Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today I read something that made me stop and think....

I was reading an article about what all teachers wish parents knew, and it said that (and this is loosely quoted) "the worst teachers give the best grades". I'm not sure that I agree with this for several reasons:

1. Teachers don't GIVE grades; students EARN them.

but that aside..the real part that bothered me was: "the WORST teachers".

2. I am not a teacher that is out to FAIL students. You see, I believe it's my JOB to push students to be successful. That doesn't mean that I give unrealistic grades. It means that I do everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in my power to make sure every students understands the concepts. It's called...wait for it.....DIFFERENTIATION!! I don't wake up and ask myself, "How many kiddos can I fail today?" I get up and ask,"How many can I make understand?" I think THAT is what truly seperates the WORST from the rest. Yes, I have had students not pass, but those are students who truly needed extra support outside the classroom and were not getting it at that moment. I have a nice "bell-curve", but I will have to say, it's heavy on the high side! I WANT my students to succeed, and if that takes me helping them redo a paper 3 or 4 times just so I can give them a 70, then so be it! That's MY JOB! You see, I know that everytime they "redo" it, they are learning over and over again. if I have more than half my students with an average of 80-90%, does that make me a bad teacher?

I don't think so...

I've always thought about it this way-the more students I have being successful, the better the teacher I am. Am I wrong??? Do I have to have students failing to mean I'm a good teacher because I'm pushing them way past their limits? Something to think about. Here is the link I read that caused me unneeded stress:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Comparing Characters

If you've never read Beatrice's Goat byPaige McBrier or The Royal Bee by Frances Park, you and your students are missing out on a perfect pair of books for comparing and contrasting characters! Both characters come from poverty and rise above their problems to attend school and help their families. The overall theme of each book is a life lesson we all can learn from. Here are the anchor charts our class created during the lesson. Students worked on their graphic organizers in their Reading Reflection journals as we worked on the large ones all together.
The circle charts include characteristics of Beatrice and Song Ho around the inner circle. The outer circle has our inferences about the characters. We then did a venn diagram between the two. This was over two days. The students are now able to do this graphic organizer easily with other books during Literature circles or other lessons across curriculum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The BEST kids EVER!!!

I just feel compelled to share....

I have/had the BEST students EVER! not ALL students are on my list of "I can't wait to have their sibling...", but, for the most part, I feel like I've always had the cutest, smartest, most well-behaved students in the school! Maybe it's just the fact that I BELIEVE it, so it comes true?? Hey...whatever it takes! This year, in particular, I feel so blessed to have such social little butterflies! I actually have about 70 students this year that pass through my classroom (we switch 3 times, :( which I DON'T recommend for 4th grade), but - on the bright side- it's given me opportunity to get to know some amazing children. I call some of them amazing, because if I had to have gone through what some of these children are going through at 9 and 10 years old, I don't know that I would be where I am today.

My Kiddos Make Me Laugh!!!!

I truly CANNOT wait to see them everyday! They make me smile! Really, they do!! I like the fact that you just never know what might come out of their little mouths, "Mrs. Gates, you've been teaching longer than I've been alive!" Gotta love them! Now, don't get me wrong...I've been through the "I've GOT to find a different job!" years. But, I guess, with age and experience, you find the "happy medium". You know... that place where you aren't so picky about every little bitty thing, you know that 'kids-will-be-kids' and they aren't perfect. That happy place that lets you know you've finally 'got it'! Kids like you because you understand them, respect them, and give them second chances. You know they're not perfect, and don't expect them to be. You know they need reminders, encouragement, pats on the back, and hugs. I've softened, and I LOVE it!

Tomorrow, I think I'll try to tell every child that comes through my door that I love them! Wouldn't that make their day? What if I'm the only person who says that to them on that day, week, month, year? Their little souls need us to be there, to be present, to give them our full attention...even if it's just to hear (for the 13th time) about their cat that ran away. They need us, you, me.

Word Wall

Use black butcher paper and colored chalk for Word Wall!

My favorite Anchor charts

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Reading Boxes!

This was a 3 day weekend..thank goodness! I managed to complete a longtime teaching dream I've had...Reading Workshop boxes for each of my students! Okay, here's how I embellished them:

1) Bought apple green spray paint, (2 cans), white duck tape, and black and white decorative wall border.

2) Started spray painting the boxes, leaving the bottom part not painted since it would be covered eventually anyway.

3)Realized I had not purchased enough paint! Ran to the store to buy more! Bought 2 more cans of purple and 2 more cans of black-glossy finish.

4)Spray painted the rest of the boxes (2 cans covers about 22 boxes).

5)Let them dry overnight in the garage.

6)Used the duck tap to secure up the bottom and around the bottom of the box (part of this will remain showing).

7)Cut the wall border to fit the boxes.

8)Peel and stick.

You can also use cabinet liner, which is what I ended up using when I ran out of the wall boarder. I then ran out of the cabinet liner, so I purchased zebra striped duct tape to finish out the last 7 boxes. Here is a picture of the end result (more pictures are under Literature Circles):

Friday, January 13, 2012

My mind is overflowing with I have to share!

Today, my banker boxes arrived!! Woo hoo! What am I using them for? Reading Workshop! Every child has their own banker box to keep their Reading Reflection journal in, Reading folder that holds uncompleted work (or work that needs to shared during literature circles), a chapter book they are reading for small groups, and 2 other books they are either reading, or thinking about reading.