Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate!

I enjoyed these chapters so much.. I plan on copying a few of the pages to put in my planner to help when creating lessons. What great motivation to use kinesthetics, People props and Safari hooks. I think the safari hook will be most useful for my students.. change in scenery but not change in pace. I also believe the kinesthetic hook will work wonders for my students. 

I am so blessed to work in a building with a courtyard where many plants and animals live and interact. I need to work to incorporate lessons in the courtyard more into my curriculum. My school is very small (we are only prek-2). This is a very attainable goal.

I am finding that during conversations with my co-workers that things they have difficulty with are a lot of the concepts that Dave talks about in this book. Once I finish, I will be passing this book to my co-workers. I really think that EVERYONE should be reading this!! 

Much Love,

Jackie : )


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate... I NEED TO CATCH UP!

Friday was my last day of school for the year and the celebrations began! I celebrated with my amazing co-workers after the last bus on Friday... My very best friend (who I am sooo lucky to be her Matron of Honor) joined the 30 year old club and we celebrated all Saturday and Sunday I celebrated my friend Megan becoming a mom as well as visiting family. So I am a little behind..

This is technically my first week of summer break, and I signed up for training that is full day Mon-Fri this week. Certainly not how I pictured my first week, but I guess you could say.. I'm learning how to teach science LIKE A PIRATE!

So since I have been beyond busy, I am going to lump my 2 cents  combine posts for the last few chapters that I have missed to catch myself up. Hopefully after this week of training, I can get my act together!

Chapter 5 Transformation:

     Dave starts this chapter discussing how monotony and soul-killing suckiness seem to describe a typical school day. I feel that I have tried my hardest to keep some monotony because students with disabilities thrive in a setting that is predictable.. I believe the lessons should be UNPREDICTABLE. I have the same feelings as Dave does when he says, "I want my class to stand out in a sea of sameness that is the educational landscape." I want the kids in my class to be "noticed" and "recognized" as part of a fun prestigious class in the building who is always learning, growing and constantly buzzing about what we are doing in our room.
Question 1: If your students didn't have to be there would you be teaching in an empty room? I think that some of my students would be there. Although the fact that students not being there at this age solely lands on the hands of the parent, this isn't too much an option. I mean a 7 year old doesn't really have the option to stay home. In fact MOST of my kids want to be in school, but parents don't have transportation or "mom didn't get up" are frequent excuses.
Question 2: Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for? YES!! This question correlates with what I tell my student teachers... you are putting on a show all day long for 7 year olds. I do need to work on being able to sell tickets for EACH lesson I teach, but I feel like I have a few very fun and exciting lessons that I LOVE to teach.. that I would in fact sell tickets!

Chapter 6 Enthusiasm:

     I think in most part this year was one of my best years teaching because I was enthusiastic about being there and teaching more than I ever have been. It is easier to be more enthusiastic about teaching when you have a good group of students and I had an amazing class of children. Incorporating my passion of Disney into my classroom. I agree with Dave 100% that you have more buy-in with students when you are over the top excited and completely enthusiastic about what you are teaching. Even if it is just the way you speak and pretend like what you are doing is the best thing these kids will EVER do. This entire chapter is what I try to bring out in my student teachers: You are putting on a "show".. what will your "show" look like? You don't want to be dull and boring to watch.. you want to SELL TICKETS!

Chapter 7 The Third Circle:

     I love the Venn Diagram Dave has used in this chapter. I think that the way a lesson is delivered plays and equal or greater role in how much information students retain.  I have seen many lessons from myself and student teachers that start off interesting and quickly become just a "regular" lesson. The Third Circle is probably the most difficult for me in the world where every observation hinges on my ability to teach explicit instruction. One of my goals for the upcoming school year is to find a way to still explicitly teach to make the "grade" on my APPR but still including a unique design to lessons to keep students engaged. I love the analogy of serving students a FULL meal for each lesson. I like how Dave describes simple ways to "up" the presentation with things as simple as turning the lights off or playing soft music. I will definitely be revisiting this chapter because Dave provides simple suggestions to help aid with the transitioning during lessons to avoid losing engagement!

