Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Teachers working together

As the science lead teacher for my grade level, it is my goal to make sure my team learns everything tey can about Science instruction. This week, we had a Science TDE (temporary duty elsewhere). On these days, we get subs for our classroom so that we can meet as a team for professional development. Our day began with a great demo lesson from one of our fellow teachers. The lesson included just the engage and explore phase of the 5 E's for Science.

Then we went back to the conference room and debriefed the lesson. Then as a team, we wrote the rest of the lesson plan for that benchmark. Our next step was to review the components of the 5E's and discuss how that fits into a workshop model. We spent the rest of our time, taking the 2nd 9 weeks Essential Questions and writing 5E plans to go with them. The best part of the day was that the teachers were able to spend time collaborating with each other creating lessons that each of them had ownership in. What more could we ask for!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teachable Moments

Have you ever had a time when something just happened by chance and you realize that WOW...that would be great for the kids to learn. Well that has been my experience this week. On Friday, I adopted a new stray kitten found outside my classroom. He had a sister but a friend took her. Our new addition is about 4 weeks old and his name is Rafiki. When I shared this with the kids they were ecstatic. I realized that documenting his life cycle would be a great learning experience for all of them. Many kids don't have kittens or have ever seen a kitten this young. Each week or so I will post new information on our class blog about how Rafiki is growing and changing and taking pictures all the while. I think the kids will learn more from this real life experience than any book could teach them.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Each month we complete a board outside our classroom. This is our Standards Based Bulletin Board. A standards board is where work that meets the "standard" is displayed. The teacher includes what standard the work meets, a task to explain what the work entails, work samples, and commentary. Our first standards board was a math board that included Patterns as our work sample. Here are some pictures of our board. (If you click on the individual picture it will enlarge).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Have you ever done a glog?

Last year our technology specialist at Chets introduced me to a glog. You may be asking the same thing I did at that time - What is a glog? If you haven't ever seen one - they have a wide range of uses. One of the best things I have learned is how to use it as a teaching tool. On a glog you can use pictures that you have downloaded personally, add text, link to other websites, add video, and just about any other thing you can think of. My goal this year is to create a glog for each Science Big Idea we will be studying in Kindergarten. Feel free to check out our class glogs. Once on the glog, any area that becomes circled in red is a link to another site. Each glog will be posted on our class blog so that parents will be able to access it with their children at home. Try something new and create a glog for your class - I promise the kids will love it.

Plants All Around
What is a Scientist?
5 Senses

Monday, September 7, 2009

In the Swing of Things...

Yes, the first crazy couple weeks are behind us and we are getting into a good routine. The students have learned all about the different workshops and the different parts of our day. It is always hard to come back to Kindergarten after looping a class to 1st grade. They are so grown up by the time they leave us to go to 2nd grade that we forget how young those little ones are when they began.

This last week was busy as we began Star Names, Star Book Vocabulary, and our nursery rhyme unit in our Skills Block. In Reader's Workshop we are beginning to learn how to retell stories we have been listening to. This week our focus was on Caps for Sale (one of our favorites). In Writer's Workshop we are learning how to tell stories to each other about all the great things we have done (such as going to the beach). In Math we finished our diagnostic testing and learned all about different manipulative's. Science has been great as we learned that science is the world around us. We also learned about Scientists through out What is a Scientist glog. We have been learning about each other's families in Social Studies which we have enjoyed sharing with new friends.

As you can see, our Kindergartners are busy learning every day. Day #11 - here we come!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The First Day is Here!

The summer is over and our rooms are once again transformed into a new and exciting place to learn. We had a great orientation on Friday with many parents and children showing up. The kids are excited and nervous of course. Tomorrow we will have a busy day as we get to know one another, practice all those expectations for class, work on fire/tornado drills, and are treated to a performance from a band. The first day at Chets Creek is always a great beginning for teachers and students.

Here are some pictures of our classroom this year. I hope that you stay in touch with our blog as we journey through another year.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back to Work

The start of school is always an exciting time. This year our theme is a Orchestrating a Symphony of Success. Each grade level is a different genre of music with Kindergarten as Country Music. As I go into school this week (even though we don't officially start until the 17th) you can tell that the teachers at our school are motivated and ready to transform our school into a magical place. Some of them having been working prior to this week getting their rooms in order. Some, such as myself, have tried to squeeze every last minute of summer in with the kids.

