Monday, May 13, 2019

Monday's Mixed Bag

There have been a few changes in our household.  We are excited to have our dog, Indie, as part of the family. We got her from a pet shelter and she's been a joy.  My son is crazy about her and she's been really well-behaved.

Ciaran had a wonderful First Communion this past weekend.  His grandmother visited from Boston and we had a special day. 

I hope all the Moms, aunts, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and anybody who steps in, had a very happy Mother's Day.


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Going From They Can't To We Can

"They can't do that!"
"Didn't I teach this already?"
These sayings can be heard across all walks of life. I think the best way to fix this mentality is to start by doing and we, as teachers, need to lead by example.

In our classrooms, students might struggle with various academic lessons.  It's easy to say they can't do that. I know... I'm sure we've all said this at some point.  I truly believe if you make writing a consistent part of your day, then students will begin to soar. In upcoming blog posts, I will discuss strategies I have found to be quite effective through all my years of teaching.

Our daily writing volume is substantial, but it becomes the new norm (a favorite kindergarten teacher friend of mine always says this).  Sometimes when we say they can't, meaning the students, what we really mean is- I don't know how... and this is OK.  This is when we turn to our colleagues, the people we see as experts, anyone that will listen, and lean on them for advice.  This goes for any subject matter.

Here are the topics of discussion
  • Teach mini-lessons daily
  • Provide anchor charts
  • Use mentor texts
  • Allow for student sharing
  • Celebrate success
  • Don't handcuff the writing with constant negative feedback
  • Offer choice with the various text types (narrative, opinion, expository)
  • Don't grade everything 
  • Provide a model for the students to follow
  • Put graded/ungraded practices in place
  • Build writing stamina

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monday's Mixed Bag (mystery)


I hope you enjoyed your weekend.  Today's focus is on three things that have gone well in my classroom this year. The students are willing to go the extra mile each and every single day.
  • My mystery trash item continues to get the students up and moving at the end of the day.  I heard of this genius idea, a few years ago, from another teacher.  You write a mystery item on a post-it note.  The item the students are searching for could possibly be a crumpled paper, an open drawer, a chair not pushed in properly, items on the ground such as markers, crayons, pens, pencils, etc.  Whichever student(s) find the mystery item at the end of the day, upon the big reveal, receive positive recognition.  You can also have the student take a bow.  Our classroom gets tidy, students work together, and praise is given.  What could be better?  Click here to access my freebie!
  • My students have been putting so much effort into their typing skills.  Many of the students are typing so quickly!  They are working on typing stamina as well as composing digitally written pieces through Google Docs and Google Classroom.  Digital composition is a different skill that students need to be taught and given time to practice.  When they write digitally, students are exercising different parts of their brain and thinking in new and creative ways.
  • I play "Stand By Me" at the end of the day and students sing along and close up for the day.   They check to see if their desks are neat, mailboxes are emptied, homework is in their backpack, etc.  It ends the day on a positive note and everyone walks out with a smile on their face!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Finding the Positive in our Students' Writing

Sometimes we have to take a step back and find something positive in our students' writing. At times, we might be pulling our hair out... and we want to scream.  Personally, I don't have much hair to pull, but take a deep breath, pause, and reflect.  What can I say to this student to motivate him/her? How can I bring a positive spin to this written piece? You are saying to yourself, "This student could really use a boost."

Focusing on the positive builds student confidence and helps them continue implementing what is already going well.  Furthermore, it is refreshing, as a teacher, to look at a student's writing with an eye for the positive.  When you notice students are "getting it" and using strategies you taught in their writing; it will motivate you to keep going.  Remember, not everyone will get "everything" all at once.  But, when you are constantly on the lookout for what is going well, you are sure to find it!
These are suggestions to use with your students in finding the positive: 
  • You started with an amazing hook!
  • I like your use of figurative language.
  • I see you mirrored Lois Lowry's (insert author) craft.
  • That's a great use of "suddenly" in your writing.
  • Did you use your thesaurus for this term?
  • Your stamina is improving by the day.
  • Your "writerly" moves are amazing!
  • Are you beginning to self-regulate?
  • You just took the house down with that lead!
  • To quote Dick Vitale..."Are You Serious?" I mean this a good way with excitement!
  • How did you think of embedding this idea?
  • I see you used suggestions from the anchor chart.
  • Are you willing to share this idea with the class?
  • May I share your amazing writing with the class?
  • Where do you see this piece going next?
How do you offer positive feedback?  Please feel free to share your own comments, suggestions, or ideas.  If you are looking for a great read about positive feedback, check out Katherine Bomer's Hidden Gems.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Monday's Mixed Bag


In this week's Monday's Mixed Bag, I am going to focus on three positive things.

My son continues to make me laugh each and every day.  He has a great sense of humor and he's very quick-witted.  He gets that from his uncle Mike!

In class, I enjoy starting each day with a soft opening (S.Ahmed).  I like to play a song while the students walk around and say hello to one another.   This gives me an opportunity to hear about the many things they enjoy doing over weekends and breaks.  In addition, this comes in handy when it is time to write and a student is struggling with ideas.  Writer's block can be lifted instantly if you remind a student about a moment they shared.

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in about a week.  I am huge baseball fan and can't wait for the next baseball season. I wish your team well!

Have any of you ever used baseball stats or league standings as a math lesson? Students can be in charge of keeping the information accurate and up to date.  It's a unique way to engage students with out of the box lessons.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Some of My Favorite Quotes

“Well done is better than well said.” Franklin
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Disney 
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Franklin
“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” Roosevelt 
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.” Confucius
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Tzu
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”  Twain
“Set your goals high and do not stop until you get there.” Bo Jackson
“Never, never, never give up.”  Churchill
“The way to getting started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Disney
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” Hinckley
“The people who influence you are the people who believe in you.” Drummond
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Hill
“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Andrews
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” Marshall
“After a storm comes calm.” Henry 
“Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.” James
“Always desire to learn something useful.”  Sophocles
“The more things you do the more you can do.” Ball
“You will never win if you never begin.” Rowland
“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream the farther you get.“ Michael Phelps
“The most important thing in this world is family and love.”  Wooden
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”  Keller
 “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career and lost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life and that is why I succeeded.” Michael Jordan

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Classroom Reads Part II

This is the reading list for grades 5-8.  As I've stated before, please feel free to email me any other amazing reads for any grade level.

Grades 5-8
  • Tuesday's at the Castle (5th)-series
  • Circus Mirandus (5th)
  • Out of my Mind (5th)
  • The Misadventures of Maude March (5th)
  • A Single Shard (5th)
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (5th)
  • Amelia Lost!: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart (5th)- non-fiction text
  • Wonder (5th)
  • Number the Stars (5th)
  • Esperanza Rising (5th)

  • Tuck Everlasting (6th)
  • The Thing About Jelly Fish (6th)
  • Holes (6th)
  • Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere (6th)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows (6/7th)
  • The War That Saved My Life (8th)
  • Chains (8th)