We had a blast at field day this year. The weather was absolutely perfect! It wasn’t too hot or too cold. Last year, I remember it being very cold and we had to beg students to compete in the water games. Thankfully that was not the case this year.
Recently there has been a push to add more writing in all content areas. Being from an ELA background I have welcomed this with open arms. I love writing and being able to see the creativity of my students through their writing.
We just finished a unit over the rock cycle, and to close our unit I created an assignment. My students had to pretend they were a piece of sand at the bottom of a river and write about how they became a rock and went through the rock cycle. They had an option to write a story or create a comic strip. I am very impressed with what they came up with. I had some stories about the sediment floating by SpongeBob’s pineapple and others about the rock being crushed in Super-Mario.
Here are a couple of examples that I thought really displayed their understanding of the rock cycle!
If you think you would like to use this in your classroom, I made a downloadable product on TeachersPayTeachers. Just click the picture below:
With the start of a new year comes many new students for this teacher. I thought about it the other day, and for every year I have been teaching the number of students has went up. In China I started with around 60 students, and that went up to 80 in Mississippi. Then my first year back in Georgia it raised up to 100 students. This year I have almost 150. For me it is a huge learning curve in how to grade, what to grade, when to grade, etc.
I came home this weekend with two assignments to grade. One was a quiz, which students self-graded in class. Another was a writing assignment about “What is a Scientist?” I am sure most teachers who grade their papers find a comfy place in their home, perhaps around the kitchen table. However, I am not your typical teacher. This week my papers were graded at the drive-in movies under the light of the moon, meteors, and truck lights. I didn’t get them all done there, but it was nice to be productively relaxing.
SO my question to you is – Where do you grade your papers? Do you take them to exotic locales or stick to home/school?
Today we looked at the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and as a class we modeled poetry after her poem “We Real Cool.” Some of my students published their poem on their blog as well. You can find their blogs by clicking student blogs at the top of the page.
We real smart.We
don’t fart. We
pass gas. When
we out of class.
We make A’s. We
go all the way!
~ ~ ~
We rule school. We
too cool. We
sit at school. We
obey the rules.
Sometimes it’s hard, but we
Faith defines who I am as a teacher. It gives me hope on days that seem hopeless, and a pillar of strength when I feel like I cannot go on. Teaching in case you don’t know or are just wondering is hard. I have wanted to leave the profession more times than I can count now, but the love that I have for my students tethers me to teaching. And at the end of the day I think it is something more. I feel called to be in the classroom. I love working for hours and hours to help one student reach a concept. I also live for that one student who says that I made a small difference in their life.
I was recently reminded of my Granny. She was a very special lady and I miss her each day. Although she was not a teacher she taught me how to care for other people. She worked during her last few years of life as a custodian. One year she told me about this girl who always wanted to hug her. My Granny being the person she was gave that girl a hug every single day. At the end of the year my granny recieved a note from the girl. It said simply, “Thanks for hugging me. No one else will and this is the first time I have been hugged since my mother died.” Wow! Giving a hug was such a simple thing and it meant the world to this girl.
As I prepare for the year ahead I have big goals and aspirations for each of my new students. I also have worries and concerns which I pray about daily. However, in my heart of hearts I hope that God will continually remind me that sometimes I need slow down and stop to look for the little things in life to truly bless my students.
Spring Semester has been a time of many, many breakthroughs for me as an educator. I honestly think that I was in a place of treading water last semester. What I mean by that is, I did not look forward to going to work each day and work felt like work. Now, I have finally come to the place where I am looking forward to going to work each day. Wooowho! (it doesn’t make teaching or managing my classroom any easier at times, but it does make me feel 10x better!)
As I mentioned earlier I have experienced many breakthroughs with my students. We have gotten incredibly close, and some of them call me ‘MA’ – which I equate with Freedom Writers. We have read some Holocaust literature and my students were very empathetic and dove deep into their reading. I was able to get some AMAZING writing from them.
Since spring break (the second week of March) we have been reading The Freedom Writers Diary and each student is required to keep a journal. I thought that this would only be another of my failures to add to my list. Surprisingly my students love their journals. We write about topics we are reading about and they can add their own writing at any time. The main thing that I keep in mind with journal prompts are the themes we are reading about and how relate-able it is to my students.
A week or so ago we had a journal topic about labels. What labels did people place on Ms. Gruwell and her students? What labels have people placed on you? During our discussion my students were not completely understanding the labels aspect of themselves. So I offered myself up as a guinea pig. I asked them what labels they could place on me. They started listing some personality traits and so forth. I redirected and said, “Okay, I walk into a room and you have never met me.” Silence. “Come on guys, I’m White!” Then one of the most amazing and profound thing happened. A student raised her hand and said, “Nuh-uh, Ms. Caldwell – You’re our color!”