Each year we are welcomed back from our principal with a letter. I am always excited to see what the presentation of the letter will look like and how it will be based around the direction and theme of our school for the year. Yesterday we received our welcome back in the form of an invitation to a new wiki. Our principal has set up a school based wiki that has a video clip to welcome us along with all the important paperwork that is usually given to us on the first day (this falls right into line with our school trying to decrease the amount of paper and keep as much as possible electronic). What a fabulous way to house all important information for the year. I am already excited to think about how easy it will be to find and access important links, schedules, faculty info, etc.

This year I am back to being a single teacher. Although I love co-teaching it is nice to be by myself again. I look forward to an great year with a new group of children. I hope you enjoy our new journey with us this year.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What happened to the time ???

After a month of not posting I found myself questioning what happened the last couple weeks of school that kept me too busy to be writing. I am sure your last month of school is just like ours. So much paperwork! Getting the kids every last minute of teaching time possible. Making sure cum folders are all set. Putting together portfolios. Grades, grades, and final grades. Flag retirement (check out our class blog to see our own Julia singing the National Anthem). Sometime in there we also want to find those last moments to share with them and build memories. This year, our awards ceremony was great. We sang Celene Dion's song "Because you Loved Me" in sign language to our parents. We also sang a fun song about summer. We had our great awards where everyone in our class earned their Reader's to Leaders pin for the first time this year. Our ceremony ended with a movie that highlighted our year (oh yeah...that is where a lot of my time went!) Our afternoon was filled with a great field day hosted by our PE teachers with support from many parent volunteers and other staff. It was hot but it was fun.

Now the year is complete. The room is cleaned and packed up - ready for summer school. This year our school will be hosting summer school and many classrooms throughout the building are being used. Of course, there is still always work to be done over the break. Cleaning out files, professional reading, and getting ready for the next school year.

As far as our theme next year - it is always a surprise until the last day of school. You can check it out at the Chets Creek Travel Guide.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Time for Reflection

Every year as we approach the end of the school year, we are asked to reflect on ourselves and our teaching practices. This may not seem important to some people but for myself it is an important part of who I am. When I was a younger teacher I would try to keep a journal and write reflections in it once a week. I always tried to keep one positive and one negative about what happened. Of course my life became busier as my children became older and the journal slowly slipped away. About that time I was going through my National Board Certification. WOW - now that is really a time for reflection. Since then, I have taken on many more responsibilities through the years along with teaching full time. One of my favorite roles is coaching. I love to mentor and coach science. This time of year we are making reflections about our coaching strengths and weaknesses. Those answers don't come as easily for me as do my individual teaching reflections since coaching impacts others than myself. How have I helped teachers find effective ways to teach science? What impact am I making to each grade level I coach? What do my teammates need from me to become stronger in science content? What do I need to do to strengthen our K-5 team? What am I going to do to make the work deeper next year? Today I may not know all the answers to these questions but I know that they will be the center of my goals as we begin to think about next year. I know that being a teacher truly is about continuing to be a life long learner- isn't that is what reflections are all about!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Visit from Leslie Helakoski

Each year we are blessed to have a guest author visit our school. This year it was Leslie Helakoski. Lucky for us, we were able to celebrate two of her books in the last couple months.

In March we had Big Chickens as our Book of the Month. What a great story about these four chickens that are scared of everything until the end of the story when they become four brave chickens once they had chased off the wolf. This is a story that many children can relate to since they too may feel like a big chicken when they are doing something new. You can see our class conclusion of this story in Big Chickens - the Untold Story. In April our principal chose the book Woolbur. This is a story about a sheep who is not like any other sheep. Woolbur has his own way of doing things! His parents worry even though grandpa continues to tell them not to. By the end of the story, Woolbur is leading the flock and therefore not so different. This is a great book for anyone who has never fit into the "flock" and has his/her own way of doing things.

Throughout the day, Leslie talked to each grade level about her life as an author. The first graders learned about the struggles and triumphs she has had as an author and an illustrator. She discussed how the first publishers loved her work but hated her illustrations but she has never given up. She continues to write, edit, and learn through each book. She also engaged all the children as she read both of our Book of the Months aloud. At the end of the day, kids were allowed to have personal books signed by Leslie herself.

We hope that Ms. Helakoski enjoyed our school as much as we enjoyed her!

As the end approaches...

