has come for me to shine my light and do the best I can! 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Learning Through Play

This week my kindergartners performed surgery.  Yes, surgery.  Vowel surgery!  We turned our classroom into a hospital and learned all about what doctors do.  Oh what fun we had! Not only did they practice making cvc words, they role played and imagined what it would be like to be a doctor.  Now my students are playing hospital at playtime with the dolls.  They are building vocabulary and exploring through play.  Although preparing for an activity like this takes time and effort, the benefits are worth it.  The idea came from the blog Kickin' It In Kindergarten.  We may not have done all that she did in her classroom on surgery day, but I think it still turned out pretty good and the kids had a blast!!  Take a look!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

One Month

One Month from today I will be attending my last master's class.  I can hardly believe it!  A year ago I was preparing to attend the spring conference not knowing what was in store for me for the next year.  I remember thinking about how hard the presenters must have worked to get ready for the conference and I was nervous thinking about all that was yet to come.  Summer came and I tried to "eat the frog" by working most mornings on my research and backward design units.  I am not going to lie, there was a lot of work, BIG work.  That was the hardest summer of my life.  Then the new school year started and I was ready to go with many master's assignments/plans to implement.  Again, I was unsure as to how I was going to be able to get it all done but I kept on going and you know what?  I did it and I was successful!

Here I am, just a couple weeks away from spring conference.  Again, that nervous feeling has come over me.  My folders are stuffed, my presentation outline is done (I think) until I go over it again and make more changes.  My session is full with 14 fellow educators all coming to hear me talk about math journals.  I am the expert for that hour.  I sure hope I can keep my attendees engaged and give them information to take back to their classrooms.  I hope they find my session valuable and worthwhile.  I still have a couple weeks to put the finishing touches on a project I have worked so hard on and at times, never thought I would get through it.  But, here I am, getting close to the end of a remarkable journey...just one month to go!

When is the end of your master's journey? How are you preparing for spring conference?  I am excited to visit with and learn from my fellow Saint Mary's master's students.  We have all worked so hard to get to this point!  Congratulations!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Collaboration - Leadership Goals


Today we had our monthly collaboration meeting. Our meeting time is from 2:00-3:30 one Wednesday a month.  This involves our principal, kindergarten team, our title teachers, interventionists and special-ed teachers.  During this time, we have the opportunity to discuss our intervention groups and students needs along with celebrations.  We also have the chance to collaborate and discuss grade level topics and events/activities.  It is during this meeting time that I have had a chance to practice my leadership goal.  My goal was to be able to speak up at large group meetings about my thoughts or ideas.  This is my 3rd year teaching in Pelican and I am finally starting to feel comfortable speaking up.  At times, it is not easy, especially with a new principal who, at times, can be intimidating and not always easy to "read."  Nevertheless, I still try to speak up because I know it will help me grow as a professional.  I have also grown in my leadership role in my grade level as I am the "planner" for my group.  I am the one who makes the lists and keeps us thinking of our long range goals and plans.  They count on me to have a plan and the know-how to execute the plan.  To be a leader, one must be open to ideas of others and yet be confident to make decisions based on the good of the group.  I will continue to work on my leadership skills and goals even when I am done with my master's program.  To grow as a professional, I must continue to learn from others and build on the skills I already have. 

What goals do you have that you will continue after the completion of your master's degree?
What are your challenges in continuing those goals?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"How-To" Books

For my last backward design unit, I am teaching "how-to" books to my kindergartners.  I have had 10+ years of teaching writing workshop to kindergartners, but this is the first year I have taught a "how-to" unit.  I was excited to start this unit because my class was so ready for it!  I have a class of writers this year who actually cheer when it is time for writer's workshop!  I knew they would be excited for another new type of writing!

I started my unit a week and a half ago.  Although I planned for this unit to take 2 weeks, it is going to take longer because of so many other activities going on in our school last week with "Read Across America" week.  To start off my unit, I pretended I was an alien and I wanted to know how to make a peanut butter sandwich. My students had to give me step-by-step directions and whatever they said, I did!  They learned quickly how specific they had to be.  When they said open the bread, I started ripping the bag and using my teeth!  That was the hook I needed to get them going!  They were rolling with laughter but so engaged and eager to teach me.  It was great how they all contributed to the conversation and added to each other's ideas and comments.  To continue the unit, we then spent 3 days writing a "How-To Make a Peanut Butter Sandwich" book as a class.  Each student had their own book, but we came up with the ideas for each page and then wrote them together.  I also guided them in their drawings to ensure that they had an understanding that their pictures also needed to teach the reader how to make the sandwich.  We focused on labeling and using arrows in our drawings. 

Today my students started writing their own "how-to" books.  We have had many conversations as a whole group and with partners about different "how-to" topics and they had a chance to teach each other about something they are an "expert" at.  Most of my class jumped right into the writing process and knew exactly what they were going to write about.  I did have a handful that were "stuck."  Most of my students that needed support in coming up with a topic and the sequence were my ELL students.  I know these students are going to need extra support and the vocabulary to help them with their books.  It has been a learning process so far for me and for my students.  I am very excited with their books so far and can't wait to see their final products. I am definitely glad I chose this topic as my final BD unit.     When we are finished, we are going to read them to another kindergarten class and I am planning on having an author's party to celebrate all the great writing we have been doing this year! 

Here is a great book that I read when I introduced the unit.  It is sure to make you smile!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Read Across America Week

 This week my school is celebrating "Read Across America Week."  In kindergarten that means a week full of Seussical fun!  Each day this week there are fun activities planned for the entire school.  Because we have a large building with grades K-6, it can be hard to find activities that all can participate in.  At times, I feel like our school is lacking a sense of community but this week's activities are great for school-wide community building. 
We started the week with a school wide party with cake and a visit from The Cat in The Hat to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday.  Wednesday was school wide buddy reading day.  Classes were matched up to read with each other.  How great is it to have 6th graders reading to 2nd graders, or kindergartners reading with 1st graders?  The kids were buzzing and some classes have already set up another buddy reading day for the future.  Thursday will be Drop Everything And Read (DEAR) day along with guest readers.  Our principal will randomly announce DEAR throughout the day and he has lined up community leaders and basketball players to guest read to all the classes.  Friday will be Read and Feed day!  Each grade has a special time set to go to the cafeteria or gym to read in their p.j.'s and have popcorn. 
What a great week to celebrate reading!  As teachers we all know that crazy weeks mean crazy kids and crazy schedules but activities like these help add a little fun and school wide community building especially when we are still freezing and stuck in those winter blues!