Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Behavior & Teamwork

As teachers, we have received extensive training to understand student behavior. But, even with years of teaching experience and a bag full of tricks, student behavior can make or break a classroom environment.

So, what's the solution to this age-old problem? Don't try to tackle behavior on your own. Understanding behavior takes teamwork. Involve students' families in the process.  

Click on the pictures above for a handout that can be used to educate families. This handout addresses the following topics: Is Behavior a Sign? What are Typical Behaviors? What are Some Behavioral Signs? How to Steer Towards Positive Behavior. Plus, there is a "parent toolkit" with tips and resources.

Here are some additional resources to help communicate with students' families.

Looking for a weekly behavior report template…click here

Need a behavior report with more than one week on a page…click here 

Need a more detailed means to communicate behavior issues with parents…click here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shoot for the Moon!

You've felt that fire inside, right?!? That drive that makes you feel invincible?! It is this passion and zeal that has surprised me so often. This summer was a perfect example. I set out to write a proposal for a DonorsChoose project. Writing the request was daunting in its own right. I didn't kid myself. I knew that the possibility of funding was slim. Especially since I was requesting technology. Even after looking at other modest proposals, I still felt empowered. I knew that I had the best intentions. I felt as if I could will it true. Could there really be donors generous enough to fund this teacher's wish? 

Two days before my proposal was set to expire, my project was funded!! This is one instance where I'm glad I didn't over think. I hope you feel that passion and zeal. Surprise yourself…jump in...do something big! Remember, it is free to dream. Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars!! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

First and Foremost

I am thankful for so many people and experiences that I've had in my life. But, there are 3 that stand out in the front of my mind. 

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family. Second, I am grateful for the opportunity to be a teacher. I love learning from my students everyday. Third, I appreciate the teacher blogging community and the creativity it offers. 
My first graders spell out Happy Birthday Mrs. Lochridge.
As a way to say thank you, here are some free Thanksgiving resource links.

Head on over to What the Teacher Wants to link up!!

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing Support from Home

Writing is typically one of the last academic pieces to fall into place for students. Writing involves both mental and physical skills. It also depends on such variables as encouragement, motivation, support, etc. Because of this complex process, parents frequently ask for ways to help their child become a more fluent writer. In response, I was moved to compile various ideas, strategies, and tips for helping students write at home. Encourage a writing support system in your own classroom. Get your copy here today! 

Check out these fabulous picture prompts 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Are Now Entering...

If I told you that this school year has been one of a kind, let's be honest...we both know that is such an understatement! I feel like a first year teacher all over again. Welcome to...My Twilight Zone.

When I flash back to my first year of teaching, those feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and inadequacy come flooding in. These emotions are fresh, as if it happened yesterday. I remember spending weekends and long hours lesson planning, scripting out what to say, and preparing materials for instruction. In hindsight, I unsuccessfully tried to control my chaos.

So, upon starting my 9th year of teaching, I felt confident. My familiarity with first grade curriculum, procedures, and expectations was second nature. I was excited to learn about the new Common Core Standards. I welcomed the notion of a consistent and rigorous curriculum to stimulate and guide student learning. Of course it was going to take effort, training, and diligence to successfully implement. My desire to teach students focused, challenging, and useful material justified the effort. 

Well, things are never as they appear. Now, I don't know about your district, but the Common Core is NOT the only new item on the table. We have thrown out older systems and procedures to clear the way for brand new Common Core resources. Since the start of the school year, I have participated in continual training and directives to learn how to implement new systems for: formative assessment, summative assessment, online lesson planning, report cards, and data analysis reports. 

Of course it makes sense that new standards would require new assessments. However, it is natural to question the integrity and validity of our newly compiled systems when they are causing such confusion and stress. When focus is spread too thin, it seems inevitable that communication and clarity of vision will falter. 

So, this begs the question: Are we trying to do too much at once? Is quantity interfering with the quality of student learning? Are we working against ourselves and producing the opposite desired effect? If districts create faulty and misaligned systems, how will this affect the implementation of the Common Core? 

For me, the most stressful feelings come from lack of communication, not knowing where to start, finding the time, and doing right by the students. Communication and collaboration can be a school's saving grace. Or, maybe things just have to fall apart so other things can fall into place. I totally think Pete the Cat was written for teachers. "Does Pete get upset? Goodness, no. Instead, Pete continues along singing his song about his" positive, focused, and flexible attitude. 