At Chets Creek the end of the year is crazy as I am sure it is for all teachers. There are many things we do to help us and our children prepare for the last couple weeks and get ready for the next year. Recently our first grade team met with a group of second grade teachers to review what they do at the beginning of the year. This helps us make sure that our kids are as prepared for the upcoming year as much as possible. We look at things like assessment practices, skills block, math strategies, etc. We are also required to complete a Work over Time Standards Board. This board contains at least one students' work from August to April that shows his/her growth in an academic area. This year we chose to put up two students work that reflects their writing growth. It always amazes me to see how much they have grown (Especially when I have had them since Kindergarten)! Over the next couple weeks we will be reviewing and completing portfolios, finishing our academic goals, and assessing the students on our end of the year diagnostic for reading and math. Only 34 more days....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First Grader's Reader's Theatre

Last week our class finished our Kevin Henkes celebration with a Reader's Theatre for our parents. We hope you enjoy some of the highlights.

Untitled from dayle timmons on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kevin Henkes Comes to an End

After many weeks we have just finished our Kevin Henkes author study. What a great unit for our students as they have learned how to do detailed Response to Literature writing. Throughout this unit, the students have learned how to think about characters, identify story elements, complete detailed retellings, and respond with connections. Our unit ended with a grand celebration - Kevin Henkes style. We had outside games, Kevin Henkes Jeopardy, time at a Lightbulb Lab (we made purple plastic purses, movie star glasses, and decorated shiny quarters), and a Kevin Henkes movie with popcorn. For pictures of our exciting day and a look at our work, check out our class blog.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is 50th Good for Any Child?

The right action of all of us is made up of the right action of each one of us. Unless each of us is determined to meet the duty that comes to us, we can have no right to expect that others will meet the duties that come to them.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

No one can deny that we are living in trying times. All around the country, our friends, relatives and acquaintances are suffering. On Monday, your friend was laid off. Last Friday, you heard about your relatives living without power and water as their homes are buried in ice. Two weeks ago, your neighbor left with his unit for a tour in Iraq. Your spouse is worried about their job security. Discount stores are advertising entire store clearance sales. We are all hurting in some way. If we are not yet hurting, we are just waiting for it to trickle down to our house, our job, our bank account. We know it is coming.

Your child’s school is not immune.

Duval County expects to suffer from a $150 million budget deficit for the 2009-2010 academic year. All the facts tell us there is NO WAY to “trim the fat” and balance this budget crisis without affecting the classroom. In short, your child's school will suffer.

Guidance and Media services could be reduced!
Valuable resources like Art, Music and PE may be cut!
Essential supplies and materials could disappear altogether!

It is important to understand that this problem, this CRISIS, is not limited to Duval County alone. This fiscal crisis is statewide. The state of Florida was ranked 47th out of 50 states in tax revenue prior to the passing of Amendment One, which served to further reduce our state taxes. Regarding the total amount of funds allocated and spent on education, the state of Florida is ranked 50th in the nation. I ask you, does this represent your priorities? I doubt it.

Article IX, Section I of the Florida Constitution guarantees that:

"The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida."

"It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for … a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education …."

Are our legislators upholding the requirements of our state constitution?

As voters, we share a heavy burden. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves with accurate facts. It is our responsibility to make our voices heard. It is our responsibility to act.
It is our responsibility to advocate for our children. It is our responsibility to fight for their rights, for today and for their future. If not us, then who? If we do not meet our duties, we cannot expect others to meet theirs.

I urge you. Educate yourselves. Research the facts. Go to the source. Ask questions. Speak out. Make demands. Do not accept it as fact because others believe it to be true.

Ask yourself, is 50th good enough for your child?

If the answer is NO - contact our state's legislative delegation and ask for immediate help from one of these short term solutions:

1. One cent increase to the sales tax of Florida for just 3 years. It generates ten billion dollars over 3 years to plug the education funding cuts!

2. Please give flexibility to the school districts in the areas of categoricals, (SAI, Class Size, Instruction Materials, Reading, Safe Schools).

3. Please suspend unfunded mandates on the districts. (Examples: Transportation, Testing & Curriculum Requirements, Safety Nets, and Staffing Requirements.)

4. Please give flexibility of capital funds—so they can be used for General Revenue.

Ask them to find long term solutions to the critical funding situation in Florida and urge them to make public education a priority so that even our children's children can benefit from a right guaranteed them by our state constitution!