Much Love!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ask & Analyze Chapter 4

This book keeps getting better and better! Chapter 4 was my most favorite thus far. I could identify with a lot of things Dave discusses in this chapter. I completely identify with the story about purchasing a new car. That happened to me when I bought my Toyota.. all of a sudden Toyota's popped up all over! I could also identify with the story about the boy drowning in the water.. I love that story! In the movie the Pursuit of Happiness, Will Smith's son tells this story at the very end. It's a great story. I can also connect with the fact that I need to get better at writing my ideas down as soon as I get them.. I get ideas on the go all the time. I NEVER WRITE THEM DOWN! When I do actually sit down to work, I most certainly do not remember them.. that gets annoying fast.

I also identified with the section on failure. Most recently I was teaching EVEN and ODD numbers. I had this great video I found on YouTube to show the kids and we looked at patterns, but they still didn't get it! I was getting so frustrated they weren't getting it, because I couldn't really get a better way for them to understand adding two even numbers will forever and always give you an even number. This lesson was crashing and burning bad!!! So to somehow save myself.. I came up with a rap.. yes OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.. to help them just simply memorize even + even = even, odd + odd= even, even + odd = odd. They were able to memorize this and we moved on. As the week went on, I continuously explained the rap and had them say it and then I'd explain again. I am proud to say this saved my failure.. this rarely happens and I was glad to say I was able to save us! My kids love music and so I figured I would try the rap to help them!

Thanks to Dave I will continue to ask and analyze ways to create lessons to be engaging to students. Asking open-ended questions and forcing myself to be honest is a new goal for me. I am excited to start looking at things from a new angle!

       Much Love,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Made It

Now all of you that are on summer break have been doing this for a while... I however still have 4 days (today counts because I'm up!) till the end of the year!! I probably won't be able to post for another few Mondays, but I couldn't NOT share this post with all of you. I have been sooooooooooo beside myself with excitement and anticipation because well friends.. I'm officially a Disney dork!

My classroom is Disney Themed and this year I started to make some things, but now I have a better idea of what I have and what I want in my classroom. So I began to work.. I have these yellow book boxes that I got when I bought an entire case of folders from Office Max last year.

I decided I couldn't wait any longer to remake these things into something better and more my classroom theme! So I spray painted them black.. Used some red duct tape and put a two yellow dots and........

Tadaaaaa!! Mickey Book Boxes! This matches my theme perfectly for next year, as I continue to revamp my things! The duct tape reinforces the bottom since these are only made of cardboard. I can't wait to check out everyone else has been making all summer! I will definitely be lining up my projects for my time in the sun on my patio : )

Much Love! Jackie

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Chapter 3 Rapport

Rapport is a crucial aspect of my classroom. I know each and every child's favorite color by the end of the first week (we do a lot of illustrating) I know their parents names, things they enjoy doing and find that using this all year long is very important. I do have to say that I didn't realize how important these things were until I started hosting student teachers in my classroom.

I am always a very vibrant, loud, and by the time I go home, exhausted teacher. When I would evaluate some of my student teachers, their lessons were good solid lessons with content, but lacked in emotion. I couldn't find the words to describe what I do is different than what they do. I searched for the words to try to get them to be more excited about what they were doing and to "have fun" with it. Those words simply do not do teaching justice. Teaching to me is about absolutely loving what you do so much that it "infects" those around you... like Dave's first three days of classes, those students can't help but get sucked in! After a few more weeks of my first student teacher performing lessons that were good in content, but lacking in intensity; I finally found the words to describe what I am doing.

It's showtime! From 8-3 I am putting on a show for children age 7. You have to be exciting, mysterious, fun, silly, scary.. and even more to engage a 7 year old for 6+ hours a day. It was the only thing that made sense to me because "having fun" with teaching certainly doesn't describe what I do.