I was and still am speechless. I have went through so much with my students just trying to give them a little taste of my passion for learning. It is nice to see how far we have journeyed! I am looking forward to our final moments of the year as bittersweet as they may be! Until next time…
Okay after way too long I am here to post some resources from my table at the innovation fair. I am dividing these by subject areas and I hope that you are able to find some great stuff to use with your students!
*A note about TpT – These are searches I conducted to find resources. TeachersPayTeachers is one of my favorite places. On the side you can select free and view all of the free resources.
FOR ALL SUBJECTS
Homeschool Share – lots of free lap-books and foldables to use for many subject areas. Great starting point and where I first got introduced to the idea of foldables.
Notebooking Fairy – this site has lots of graphic organizers to use in your classroom. I used the timeline pages for my Earth science class last year.
Notebooking Pages – sign up for a free account and you will get access to tons of free resources for interactive notes. It is divided by sections and has one section that includes 3-D notebook pages.
Lapbook Lessons – This includes free templates for lapbooking (3-D notes)
All About Lapbooks – This is a free download that I created to describe what lap-books are and how to use them in the classroom.
SCIENCE – These are from my store. Email me and I can send you the links (TFA Peeps)
Interactive Reading Notebook – Nonfiction: This is a resource I purchased for my classroom and my students love it when we take notes.
Interactive Reading Notebook – Fiction: Again another resource I purchased for my classroom.
Interactive Writing Notebook: I have not purchased this, but it looks pretty amazing!
Poetry Foldables – This is in my store. If you want it, let me know and I will send it to you (TFA Peeps)
* There were not very many social studies resources. However, you know your subject so I encourage you to search on your own!
Tech Resource from a School PD – https://www.evernote.com/shard/s2/sh/c668b9e1-dd79-4457-869c-28d75111f601/71f9201ed1cb299742618642d1730930
This week it is great to be a teacher (well most other weeks, too!). It is teacher appreciation week. With Teacher Appreciation Day on May 7th. I am making a cute gift for my co-workers using Fanta. It is super simple, but I want them to know how much I appreciate working with them. No man is an island and that is certainly true when it comes to teaching. We cannot function well as teachers without the support of our co-workers. Here is a picture of what I am making. You can click the picture to find the labels!
This semester in one of my classes I have started using Writers Workshop. So far it has worked out great. My students are excited to have a few minutes each day set aside to just write. This class is the last class of the day and I think the students find relief in just writing for a few minutes. I have used the following ideas in formatting my Writers Workshop:
Mini-Lessons – Each week I teach two mini-lessons pertaining to problems that students have in their writing. So far this has included subject/predicate agreement, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. After our break we are going to complete mini-lessons on formatting an essay and narrative writing. These mini-lessons do not last the entire class period (only 15-20 minutes), but include practice for the students to do in class or for homework. I also ask for student recommendations for mini-lessons. Usually they can pinpoint ideas that they need help with and we can complete a mini-lesson to review in class.
Conferencing – I also have conferences with students each week to talk about their writing. Before they come to conference they must pick out one thing they are finding difficult and one thing that they really like about their writing. We then discuss these two items and attempt to make their writing better.
Peer Review – Students are required to complete a peer review for their writing each week. This is something we have talked about a lot. Especially how to complete a helpful peer review.
Sharing – One day a week we all share what we have been working on. Everyone reads their writing and we give polite feedback.
Modeling – During this part of the day I write with the students, unless I am conferencing or teaching a mini-lesson. I work on my own writing and share with the students. It is important that they see me writing so that they see it is important to me as an adult.
Music – I have started to play music during writers workshop. It is strictly instrumental, but I heard from another teacher about a really neat group. Vitamin String Quartet actually transposes modern music into instrumentals. My students love it!
Maybe these few ideas will spark some inspiration for your class as well. I hope to add some of my mini-lessons to TpT soon, so be on the lookout!
Love is in the air! I have always loved Valentines Day. My mom and granny always worked very hard to make it a special day for me. However, one thing I have realized is Valentines day is one of those holidays that many of my friends don’t appreciate. Keeping that in mind I try to add humor into my classroom on Valentines day. I use cheesy pick-up lines to play a game or to create writing prompts. They work really well with my ESL kids, because they have an opportunity to understand different figures of speech.
Here are a few ideas for using them in your classroom:
Option 1: Cut apart these cheesy pick-up lines and put them in a bowl. Students should draw one line and try to act it out with a partner. You can choose whether students should look at the line before the scene starts or not.
Option 2: Charades. Have students act out the line without using words. This could be really tricky!
Option 3: Have students choose one of the lines for a writing prompt. They could invent the history of this cheesy line or write a letter to a special someone.
Be sure to stop by my store and pick up my Valentines Day Freebie!