Wednesday, January 3, 2018

My One Little School Word

Happy New Year, Friends 😀
It's 2018. Could you believe it?

Have you heard of the "One Little Word" thing?

Watch this video by Ali Edwards to learn more.


I started choosing my OLW in January 2014.  
This year will hold my fifth OLW.
My 2018 OLW for my non-teaching life is "arise".
This year I chose to use this same word for my professional life, as well.  I chose "arise" for several reasons, but mostly, 
I think this word is a vivid reminder for me to pick myself up when circumstances appear to weigh me down.  

This 2017-2018 school year has come with some added obligations that I haven't had before.  I'm the ELA Professional Learning Community Facilitator.  This position in itself has proven to have a very sharp learning curve.  Then, we've had some personnel transitions in our department, requiring me to fill in where needed in order to keep everything running smoothly.  Then, of course, I have my regular teaching duties that come with its own set of obligations.  

With so much coming towards me, it was very easy to just crawl inside a cocoon and check out whenever absolutely necessary.  Checking out and living in a cocoon is not what I want, nor does it provide inspiration and excitement that is vital to enduring in our profession.  

So this year, just like the butterfly, I hope to arise from that cocoon, move upward when circumstances get heavy.  

How?

 I think I often worry that the worse scenario is going to happen, therefore I try to be as proactive as possible.  But, if I've learned one thing I've learned this, I can't prepare for everything.  And, even when the worse thing has happened, things have a way of working themselves out anyway. So, one way to ARISE is to remember everything is going to be ok.  Relax.

Also, I plan to "arise" by coming out of my classroom more often and find time to connect with others more.  Teaching can become a lonely profession. There's so much to do and so little time to get it all done.  So, we use every minute of every day to cram one more thing in.  Before we know it, we've been shut in our rooms and haven't lived the day.  This word "arise" is a reminder that I need to come out and 
live a little during the day.

Another way I plan to "arise" this year in the classroom is to make more time for "fun" and not be chained to all the requirements, and testing, and data, and . . .  I think we need to find time to laugh, to create, to chat, and to enjoy our time with the kids and with our colleagues.  That should be in the scope and sequence. 😀  

One last way I plan to "arise" to allow new, unexpected, and unsolicited obligations to help me grow and increase my skills and craft.  I have to admit, learning curves are not fun, and the first thing that comes to mind is, "I don't need this!"  But, what if I do need it?  What if the struggle is exactly what I need to refine who I am as a person and as a teacher?  Quitting is not an option in 2018.  I plan to "arise" and keep moving upward. 



Well, that's it for now.  God Bless!  
I hope 2018 brings you love, happiness and peace.  

Friday, September 29, 2017

Whats In My Teacher Bag


Happy Fall, Everyone!

CONFESSION

I'm becoming a YouTube fanatic.  

I admire YouTubers who have the courage to put themselves out there and share their ideas and expertise with complete strangers. I sometimes wonder if I would have the guts to start my own "A Day In the Life of a Teacher" channel.  I'm not there yet. Nonetheless, I still enjoy watching them.  I've gotten savvy ideas, inspiration, and energy watching teachers share what they do with such enthusiasm.  Kudos to all of you.  (In my last blog post, I hyperlinked some of my favorite channels.)  

"What's In My Teacher Bag" is a popular YouTube topic that many teachers post.  I'm fascinated by them. Go figure.
 So, here's my version of "What's In My Teacher Bag".

MY TEACHER BAG REQUIREMENTS

My bag has to be cute, of course, functional and different from the one I used the year before.  Yes, every year I kind of, sort of use a different bag.  Why?  Because I'm easily bored.  I don't always buy a new one, sometimes I revive old ones. My teacher bag must have ample space to fit all of my stuff, but not too big where it's difficult to carry.  And, one more requirement, my school bag keeps my school stuff and my personal bag keeps my personal stuff.  I've tried combining everything making my school bag multi-functional.  It seems like the logical thing to do.  I mean, who likes to carry two bags?  I don't either.  However, merging the two didn't work for me.  often take care of personal errands after school and I don't need to bring all of my school items into the supermarket.  
So, I do in fact carry two bags.

