Skip to main content

Back to School - Five Highlights

Going back to school after a long vacation is always hard. For me the winter break is particularly challenging as it's one of the few times that all five of us are together. After the holidays are over and my daughters go back to the US, it takes a few days for me to adjust to that empty feeling that invariably engulfs me wherever I turn. However, this year, I've been able to manage the shift from being with family 24/7 and no alarm clocks to spending most of my time with students and getting up early by hiding out in my classroom. Before you tisk tisk my decision, let me say that it has helped me transition back into the routine of school life. I have had two good days with my students and we have accomplished important work.

Here's a list of the top five highlights of these past two days in no particular order:
  1. My 7th graders have started reading their books for our Mock Newberry Award. The teacher librarian at my school and I chose 15 books for my students to read. So far, the response has been great. I can't wait to listen in on some of the conversations my students will be having over the next few weeks about these books.
  2. My 7th graders are writing about their One Little Word (OLW) to be published on their newly minted blogs next week. This is my second year doing OLW and my first with my students. I will be writing about my own OLW, soon. So far, my students are choosing great words to help them focus their year. My 6th graders will be working on their OLWs tomorrow.
  3. My 6th graders started a mini research project about Ancient Egypt. They started out with a question and then added more related questions using the 5W's. They are taking notes on index cards, noting sources, and verifying information that they find. I will be writing about this process, soon. I am looking forward to their presentations about what they learned.
  4. I ran into one of my ESL students from last year who wanted to share that he finished Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. I had started reading this book with my ESL students last year but we weren't able to finish the book. It was a challenging read for my students and it was taking a very long time to read aloud. So, we put the book down and students who were interested were encouraged to read it independently. Of course, this encounter made my day!
  5. I had lunch today with one of my colleagues. It was nice catching up after the break. We went to a nearby sandwich shop, had a delicious lunch, and relaxed.
Not bad for two days of school! 

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Teacher I Want to Be

The
I have been dismayed to realize that despite my self-image as a teacher with a learner centered classroom, I am far from truly achieving that goal. 

I have been listening carefully to myself lately, and I don't like what I hear myself saying to the kids. Instead of empowering my students to take ownership of their learning, I am still the director on the stage. I still ask leading questions rather than ones that push the learner to figure things out for herself. I realize I often spoon feed my students hopeful that they will give me the answer I'm looking for. An answer that will make my job easier. Answers that will fit with what I expect students to say despite the fact that 30 years in education has taught me nothing if not that students are unpredictable, and if we prepare for anything, that is what we should be prepared for. 
Teacher
An anecdote. The other day I was talking with a student about the fact that she was abandoning more books than she was finishing. I was as…

Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…