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!