This Year Has Flown By!!

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Where did the time go? At this time last year I was still ferociously searching for a teaching job and now I have just completed one of the best years of my career as an educator. I work at an extremely supportive school and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it is.

This year was not without its stresses and craziness. For the first time in two years I was able to teach science and truly fall in love with that content all over again. It was a challenge getting back into that mindset. Another challenge was having two classrooms, teaching two grade levels on two different halls. Through all the bumps, twists and turns I made it through.

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I taught 8th Grade Physical Science during the afternoon and I had planning with the eighth grade team. They are a spectacular group of people. I was able to experience a field trip with them to Calloway Plantation and The Kettle Creek Battlegrounds. I was also able to experience an OCMS tradition – the 8th grade lock-in. Yes, I stayed up ALL NIGHT with a group of 8th graders. I had more fun than I thought I would despite being very tired for a few days afterward.

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My year would not have been complete without my precious 6th graders. I truly adore sixth grade. They are still new to the middle school and are working hard to figure out what it means to be a middle school student. In the sixth grade I taught ELA. We completed many activitites, but my favorite was an oldie – the body biography project. We created character projects for the novel The Cay by Theodore Taylor. As our end of the year project, students wrote scripts for Asian Stories, created puppets and performed puppet shows. Both projects were lots of fun and thought provoking for my students!

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What a wonderful year! I cannot wait for next year after a much needed summer break 🙂

 

 

Deja Vu

I am currently teaching night school at my old high school. I teach all of the HS Science classes there, and yes it can be a bit overwhelming. However, being in my old high school is surreal. Since I have graduated high school (over 10 years ago – yikes), they have built a new building and now rent out the old building. That being said I now teach in the very place that I was in all those years ago. Each night I pass my old locker and can’t help but think about all the people who walked those halls with me.

I had an awesome experience in high school. Those were the days when the CRCT was in its infancy and high stakes tests were just beginning to be the popular thing. I don’t remember taking a lot of tests in school and I guess that is a blessing. I want my students to have the same great experiences I had, but sometimes I worry that all they are going to remember is the test they took. I know I am probably not alone in this – it is just a fact that has been wearing on me for a few weeks now.

Okay, Okay enough with my walk down memory lane and my soap box. I have some good news to add. TpT is having a sale starting on January 20th and ending on the 21st. My entire store will be on sale along with several of my favorite teacher authors. I have even added a new product in the mix!! Happy Shopping!! 🙂

Chun Jie Kuai Le!

I was so excited to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my students this past week. Of course Chinese New Year doesn’t start until February 8th this year, but being in the states we talked about it a bit early.

My PLC started a “Camp Fire” program every two weeks. It is an opportunity for us to meet our listening and speaking standards in a fun way. Students can audition and share journals, create skits or do book talks all on this day. We have themes for each Camp Fire that are focused around our unit plans. The students love it and don’t even realize we are actually learning during the camp fire. Other than student share time we also review standards and have teacher lead activities and stories. My counter-part came up with the name CAMP SHINE (Stories Here Igniting Neighborly Exchanges). It has definitely become a highlight for each unit even though it is A LOT of work!

So, our first Camp Shine of the new year was focused on Chun Jie or Chinese New Year. I got to share with the students some of the customs that come from Chinese New Year. I mean did you know it is tradition to wear red underwear for good luck during your animal year? We played games like catch the dragon tail and an honor balance game I learned while in China. Before the students came in I decorated the room with red banners. I set up my kid chinese dishes (and during the camp fire challenged students to the chop stick challenge!).

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Here is the ppt that I used for our camp fire:

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I made handouts for the students and taught them a Chinese song. The song is on the ppt. The handout came from Scholastic if you search Chinese New Year on their site.

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I think that the camp fire really resonated with several students. I received various drawings from students and even some traditional ramen noodles straight from China! It is moments like this that I live for as an educator!! 🙂

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If you are interested in other resources regarding Chinese New Year – I have the following product available on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and did I mention it was FREE!!

Chinese New Year Activities Pack

 

First Semester Down…

Wow! An entire semester has come and gone. I am in awe of all that has happened in my life since I moved back to Georgia. Over the past few months I started two new jobs at two different schools, lost 23 lbs, got a new puppy (Toby), traveled to my first ever edcuators conference, started planning in a PLC not alone, and celebrated the holidays without the need to travel. It has flown by, but the old addage says time flies when you are having fun!

