Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Advice to a Future Fifth Grader... A Letter For My Future Students!

Most years, I have my students write a letter to the incoming 4th graders. As I read the letters, it made me reflect on their viewpoint of our classroom.

Dear Future Fifth Grader…

I’m K_______, I am a fifth grader in Mrs.Mims class. I'm giving you some information for YOU when you come to the 5th grade. Here’s some advice.

1. FOLLOW RULES! If you don’t, you will have a consequence.

2. Try not to get in trouble.

3. Mrs.Mims expects you to act like a 5th grader, not a 2nd grader.

4. DO NOT LIE! Mrs.Mims loves when you are honest. And lying will get you in WAY more trouble.

5. You can hang out with disrespectful kids, it's not my choice, but be the positive influence.
6. Please try to be nice to any students or teachers.

7. Apologies are nice if you’ve done something wrong.

8. Don't be disrespectful.

9. Don't talk, while the teacher is talking.

10. Last but NOT least, try your best when you go to the 5th grade. 

You’re welcome for the help I’ve given you!Sincerely,

Monday, March 25, 2019

Actions Have Consequences: Letting Students Own Their Consequences!

"You're always picking on me."

Maybe you've heard this before.

I have tried, on many occasions, to explain to some of my students that their actions have consequences.

"I am not picking on you. Your consequences are in direct correlation to your actions." Well, I don't use those words exactly, but you understand what I am trying to get them to understand.

It doesn't help when parents stand behind this thinking, and add their voice to the idea that my day is made when I get to "pick on" a child.

Well, after Student-led conferences I felt that maybe the consequences in our room weren't clear. Maybe that was the problem. They understood there would be consequences, but just felt that they were not dealt out fairly. We do have a brief list of Expectations hanging on our wall, however, that doesn't seem to be enough.

So during Morning Meeting, we came up with a Rules and Consequences form, which I have since changed to Actions & Consequences. We sat as a group and worked on the form. I added two actions, but they came up with the rest. ALL the consequences are theirs. ALL.

We did not list positive actions because no one has ever accused me of "picking on" them for positive things. They know the consequences of positive actions, they experience it every day.

I printed the document. You will notice there is a place for the child to sign AND their parent. They are to bring the document back and keep it in their desk, notebook, somewhere where they can access it if needed.

I have a great group of kids, but, this is a lesson I need them to take with them as they follow their path.

Your actions have consequences.

They can be positive or negative, but our actions, young and old alike, have consequences.

Credits: I found the quote above on FB. Applebaum Training Institute

Saturday, February 16, 2019

"You LIKE Reading"? Is Reading for Pleasure Obsolete?

The other day I was teaching an economics lesson on Supply and Demand.
The students had to write a list of 4 things they like to do when they are home.
I modeled the ist with a list of my own, and I started with reading. (Which I really shouldn't have because the lesson was about getting paid to read, so... but that's how much I love to read.)

One of the students stated increduously, "You LIKE to read?"
I replied, "Yes, that is part of how I got here, haviing this job," or something like that.
He said, "That's not what I mean. You just LIKE to read?"
I said, "Do you mean for pleasure?" Yes, I do, and I'm mad that I don't get to do it as much as I would like because of work."
At this point, he just laughed and shook his head.

Many students don't read for pleasure. Many adults don't read for pleasure.
video games
lack of diversity in books
books are not present in the home or classroom
school has sucked the joy of out of reading

So, what should we do to get our kids reading for pleasure?

  1. have diverse books in your classroom
  2. stop killing books with worksheets (What's the Main idea?)
  3. give kids time to just read 
  4. Let students choose their own books 
  5. allow students to read books, not just passages with questions
  6. allow students to read above or below their "level."
  7. participate in projects like the Global Read Aloud
  8. connect with others in the world who are reading the same book.
  9. use tech to let students "talk" about their book
  10. connect with authors
  11. read picture books
  12. allow audiobooks
  13. let them read digitally with Epic and Readworks.

My kids are tested at the end of the school year, so I am not going to tell you that I never use worksheets or teach reading "strategies." But, I have found that the ideas I have listed above have created students that actually enjoy a book, who read for pleasure.

My best moment of our day is whe my kids sprawl out all over the room in video chairs, the Yoga balls, at a desk, or the round table and read. The room is quiet and and the majority of them are actually reading! Sweet!:)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Genre Hunt:Using Books For Authentic Learning Moments!

Sometimes kids just want to do something that is fun. Meanwhile, I want fun and meaningful.
I gave them a @Quizizz pre-test on Genres and they bombed! They had an accuracy of about 42%, which told me that they knew almost nothing about genres.

What to do ? What to do? How do I "teach" genres in a hands-on way where they might actually understand what a genre is?

I know, "A Genre Hunt!"

I have tons and tons of books in my room in every genre, so this would be an easy task.
I created a form that included 3 items, the genre of the book, the title of the book ("Use capitals!"), and the author. (Amazing how many kids don't know where to find the author of the book).

I handed out a Genre Overview sheet and we reviewed it. Then I let them go. (Classroom management is a must with this activity.) They worked in groups of 4. It was a learning experience watching them rush around the room gathering books, picking up our most recent read aloud trying to figure out where it fit, deciding who recorded, and who skimmed the books. Collaboration at it's best!

They really, really enjoyed this activity! When I told them that we had to stop, I ended up giving them more time. As a matter of fact, we had a Part 2 the next day.

I wish I could tell you that when I gave the Genre quiz on Quizizz again, they were at a 100% accuracy. However, they did increase to 50%, so learning about genres will continue to be a work in progress.
If nothing else, I did get them to become familiar with all those books sitting in our classroom. :)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy New Year! Suggestions for a Successful School Year!

Have a Wonderful 2019!

I share these ideas twice a year. At the beginning of the school year, and the beginning of the year. I've made some changes to my list.

Some suggestions for the new year:

  1. treat all students fairly, regardless of race, gender, age, behavior, a parent's nasty attitude, the comments from last year's teachers, or a seemingly lack of interest in learning 
  2. to realize that all children can learn, but not always at the same pace.
  3. stop using sarcasm as a disciplinary tool, no matter how effective it may seem. 
  4. speak in a quiet, even,tone, even when yelling seems to be the only option. (It never is!)
  5. "sticks and stones...but words"... Words can hurt worse than "sticks and stones." Please be careful of the words you use with a child.
  6.  realize that you might be the only good thing that happens in a student's day 
  7. try to meet all deadlines(With all the burdens placed on teachers these days, this one is VERY difficult)
  8. stop gossiping about other teachers, parents, students, administration...! (Difficult at times, I know)
  9. if you don't know, say you don't know (But find out or teach others how to find out)
  10. make mistakes, it's OK. But admit to them and then learn from them.
  11. challenge your students! Challenge yourself!
  12. share with colleagues, we are not in competition with each other. 
  13. use technology as a tool to excite, engage, and empower students. Technology is not a subject!
  14. be involved in fighting what is happening in, and to, the public education system! (Standardized testing, education "reform", merit pay)
  15. be a lifelong learner 
  16. continue to be passionate about the job, it really is about the kids!
  17. realize our preconceived notions and biases impact the way we treat your students.
  18. Building relationships is key!

photo credit: One Way Stock via photopin cc