I usually don't purchase bags for myself.  
My husband enjoys buying me bags for special days.  
Last year, I asked for a Charming Charlie's bag for Mother's Day. When I saw it, I thought it was darling.  
And, the price was, well, you couldn't beat it.

My intention was to use it for school, but then I didn't.  
I just continued using the bag I had been using prior to Mother's Day.  This summer I decided to take the Charming Charlie's bag with me on our trip to Jamaica and I loved it.  That's when I decided I'd use it for school this year.  


The best feature of this bag is that it's a bag in a bag. 


The inside bag has snaps on either side that get attached to the larger tote.  This is why it makes a great traveling bag.  Important items are secured inside and the open tote provides easy access to other less important ones.


For school, I keep my tablet, electronic accessories and other items I need to secure.  


This little black and gold zipper pouch holds my electronic accessories.  


I keep a little stash of "stress relievers" in my private compartment for 2pm slumps.  Vital.


My teacher binder goes in the larger tote for easy access.
This binder is used for lesson planning, student information, and my class procedures' manual.


My school gives teachers a copy of the student agendas and many of us use it as a monthly planner.  This year the planners were back ordered and they wouldn't arrive until 4 weeks later. I couldn't wait, so I purchased an inexpensive one at TJMaxx to get me through the first few weeks. I'm just going to use it this entire year.  It's not fancy, but it does the job and was budget friendly. 


Another confession, I'm a pen and office supply hoarder.  
I've noticed, however, I'm not the only one.   It fits the profile of many teachers. I picked up this cute little silver pouch at Target for less than $2.  It holds some of my pens and I just throw it into the tote part of my bag.  


This little pencil pouch keeps tape, Washis, clips, glue sticks, etc.


I do have another old Clinique pouch that keeps items, 
such as, hand sanitizer, band-aids, eyeglass cloths, vaseline, etc.  Just in case.  I'll be honest, I rarely use anything in here, 
but I carry it anyway.  


I love this bag.  There's a good possibility, if it holds up well,
I might give it a second run next year.  We'll see. . .

What's in your teacher bag?

Friday, September 22, 2017

New Take on Journaling

I live in South Florida and we certainly felt the weight of this hurricane season.  Our stores, restaurants and even gasoline stations are still not completely re-stocked.  It's sad going into the supermarkets and seeing empty produce and meat shelves.  Most shutters are all down, some people keep them up just in case. Debris is cleaned up and placed in our front yards waiting to be picked up.  School is back in session, people are getting back to their regular routines. But, we're different somehow.   

Interestingly, I was looking forward to getting back to school.  
I couldn't wait to hear all my kids' individual hurricane stories and, honestly, just getting back to my regular routine.  

During the week our schools were closed, I worked at home trying to get myself together so that when I arrived back I wouldn't be disoriented.  I watched lots of YouTube videos and got mountains of inspiration.  Thank you, YouTube teachers.
Here are some of my favorites:

One Fab Teacher
Pocketful of Primary
Real Rap With the Reynolds
The Lettered Classroom

New Take on Journal Writing

Bell work in my class is always either Just Read or Just Write.  
Just Read is a school-wide initiative where students read for 20 uninterrupted minutes in the morning when they arrive at their first-hour class.  That takes care of first period.  
For the following periods, we Just Write.  


Just Write Journals are, of course, composition books.  
One year I had students decorate their composition books. 
It was fun, but it took too much time and money.  
Now we just decorate with stickers earned and headbands.

New Journal Themes

When I first started journals with my kids I would scrounge around for interesting topics.  Students would randomly write ideas centered around any given topic. I always felt there was something missing and this format wasn't much of a benefit.  Yes, it had them writing, but very little effort was required.

Now, we have a new plan.

 Each day of the week has a theme and a task.  
Themes and tasks focus on a particular text structure.  
This year, I have four themes for each day of the week to keep the kids from getting bored with the same theme from week to week.

