Texas Teaching Fanatic

A look inside a 4th grade classroom

Peek At My Week

Last week was an awesome week!  If you’ve been following along, you know that my students just really learned a lot last week.  Those light bulbs were going off and my students were actually THINKING!  Ya gotta love that! 🙂

Peek at My Week

My week this coming week is going to be another great week!  Here’s what we have on the agenda:

In Writing:  Monday we will write letters to veterans, thanking them for their service and time spent away from friends and family.  After that, it’s back to the grind with a new expository piece.  We are writing about our most prized possessions this time around.  We have already planned it out and written our kernel essays, so the next steps are putting it into a flipbook, choosing icons, and then drafting our piece.  Oh, and at the end of the week we will be discussing schesis onomaton (a big fancy word for renaming).  Come back to see some final copies!  (I’ll be posting some expository pieces from our first attempt pretty soon)

In Math: This week is a time to put our skills to the test with related data sets (aka: tables).  Since we have our first district benchmark next week, the end of this week will succumb to review of all that the students have learned this year, with a focus on multiplication and division with word problems.  Another week requiring loads of thinking!

In Social Studies: We will be discussing the impacts of Stephen F. Austin and Martin DeLeon on the settlement of Texas.

It’s another jam-packed week, and I’m praying that we have time to squish it all in!  I’m excited for what this week has in store for us!

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Lightbulb Moments

Today was one of those days where everything went right.  I don’t have many of them, but today was exceptional.  I love those days!

In writing, we once again used Gretchen Bernabei’s resources to look at a mentor text, and light bulbs started going off across my room.  The students were really connecting to the text and noticing many patterns and the craft of the writer.  Brilliant!  I plan on devoting a post to this activity soon to share what we did and how incredibly powerful it was…so stay tuned!

photo 1(24)In math, I ran only small groups today.  Since there isphoto 4(14) one of me and about four groups that need different skills, I chose to have students run the other groups.  Wow!  They did an amazing job!  While I worked with students on subtraction, other students led the rest of the small groups and shared their knowledge of the skill that the others needed.  This not only allowed me some time to work with the students who really needed my help, but it also extended the knowledge of my student helpers.   Most importantly: ALL students were learning at an appropriate level.

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What’s that saying?  Students learn better from their peers than they do from adults?  I definitely think that’s true…most of the time, anyway.  Today was a fine example of that.

I’m so glad that I am surrounded by such awesome students.  Do they drive me nuts some days?  Of course.  But I love each and every one of them for who they are.  Their willingness to learn and the smiles on their faces are what I look forward to every day.  They are the reason I do what I do.

Today was awesome.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!  🙂

 

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Student Writing Samples & More…Coming Soon!

Just a quick post to let you all know that I am working on getting some student writing samples posted. I’m hoping to get this done over the weekend. My students have now published their first Expository writing pieces, and they had already published 2 Narratives from our first several weeks of school.

My husband and I just bought our first home and finally moved in last Wednesday, so it has been extremely hectic around here, to say the least!

I WILL get back to blogging more regularly and fulfill some promises I’ve made about posting some new anchor charts, student writing, steps we took to get to where we are now, and even some new pics of my classroom–now that my walls aren’t bare anymore!

Thanks to all of you who are followers and to those of you visiting every now and then. Come back again soon!! 😉

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Multiplication with Manipulatives (and a life lesson)

About three weeks ago, my students began multiplication in math. I always enjoy watching as students use manipulatives to show their answers. What I love about math is that there are numerous ways to think of numbers and solve problems, but in the end we all get the same answer…most of the time, anyway! 😉

I took some pictures just to show how differently my students think. Some are very organized, while others are not. Some think in arrays, while some think in groups. I embrace that diversity!!

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I guess I like it so much because of an experience I had in college. On one of my tests, we were asked to draw a parallelogram. Well, I drew a square…and the teacher counted it wrong. As I sat and pondered my incorrect answer, I was unable to figure out why it was wrong. After class I approached my professor and asked the question. Her reply: “Because that’s not the way I taught it, and most people don’t know that a square is a parallelogram. I expected you to draw a rectangle.”

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I’m a fighter. I just couldn’t accept that answer. A few minutes later, I had to walk away with a 92. She wouldn’t budge!

Even though I could live with my 92 (because after all, an A is an A, right?), I will never forget that conversation and my teacher’s neglect to see that we are all individuals with our own unique knowledge. I was right, but because she didn’t expect that right answer, it was wrong.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would never be that way. Diversity–bring it on! 🙂

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I’m tired…”zombie” tired!

There’s nothing quite like beginning-of-the-school-year tired. I know this will get better, but right now I’m pooped!

Celebrations: We had our first PLC (Professional Learning Community) meeting today. We talked about what our school is like currently–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and talked about what we want our school to look like. It is always good to get those feelings out on the table and collaborate about what we can so to make positive chances. think this is going to be a great year!

My kiddos are learning. That’s always good! We are working hard, asking questions, participating in discussions, and becoming more independent. So far, I’ve been impressed with how much my students are willing to take risks and so things out of their comfort zones. LOVE that! 😉

Too tired to post much more. My next post (hopefully tomorrow) will be dedicated to setting goals and expectations with students. I was slapped in the face this week by how much teacher expectations play into student performance… Stay tuned!!

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First Day of School 2013

Whew! It’s over! And everyone for home to the right place. That is enough to call it success, right?

