Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Presenting in Temple City

The UCLA National Writing Project sent me to Temple City today for a workshop. The main focus was narrative writing.  In addition,  I showed the teachers various strategies to get students to write.

I can't believe how engaged and involved the teachers were throughout the session.  They were respectful, understanding and willing to listen to new ideas.

It was honor to present to such an inspiring group.

Thank you!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Quick Ways to Get Your Students To Write


Many of us are still on summer vacation, but the school year is fast approaching for others.  I have three suggestions for getting your students to write during the first few days of school.  I know you will have to get your class management and routine started, but you can still use these practices.

# 1  On the first day, hand every student an index card.  Ask the students to write three things about themselves.  It can be things they like, dislike, places they visited, family events, etc.  It can be anything they want to share. On the back of the card, ask them to write down three songs they like.

# 2  Incorporate music into your morning routine.  Maybe you can have a song playing as they enter the class.

# 3 Students fill out the topic sheet listed below.  The topics stretch across a wide range of ideas. Additional topics may be written on the back.  Click here for your free copy.

You might be wondering why I do these activities.  The index cards will give you immediate feedback about your students. You have a starting point.  In addition, you might want to look up the lyrics to unfamiliar songs to ensure appropriate language and consider playing them for the class in the morning.  That student will beam when she/he hears her/his song. Many of the students will have the songs on CD.

We have a morning greet where the entire class walks around saying good morning to each other.  Playing music starts our day off in a positive manner.  As I walk the room, students tell me about things they like, pets, family events, sports, vacations, awards, rehearsals, and several other events in their lives.  I store this information in my head.  I follow up by asking questions in return as we are roaming the class.  I am validating that I care and I listen to what's important to them.  When it comes to writing, and they are having struggling with ideas, I can verbally bring up things they shared.  "Didn't you tell me you hit a home run?"  "I can't believe your grandmother visited? " Once you give them personal references, they have a starting point.

The topic charts will allow for several writing opportunities.  You can make copies for yourself to reference and hand the original copy to the students to store in their writing folders.  Students may reference the chart all year long for inspirational ideas.

These ideas/suggestions always come in handy at some point during the year.  When you read through their topic charts and index cards, you may write anecdotal notes, if needed.  Within the first few days of school, you will have a plethora of information and more importantly, you are validating your interest in each and every student.

I hope these suggestions help you!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mickelson Exxon/Mobil

I attended the Mickelson Exxon Mobil STEM conference this week in Pittsburgh and I was blown away.  The organizers, presenters, faculty, staff, fellow teachers, and speakers were all amazing.  I was in awe the entire week.

I have several hands on science and math lessons I can bring to my class this year. In addition, I have a new outlook on the way I will teach this subject matter.

I was pushed out of my comfort zone and that was a good thing.  Every workshop sent me into a state of disequilibrium.  I literally stood there in amazement on more than one occasion.

If you ever get a chance to attend, I highly recommend this golden opportunity. You will make friends, learn from others and think in ways you never imagined.

Hats off to such an inspiring conference!

If you are interested in attending a future academy click here.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Why We Teach

There are those moments in our lives that make us appreciate what we do.  I have to admit I was blown away by some feedback from my third grade students this year.  I know I mentioned what an amazing group of third graders I had this year, but they still went above and beyond in so many ways.  

I can't say enough about this feedback:


Dear Mr. Killeen,

I am wholly lucky that I was in Mr. Killeen's wonderful sanctuary of a classroom for more than five minutes to drop off a piece of paper. Mr. K took me right out of my shell into the blinding spotlight of the center stage.

Mr. Killeen started the class off with quick writes/writing prompts, then Show-Me-Writing, next was figurative language and the class went directly off of the charts from there. I am on summer break and I actually long to waltz through his class again, the crisp scent of toasty Starbucks buzzing through my nose. Anyway, man, woman, or child, if you desire to become an astonishing author or you just want to find your words trek on over to Mr. Sean Killeen's and you could become the next John Green.

P.S. I wish you the best of luck publishing. I am going to give it a whirl myself. Thank you for everything.