Friday, February 22, 2013

"I Apologize" An Open Letter to My Students!

Dear Kids,
I am sorry.
I am sorry that, yet again, I am placing another test (or assessment if you like using big words) on your desk. I  am sorry that I am, again, forcing you to take another test.
Yes, I know this is the 3rd test in a week, but you don't understand.
In order to meet your needs, I have to collect data. Lots and lots of data. So much data in fact that I will never be able to look at it, especially since I have 25 of you sitting in my room.
But I have to do it.
I know, you are tired of exit tickets, formative assessments, entrance tickets, common district assessments, the weekly tests, but it all helps me understand what you don't know.
When I understand what you don't know, I can help you learn it.
I apologize that I move quickly from one thing to another, and it's hard for you to keep up, and that's why some of you have a hard time passing the test. But you have to understand that I have to follow a pacing guide. It tells me what to teach and when to teach it. If I don't follow it,  I will be in big trouble!
And most of all, I apologize for the standardized tests. The big STATE test.
I am sorry that during Read Across America week when we should participate in fun, educational, reading activities, you will be headfirst in the Math standardized test.
I am sorry your Recess has been cut to 15 minutes. You know it's for your own sake. It gives you more time to learn so that you can pass the state test, and I can get a good evaluation from my principal, my principal can look good, the district looks good, the state looks good, and the federal government will shine its light upon us. Passing the state test shows everyone how smart you are!
I am truly sorry for what education has become.
Forgive me,
Your teacher

photo credit: Dave Keeshan via photopin cc

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaching in My Sleep!

Snoring Sleeping Zz Smiley Clip Art

Last night, while I was sleeping, I developed a Fractions Math Review lesson using Socrative's Space Race. I am serious, while I was sleeping!
I am at the end of the unit in fractions and I wanted to create a review that would be fun and productive. But, never in my wildest dreams, pun intended, did I intend to create it while sleeping!  I woke up from the "dream", and figured I would fall back into a deep sleep, with teaching off my mind, at least until the sun rose.
But, alas, the lesson reentered my dream, disturbing my much sought-after slumber.
I don't know about you, but when I have an observation coming up, my dreams are filled with lesson planning for weeks. It's also filled with any number of things that can go wrong, turning my dream into a nightmare.
And, let's not forget the first few days of school. Instead of sheep, I'm counting "beginning of the school year" activities.
I realize that I am passionate about teaching, but this is ridiculous!
Hopefully,  after I get the Math Review done, my teacher brain will shut down, and I can dream of normal things, like, never mind. :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fairy Tale Jeopardy! JeopardyLabs:This is Not Powerpoint!

When I created my Fairytale Jeopardy, I used a PowerPoint template. (And, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that).  The hard part for me was keeping score. The kids and I would get all mixed up. It was a hot mess! :)

Then I discovered JeopardyLabs. Love it. The game is online so it can be played wherever, or on whatever,you use to access the Internet. It keeps score with a click and the setup couldn't be simpler. You can choose up to 12 teams to play. You can share it via social media, email, the link, or download.

You can choose to get the free one, or you can pay $20 for a lifetime, yes I said lifetime membership! With the $20 lifetime membership you get a fancy template manager, privacy control, delete control, and a public list of all your templates. If you have the free one, anyone can view it.Also,you have to remember the password you used when you created it.

There are thousands of ways an educator could use this site!

While you're there, also check out Testmoz, Crossword Labs, WordsearchLabs, Bingo Baker, and Scuttle Words.(This is an app).

Fairy Tale Jeopardy is a fun activity, especially with NEA's Read Across America, only weeks away! Celebrate March 1, 2013!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

If You're Happy and You Know It...! Happy Students = Happy Teachers!

Clap your hands!

About a week ago, I was feeling pretty frustrated with this whole teaching thing. I was worrying whether or not the way I was feeling physically, had to do with the stress of my job.

And then I received an email that put a huge smile on my face. Now, keep in mind, the thing that put a huge smile on my face is not something that everyone would get excited and happy about. Understand too, that I am VERY passionate about edtech!

The email stated that the district would begin implementing  BYOD in April, and was I interested in being one of the teachers who pilot it? I would get a chrome notebook, Apple TV etc..., the rest was a blur. I  had a grin on my face for the rest of the day. I was happy! :-) Yeah, I'm easy.

It made me think, what makes my students happy? I know they have no choice,  they have to be there. But the year we spend together is so much more enjoyable when they're happy to be there. And no, every day is not going to be idyllic, but if a larger percent of it is, my job is so much easier.

And I mean, productive happy. You know, and I know, some of our students would be happy doing absolutely nothing all day. Or happy socializing. Or texting. And I definitely don't mean "running all over the teacher, do whatever I want" happy either.

What are some things that make my students happy? 

  • Morning Meeting sharing
  • Brainpop jokes and Wonderopolis videos
  • time on the computer
  • Creating: videos, comic strips, animations,etc...
  • blogging
  • Mystery Skypes
  • lunch with the teacher 
  • my laughter
  • figuring out, and then getting,  the right answer
  • Dojo points
  • pen pal letters
  • tweeting
  • Read Aloud
  • connecting on Edmodo
 Find out what makes your class happy. A happy class, a happy teacher!The great thing about this list is that none of these things cost a cent! They allow my class and I to be happy, know it, and clap our hands!

photo credit: katerha via photopin cc