We don't write on Mondays because we're in the Computer Lab all day completing our computer learning obligations. 
Themes begin on Tuesday.  Tuesday has two themes. The first is:


On Tuesdays, we PLAN OUR WEEK.  
After students write their agenda items and attendance has been taken, we take out our This Week's Work packet and discuss what we are doing for that week, the standards and strategies we will focus on and assignments to be completed and turned in the following Monday.

We also update our Just Write Journal Table of Contents and prepare our headings and pages for the week's journal entries. Each entry has a number, a date, a theme, a topic and a task. We discuss our themes, topics and tasks to make sure everyone understands the vocabulary and expectations.  

Once we have prepared our journal pages, students choose the entry of most interest to them, we put on the timer and students add one entry.  The following days, students begin writing during bell work while I take care of housekeeping duties.  I don't need to explain because we already discussed expectations at Tuesday's Pow-Wow.  If a student was absent, one of my student leaders helps me to fill them in.  If another student is struggling with the task, again, one of my student leaders helps me out. 

Tuesday's Writing Themes:

Type of Writing:  Argumentative 
Topics:  2 opposing ideas (Teacher or Student Choice)
Task:  Choose and defend their position


Type of Writing:  Informative/Explanatory
Topics:  Current Event (World, Community, Family, Personal)
Task:  Answer - Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?


Type of Writing:  List
Topics:  Talent, Skill, Hobby, etc. (Student Choice)
Task:  Ideas that would help a novice learner


Type of Writing:  Problem and Solution
Topics:  Problem (Student or Teacher Choice)             
Task:  Define/describe the problem and offer logical ideas for a positive solution

Type of Writing:  Personal or Imaginary Narrative
Topic:  Humorous or Exaggerated Event
Task:  Tell the story referencing the narrative elements

Type of Writing:  Reflective Summary
Topic:  Growth Mindset
Task:  Read a short story, fable or folktale.  Reflect on how character attitudes begin and change.  Identify with the character and draw conclusions of lessons learned.

Type of Writing:  Cause & Effect
Topics:  Situations, Occurrences, Events, Actions
Task:  Describe the event.  Share what the causes are and what the outcomes are.  Reflect on benefits and consequences.

Type of Writing:  Research
Topic:  An unknown subject or question - Student Choice
Task:  Research information through the internet, books, people and document findings and conclusions


Type of Writing:  List
Topics:  "Currently" - Student Choice
Task:  Write a list of all of the reasons to be thankful 
(This prompt is not limited to November writing.)


Type of Writing:  Personal Narrative
Topic:  A memory or flashback
Task:  Re-tell the story using narrative elements


Type of Writing:  Informative/Explanatory
Topic:  Universal Ideas, Trends, Social Media, Pop Culture
Task:  Share how these ideas have influenced their personal lives or the lives of others


Type of Writing:  Persuasive/Argumentative
Topic:  Personal or Public Opinion (Teacher/Student Choice)
Task:  Choose personal preference. Argue against counterclaim.  Make recommendations.

Free Day - No Writing

Type of Writing:  End of Week Exit Ticket
Topic:  Week of Learning
Task:  What I learned?  What is still confusing? Ideas for teacher, rate the teacher, recommendations, etc.

Type of Writing:  Personal - Informative
Topic:  Personal Feelings, Opinions, Concerns, Shout-Outs
Task:  Share personal feelings and or thoughts

Then, of course, who doesn't love Fun Friday?  

Type of Writing:  Writing for Fun
Fun Topics:  Our Faves! 
Music, Sports, Food, Places, Games, etc.
Fun Task:  Draw a poster, Draw Doodles, Lettering, Scrapbooking, etc.
Fun Place:  Outside under a tree, 
by the school track, 
in the school courtyard,  
in the dark with flashlights, 
with music in the background, 
in alternative seating,
etc.


Hoping you were able to get some new ideas for your journaling format.  If you have more ideas, please share.