Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Completely Transform Your Teaching

The other day I was speaking with a teacher friend and she shared some amazing advice with me. I knew this was way too important to keep to myself... so I decided to share!

She was talking with a professor who asked her, "Would a surgeon continue the same practices year after year, even if a new technique or strategy was discovered?" Then she turned it to us. "Should teachers continue the same practices year after year, even if a new technique or strategy is discovered?" I think the answer is obvious. We don't want teachers that never change how they teach! But many argue {including me!} it's impossible to be an effective teacher when you're also changing your teaching practice every year. Getting into the "groove" and perfecting your organizational system takes time and is an important part of being a productive teacher. After your first 3-5 years, teachers tend to get into a routine and many refuse to change their practice. Or some change it every year. Neither option is going to bode well when it comes to long term teaching.

But then, an interesting idea was brought up. We teachers can't do everything every year. But we CAN make small changes. What if teachers chose one topic to focus on every year. One subject to overhaul through research and application in their classroom? It may not make much difference at first, but can you imagine 10 years later? Your teaching would never grow stale or boring because it would be changing 10% every year. In 10 years, 100% of your teaching style will have changed. And with very little stress or effort on your part.

Obviously each class will be different, so you'll have to make adjustments for that, and you'll have your school wide studies that will change and impact your teaching. But I really believe that by choosing a focus each year - you will be able to simply and continually be an effective educator.

Have you done anything like this before? Do you believe this could make a difference? Please share your thoughts in the comments! I would love to know what you think!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Life with a Co Teacher // GIVEAWAY!

Martina Cahill, from The Hungry Teacher, and I met nearly four years ago... but I feel as if we've known each other for a life time! The first day we met, she stopped by the school so we could meet each other. My principal was like, "Hey! You're getting a student teacher next year." And my jaw dropped because this was the first I had heard of it. But a teacher does whatever their principal tells them to, so I introduced her to our class (I was looping up with them) and she sat with our sweet Stewart and listened to him read to her for like an hour. It was really only 5 minutes in all actuality. But Stewart was not an easy student and so when she survived 5 minutes,  I knew she was a keeper.

Little did I know how life changing having her as a student teacher would be. First of all - I had only been in the classroom for 2 years before she came and taught with me. Ummmmm - do you know any 2nd year teacher that has their shit together? I'm sure there are some... but I was far from one of them. But having Martina in my classroom made me explain and justify every little thing we did. Why do I do word study like that? Welllllll.... {and into my hour long explanation I would go}. Working with Martina challenged me to think and explain more than I ever had as a teacher and I became a much stronger teacher because of it.

Typical day
I am also one of the most unorganized teachers known to mankind. Piles ontop of piles. Always. Martina changed this. She is uber organized and when she wasn't sure what to do, she would start going through my piles, my binders, and our books, and organize the crud out of our classroom. It was magical. {ANY FUTURE STUDENT TEACHERS, TAKE NOTE!} And I don't think I've ever felt so calm in the classroom {Acts of Service is totally my Love Language}.

Martina isn't just amazing for her organizational skills though. She also is a bombdiggity teacher. Seriously. Just take a look at her blog, or Instagram, and you'll know this in a heart beat. Her love for teaching is contagious... and I think my favorite thing about her is that she's not afraid to laugh at herself, or her students, when something is really funny. I think that her ability to be human while teaching is one of the reasons students and I love her so dang much. She is never once in a bad mood {it's impressive} and she loves and works harder than so many teachers. She's one of the good ones.

So please take a second to stop by her blog and enter her amaaaazing giveaway! Seriously. It's ridiculously bombdiggity and includes ALLLLLL of my favorite items!!

Thanks for stopping by and listening to me brag about one of my faves!
What experiences have you all had with co teachers and student teachers? Please share in the comments!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekly Inspiration

It's the perfect weekend for smiling :)

Save this background to your phone and set it as your background!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What Are Mentor Texts and How Can You Use Them?

Are you teaching writing with mentor texts to study and imitate writers? If not, be sure to read below - you're going to want to make sure you start ASAP because they make teaching writing so much more simple! And if you are using them - what would add to this list? Comment below!

The Raft


More on Writing Conferences

Wondrous Words

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Weekly Inspiration for Your Phone

 An oldie but goodie...
Save this image to your phone and set it as your wallpaper!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Making a Mother's Day Gift That's Also Educational

It's almost Mother's Day (May 8th!) and with that being said, it's time to plan a great classroom Mother's Day gift! My favorite gift involves some educational activities too!

Truffula Trees from The Lorax!
If you're doing gifts, why not tie in Earth Day and Mother's Day? I love to read The Lorax and then plant "Truffula Seeds" for the moms (or grandmas or dads!) You can read more about what I've done in the past, here. It's a great time to discuss our impact on the environment and what we can do to be better to our Mother Nature.

We plant some seeds in order to get more plants and flowers into the world! Some fast growing seeds include sunflowers, daisies, or zinnias. They typically sprout within 5-7 days (!!!!). I buy cheap pots, some acrylic paint, seeds, and soil to prepare. Then, I spend a day decorating and painting the pots with my students. The next day we plant our seeds in their pots using the soil and whichever seeds I've chosen!

Using my Plant Power lesson plans, students track the growth of their plant. From there we'll spend a few weeks measuring the growth, and the mean, median, and mode of the plant's height. It always helps my kiddos get more comfortable with these important math ideas and it's fun! Be sure to order your supplies (via Amazon Prime) this week in order to have flowers by Mother's Day!

Monday, April 11, 2016

How To Convert Your Fake Writers Into Real Writers

A few weeks ago I blogged about How to Spot Fake Writers. But once you spot them, it doesn't mean much until you know what to do about it. So here are some simple ways you can move your student from a fake writer to a real writer!

They may need frequent writing conferences and support... but it's a great start!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weekly Inspiration // Change It

It's nearing the end of the school year and that means it's time to plan what you want to do differently next year. It shouldn't be much... but what change do you want to see? Start planning it now in order to make it happen next year!

Save this phone wallpaper to your phone and set it as your background in order to enjoy it all week long!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How to Demystify the Writing Process for Students

It's important to model how to tie your shoes, when your kids are learning. It's important to model how to brush your teeth, when you're learning. As writing teachers, we have a huge responsibility to model writing. Modeling writing during Writer's Workshop supports your students in ways that just "telling them" will never do. Here are the top reasons that modeling will pay off in dividends!

Why and how does modeling help your writers? I'd love to know - please share in the comments!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekly Inspiration

It's Spring! It's Spring! Let your phone wallpaper shout it from the mountaintops!

Save this image to your phone and set it as your wallpaper to enjoy for the week!