I absolutely adore my new school OCMS! We use PLC’s to plan and really guide the school. It has made my life as a teacher more stress-free than ever before. I love how we are a family at my school and each person truly uplifts the others. I honestly didn’t know what it was like to work in a high-functioning school until now. My time in China and in Mississippi made me grow as an educator in many different ways. I learned how to plan engaging lessons in China and then how to manage a classroom and hone those skills in Mississippi. Here I am learning yet again how to work with the adults in my building, and I am having a blast. The thing that I love about teaching is the fact that you are always learning new ways to do things and make life better! The moment I stop learning as a teacher is the moment I know I need to stop teaching.

On a personal note I have been spending tons of time with family. It has been so great to live so close to family after four years being apart. My hubby and I have truly enjoyed reconnecting and building up relationships that fell to the wayside while we were away.

In one short day the second semester will begin and the only thing at this moment I am dreading is getting up early – I am not a morning person at all (9am is my ideal wake up time). I have resolved to blog more, because I really do enjoy it. I just took time to really get into my new life before I started blogging this time. Until we meet again…

New Year, New House and New School

I am finally back in my hometown of Ila, Ga (and my mom is so happy). After months of applying and many interviews, I have gotten a job teaching 8th grade science and 6th grade language arts. There are so many changes happening in my life right now. In the last month alone we have moved to Georgia from Mississippi, went on vacation, and remodeled our kitchen. It has been crazy.

I am excited about my new school. I will be teaching at Oglethorpe County Middle School. It is about 30 minutes from my house. I am nervous because we teach on block schedule. I am used to 60 minute class periods and I don’t know how I am going to fill so much time! I am working on new things to use with my students and I have been doing some reading to refine my skills in cooperative learning and interactive notebooks. So be on the lookout for new products!! 🙂

Here is a picture of my fish that I caught while on vacation (pardon the lake hair):

I know this post was really scatter-brained, but I feel like that is how my summer is right now. Hopefully the next one will be more put together. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!! 🙂

Keep Calm We Passed the Test!!

So lately I have gotten some great data back from my kids. We use the STAR reading assessment to measure reading growth and I am happy to say that all my classes grew an average of 1.2 years. This is amazing for me as their teacher, but also for them as students. They entered my room being way below their grade level in reading so this gain, while not a fix all, is a giant step in the right direction.

Some people have asked me how we got to this point. I really point to building relationships with my students. I found out what they were interested in and tried to find them stuff to read based on that. It was not easy my students were very reluctant to read. I also gave incentives reading, so students could earn rewards for reading. Bottom line it comes down to knowing your students and what works for them.

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In other recent happenings, yesterday we celebrated the students who passed their state tests at proficient or advanced levels. We had about 46 students who scored proficient or advanced in our school (our school is small we have about 150 students). The trip was phenomenal!

Our first stop was Gattytown, which has laser tag, a huge arcade, and a pizza buffet. I really amped up laser-tag and told all my kids I was going to beat them! Thankfully I had a great team and we beat our team in laser tag by 800 points – Whoop Whoop!!

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The trip did not stop after our laseriffic time at GattyTown. We departed, after a horrendous rain storm, and wen to the movies. My group decided to see Pitch Perfect 2. It was  the perfect movie to watch with my group of girls! We were singing and dancing in the theater (we were the only people in there). It was so much fun, because we got to share laughter!!

We ate dinner at Longhorn’s (I know, I was floored when I found out we were eatting there). It was fun to see our students react to being in a nicer restaurant. After dinner we headed back to the school, and go back rather late.

I am so glad that I got the opportunity to share these moments – rewarding our students for their successes – in my last few days at my school.

Why be a teacher?

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things that I can do and it is my passion. I don’t feel rewarded or get the flattery that other jobs may receive. However, I do get the joy of spending my days with my students and they make it worth it. The small ah-ha moments and the laughs we share when something hilarious happens are what I live for. Last week was teachers appreciation week and I got lots of lovely notes from students, and it really reminded me why I became a teacher in the first place: 00000000-0000-0000-0000-0000273b87bc IMG_20150429_085916 (1) IMG_20150513_150158 IMG_20150513_150209 IMG_20150513_150219 IMG_20150513_150228 IMG_20150513_150302 The past several weeks have been incredibly hard for me. I am in the midst of a job search, and I am trying to find a job in my hometown. Throughout my search I have interviewed and been turned down. I am trying hard not to take it personal when I am rejected. But that is really hard. It was nice in the midst of my search to be reminded of why I teach and why I continue to pursue a job in this profession despite how difficult it may be. We have five days left of school and I am resolving to enjoy the time I have left with my students. I am moving home because it is the best thing for my family, but I will miss my kids terribly!