Monday, February 9, 2009

First Grader's New Favorite Author

Last week we began our new author study on Kevin Henkes. If you don't know this author, then you must check out his books to find out why first graders and teachers love him so much. Last week we began by reading one of my favorite books - Chrysanthemum. Our study began by making connections to this book and writing about these connections. Over the next 4 weeks we will continue to read many of his stories, write connections, discuss his books and characters, and complete retellings. We will learn to respond to literature in many ways. Below is a list of some of the books we will be reading throughout the study:
* Owen
* Julius the Baby of the World
* Wemberly Worried
* Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse
* Lilly's Big Day
* Sheila Rae, The Brave
* Chester's Way
* A Weekend With Wendell
* Jessica

Check out more books by Kevin Henkes. Watch for samples of student work!

Monday, February 2, 2009

First Graders - they are always so busy!

WOW...what a busy couple weeks for our first graders. Last week we had our annual First Grade Sleepover. We spent our time reading and writing about sleepovers! Our annual event happened on Friday and what a success it was. Check out the slide show on our class blog.

Today we celebrated out 100th day of school. Another great academic day centered around the number 100! We had lots of activities and a visit from Zero the Hero. We learned so much about life 100 years ago.

Now it is on to something new - our Kevin Henkes author study. We can't wait to show you everything we will learn.

Monday, January 26, 2009

First Grade Sleepover

Say the word "sleepover" to any first grader this week at Chets Creek and you will see their eyes light up! That is because one of our longest traditions is our First Grade Sleepover. You might be asking "Do they really let them spend the night?" No! But the kids don't care. Prior to the actual day, we begin by having the kids make a teddy bear at home. Yes, a stuffed teddy bear. Sure we have children who aren't able to make one due to family situations, but we have parents and teachers who will help them make one of their own. During this time, we begin reading fiction books about Sleepovers. Our favorite is Ira Sleeps Over. In Reader's Workshop we work on story mapping, comprehension strategies, and reader's responses. In Writer's Workshop, we review functional writing (how to make a teddy bear is always popular) and narrative writing. The students love to make up stories about sleepovers. We also love to do fun crafts during this time such as decorating paper pajamas or teddy bear glyphs. Finally the big Sleepover day arrives. Students and teachers come dressed in their pj's and slippers. We begin with our Teddy Bear Parade where we walk around the school showing off their bears that were made by the students. We end in our cafeteria with a pancake breakfast and a slide show of all the students. Then we have centers such as Bear Square Dancing, make book covers for their narrative stories, have a scavenger hunt, etc. During the afternoon, each class is invited into the media center for a "Sleepover Party". There we dance with the lights off, watch a movie and eat popcorn, and listen to great stories. It is the highlight of the day. Before we know it, the day is over and everyone is exhausted. For me, sleepover is more than just a fun day. It is a day of memories for both myself and my two children (Now 15 and 13). My kids still have the bears we made when they were in first grade and can even remember dancing at the "Sleepover Party". I only hope that these memories stay with all the kids who walk through our doors each day as they share in our traditions. Make sure you check back next week to see highlights from our First Grade Sleepover on Jan. 30th.

Monday, January 5, 2009

7 Things No One Knows About Me

Here it goes - I've been tagged to share 7 things no one knows.

1. I love to take pictures - of anything, but especially of my kids and the beach! My best Christmas present this year was my new digital that replaces my old SLR.
2. I played the flute, piccolo, and piano up until 10th grade.
3. I decided I wanted to major in Special Education after sitting in Dr. Mercer's class at University of Florida. Yes, the Dr. Mercer of Great Leaps Reading Program. He inspired me more than I ever have been in my life. Once we were in his upper classes he would take all of us out for pizza because he felt that it was only fair since we had to buy his book for the class. He was a great teacher.
4. I took jazz and ballet classes from middle school up through the day I graduated high school.
5. My two worst classes in high school were Honors Chemistry and AP Physics (especially Physics!). I'm amazed I came to love science as much as I do.
6. One of my first paid jobs was being the perfume lady at JCPenny's. My mom worked there and got me a job when I was 16 years old. I would work one Sat. a month for 4 hours (couldn't take it longer than that) and ask people if they wanted to try a new perfume. I made $6 an hour!
7. I always wanted to work with kids. So when I was 14 I started volunteering at the daycare right by my house during the summer. Each day I would go in and help with anything they needed. I worked almost every day for two summers - free of charge.