With that said, I try not to complain without offering a solution. However, we all know there is not a quick fix. So, I offer up a resource that I hope you'll find useful. It is a list of CCSS text exemplars from the North Carolina Department of Education. Not only are the exemplars sorted by grade level and genre, but you will find links to some of the poetry and short passage exemplars online, ISBN numbers, and prices at Amazon.com. This list mirrors the resources listed in CCSS Appendix B. Use the list as an example and reference for increasing text rigor. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Veterans Day

Q. Which is the correct spelling of Veterans Day?
a. Veterans Day
b. Veteran's Day
c. Veterans' Day

AVeterans Day (choice a). Veterans Day does not include an apostrophe but does include an "s" at the end of "veterans" because it is not a day that "belongs" to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.

Apostrophes aside, I love teaching students about the history and significance of Veterans Day with my Veterans Day PowerPoint for Elementary Students. This presentation has colorful, realistic, and poignant pictures that are age-appropriate. It concludes with the song and lyrics for "God Bless the U.S.A."

Check out these other fabulous and free Veterans Day resources. Happy Veterans Day!! Ooh Rah!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harcourt Trophies Supplement: Catch a Dream

Now available Harcourt Trophies "Catch a Dream" Basal II supplement for guided reading groups and centers. Stories include: Dan's Pet, Boots for Beth, Space Pup, Where Do Frogs Come From?, Try Your Best, and Fun with Fish. Activities are specifically geared towards the rigor of Common Core Standards. Materials can be used in a writing center, reading center, phonics center, pocket chart center, game center, & art center. 

Each story has customized:
-Teacher Talk cards
-Focus Skill graphic organizers
-Writing Prompts
-5 in a Row: Word Fluency Game
-Reading Tic-Tac-Toe Game
-Scrambled Sentence activity
-Pocket Chart materials

Also included:
*Bonus writing templates, graphic organizers, and flip books that can be used interchangeably with each of the basal stories.
**Directions, Harcourt Trophies Focus Skill outline, and Common Core Standards List.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lesson Planning in the 21st Century

Lesson Plan Example {click pic to download}
This is kind of strange to say…but, one of my favorite things to check out are other teacher’s lesson plans. I like to see different templates, components, details, etc. Each teacher has a style, making each plan unique. I enjoy seeing how others approach the craft of teaching. Maybe it’s just the administrator in me. That’s when I find myself looking too closely at the details and evaluating! School districts typically outline certain features that must be present in a teacher’s lesson plans. 
In our District, we are required to follow the Components of an Effective Lesson when lesson planning and teaching students. Click the picture for a download that defines each component.  

pre-Curriculum Engine
The Clark County School District is the fifth largest in the nation. With the implementation of the Common Core Standards this 2011-2012 school year, all teachers in our District have online access to the curriculum. The “Curriculum Engine” was created by our District to provide a more efficient method for accessing the curriculum, downloading pacing guides for assessment purposes, creating calendars, locating resource downloads, and here’s the cherry on top…lesson planning!

Calendar Layers {subjects}
One of the key advantages of lesson planning in the Curriculum Engine is the option to share and collaborate with other teachers. For each subject, you create what is called a “calendar layer”. You can determine who is able to view your lesson plans. The three viewing access options are: Private - the calendar layer can be viewed by you and, of course, your administrators. School - the calendar layer can be subscribed to by any other teacher at your school. Public - the calendar layer can be subscribed to by any teacher in the entire District. You can also allow colleagues to edit your layers. What a great way to collaborate and plan with other teachers in your grade level. Gone are the days of lesson plan collaboration via email attachments!! 

Find and Drag Standards
The vision of the Curriculum Engine was to provide tools for lesson planning. My favorite feature is the user-friendly “clicking” and “dragging” of the standards directly into your lesson plans. I find the standard(s) that I am covering, click the notepad icon, drag the icon over to the calendar or lesson plan, and then let the mouse button go. It "drops" that specific standard into my lesson. Standards are listed at the bottom of each subject's lesson plans. 

Calendar View

Online Lesson Planning View

In the Clark County School District there are over 18,000 educators, who have an incredible amount of knowledge about teaching. My District asked the question, “Imagine if we could somehow harness this collective knowledge into an enormous filing cabinet?” It was decided that the Curriculum Engine would provide a way for teachers to store and access our District’s knowledge about the standards and how to unwrap them. Unwrapped standards are the essential concepts and skills that students must know and be able to do in order to meet {and even exceed} expectations.
Unwrapped Standards Features (Live Links)
Unwrapped Standard RI.1.9
To say the very least, the Curriculum Engine has changed how I lesson plan. I type my lesson into the CE, click & drag the corresponding standards, and then print. Plans print in an easy-to-read list format. My administrators have electronic access to my lesson plans. The Curriculum Engine has made my job easier (and less time-consuming). An efficient planning tool is all an overworked overachiever like me could ask for.
How have the new standards changed your lesson planning?