I’m extremely tired and ready for bed, but I thought I would drop in to say that the first day back with kids was really good. I only had to move one student from his original seat (I let them choose the first day–I’m crazy, I know) due to excessive talking. Both of my classes almost got finished with our Social Contracts. All that is left is signing our names and adding borders to make it final.

Most importantly, these students were very respectful and listened as I stated my goals for us this year. I told them that I don’t expect them to LOVE various subjects, but I want them to have the confidence and willpower to try new things and all challenges I put forth.

I told them that it is ok to not know, but it is not ok to not try. I also made it a point to explain that it is ok to make mistakes–EVERYONE makes mistakes (“…except Jesus!”–from a few kids), but it’s what we learn from our mistakes that makes us stronger.

Hopefully they take the message to heart because I meant every word of it.

As I said yesterday, this is going to be a great year! I have lots of sweet kiddos, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing with them.

That’s all for now. Going to bed. Need to be ready for another day tomorrow. Until next time…

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Kids Tomorrow!

Eek! The kids come back to school tomorrow! Summer is officially over. *sigh*

This will be a great year. Tomorrow marks my sixth seventh first day back! I can’t believe it. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun!! 😉

My goals for this year:
1. Be organized every day! Take the time to clean up, put away, and sort things in an organized way.
2. Remain patient. I usually do a great job at this, but there’s always room for improvement.
3. Stay positive. I get in ruts sometimes where it feels like the world is caving in. You know, after the kids bomb that test you just knew they would ace or administrators tell you that you aren’t working miracles need to do more. It’s hard not to hang my head, but it always works out in the end.
4. Listen more. I like to talk. I come by it honestly. (Sorry, Mom, but it’s true!) I want to make an effort to shut up and listen to others.
5. Enjoy it. I haven’t had trouble with this–well, other than having to leave my newborn to go back to work–but I want to continue to enjoy my job, have fun with my students, and soak up their innocence and love for life. I don’t want to become one of those sour old teachers who despise every second on the job. (You have one of those in your head right now, don’t you?! We all know at least one!)

Tomorrow I put these goals into action and begin a new journey with new kids. And it will be great. 🙂

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Back To School I Go

Tomorrow I go back to work after a nice summer break. I always wish I had “just ONE more week,” but I’m also sort of secretly excited. The beginning of the year is always full of anxiety, hope, excitement, nervousness, panic…did I miss any? 😉

I’m almost ready for my classroom reveal. This week is only for teachers, and we have some time to finish up our rooms before “Back to School Night,” so I spent my last few days of summer away from my classroom.

I will be posting pictures soon. Hint: I’ve incorporated my black, blue, and zebra “theme.” I’m not really a theme person, so I decided to stay simple. 😉

For all of you that go back to work tomorrow, may the force be with you!! And for those that are already teaching your hearts out, we are right behind ya! 🙂

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10 Fun Things About Me!

Today I’m linking up with Blog Hoppin’ for a fun linky party–10 Fun Things About Me!

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1. I’ve just recently found my new addiction: blog hopping!  I think it’s fun to peek in on other teachers and “steal” ideas to make my own.  There are SO MANY great blogs out there, and I know I haven’t found them all yet.  That’s what is so fun about it.  Every day I find new information and new teachers to follow.

2. I teach in Texas in a town just south of Austin.  I absolutely love what I do.  When I was first hired, I was actually scared of 4th graders!  Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone!  After just a few minutes around them, I knew that my fears were unrealistic.  They are still sweet, love their teacher, and they don’t stink too badly!  😉20130807-194258.jpg

3. I have a wonderful husband and a son that just turned 2 last week.  This “terrible two’s” thing might just kill me!  Where, oh where do they get so much energy?  I’m young and all, but WOW!  I have to take a break every now and then to survive.  LOL  I had to share a picture of my little man so that you can see my inspiration for everything I do.  😉

4. We have one dog.  A mutt named Jimi.  He is an old dog, but still demands his attention when he is feeling neglected!

5. My favorite band is The Dave Matthews Band.  I’ve been to several of their concerts and enjoy listening to them in the car and even in my classroom.  Too bad I wasn’t the one who saw him stranded on his bicycle on the way to his show and gave him a lift!  Did you read about that?  He’s so awesome!

6. Purple is my favorite color….for now, anyway.  It changes from time to time.  Anyone else that way?  I’m decorating my room in blue, and I’ve picked up quite a few new blue pieces that are hanging in my closet, but I still love purple!

7. My favorite TV shows are Suits, Mike & Molly, Two Broke Girls, and The Big Bang Theory.  Out of those, BBT is my overall favorite!!!  I could go on and on about that show, but I’ll save that for another time!

8. I enjoy DIY projects.  I may have quite a few coming up in my near future…

9. I’m learning more and more about technology every day.  Blogging has forced me to learn about even those little things that make a big difference.  Also seeing so many neat ideas from other teachers about how to use and implement technology into the classroom is encouraging me to go full force this year!

10. I am also a FREE health coach to those seeking to lose weight or embark upon a healthy lifestyle.  I won’t go on a rant about that, but I’m here for you, too!

Well, that’s it from me.  I’m heading over to Blog Hoppin’ now to read up on others!!  Ta ta for now!

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Happy Birthday to My Main Man!

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Today we celebrated my son’s 2nd birthday at the pool. He had so much fun splashing in the water.

No, this isn’t a teacher related post, but I had to share this precious moment! 😉

What did you do to beat the heat today?

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