Another thing that Dave mentions is Behavior Management and how when a student is engaged, they are less of a behavior. I can attest to that to some degree. My classroom is a self-contained classroom. I see students who are there because of medical reasons such as ADHD, Autism, Intellectual Disabilities, Learning Disabilities and so on. The list of things that are working against my students is endless. There have been few instances where I was literally popping balloons for students and they were completely disengaged. Dave then mentions that when you make things a contest, you create "buy-in". This is where my buy-in comes into play. When I have kids in my classroom that no matter how outrageous my lessons are, they just aren't into it.. I offer incentives. Kids age 7 will work for almost anything.. even a single starburst! I allow my students to earn pennies for being on task and participating where they can "shop" in the Prize box after they earn 10. I also use "silent sparklers" in my classroom where the class votes on a snack and they work to fill a jar to earn it. This year we had chips and salsa, jello with whipped cream, and fruit salad. I also use group points when working in groups. Each table is a different Disney Character and those tables earn points for collaborative and supportive working arrangements. The group with the most points at the end of the week receives lunch with me. They are my "Movie Stars of the Week". This creates a huge buy-in, in the world of a 7 year old.

My students also get to know me.. my life outside the room. We share stories about what we ate for dinner the night before, what we watched on tv, who we visited. I love getting to know the person, not just the student.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

End of the Year Celebration!

I typically try to hold my end of year celebration the friday before the last week of school. I invite parents to attend the celebration as well. I was so very excited this year because I added some new items to my award ceremony than in previous years. Let me start off with what I usually do...

Every year at the beginning of the school year, I have my students make boxes from Really Good Stuff. They sit on top of their cubbies all year long... The kids ask me all year long when they can take them home and every time my answer is the last day of school. So I take those boxes and fill them with little erasers, pencils, crayons, a note from me, kool-aid packets, and chalk. I then tie a ribbon on them to make it like a present. I give these out with a certificate for the completion of grade 2. Then I take all of the data collection I have on students and they get awards for Reading Fluency achievement, Math achievement, Writing achievement, attendance, homework, and effort.

This year I decided to use the adorable candy bar awards I found on TPT.  These were a huge hit with my kids as they got candy to go with their awards!! I also got a few giggles : ) I love when they laugh!! I also made a video montage of photos I took all year from field trips and other things we did together. I also had to include our favorite song: Call Me Maybe!

We had a great time celebrating our end of the year after all the award giving with cookies and juice : ) How do you celebrate with your littles? I have 5 more days left and I couldn't be more excited because that means my VACATION is almost here!!!

Much Love <3


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Arghhhh you a Pirate? Chapter 2 Immersion

In this chapter of the book, Immersion is meant to be to completely surrender yourself to your content and classroom. I feel like I try to do this, but it is incredibly difficult to rid your mind of STATE TESTS, DATA COLLECTION, DOCTORS APPOINTMENTS, ERRANDS, and everything else life throws at us teachers. There really is NEVER enough time, and as a teacher, your job is never really done. Dave is right though.. it is sooooo very important to completely surrender your attention to what you are doing in the classroom. You need to be there mentally and physically with your students. I have found the most engaging and memorable lessons are when I am physically doing the activity with the kids! I think they enjoy it more as well. Immersion is key to being successful : )  I think Dave did an excellent job relating this chapter to immersing yourself in water as a swimmer. I can definitely relate to that. How do you immerse yourself with your students? Sound off below and jump in on the book study with one of my very best friends!!

Much Love!!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate: Passion

"Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things." Denis Diderot

I am linking up with one of my very best friends for this book study.. and while I am still 8 days away from the end of my tunnel summer vacation, I am already thinking about next year and what I can do differently to be more engaging to students. 
Chapter 1: Passion
There are 3 different kinds of passion described in Chapter 1. 
Content Passion
Professional Passion
Personal Passion

Dave asks "Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?" 
Well I am most passionate about teaching science. I love watching children "doing" learning. I think that is most fun to me when they click with it. I have also a great passion for literature based lessons. I love connecting EVERYTHING to a book. I absolutely love reading books and sharing stories with my students. Students remember the stories and activities they did when reading together. 

Dave asks "Within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?"
I absolutely love my students. Spending time with them and listening to their stories is rewarding for me. They come in each day telling me how much they love me and what a great teacher I am. I love their laughter. I can't count how many hugs and giggles I get from my students everyday. I love spending time with them and they love coming to my class. That is what makes teaching most rewarding!

Dave asks "Completely outside of your profession, what are you passionate about?"
For me, this is a long list of things! I am very passionate about my family. I love spending time with my husband and my puppy. I take entirely way too many pictures of my dog, but he's just so cute! I also love sports- baseball and football.. and because my husband is overly passionate about hockey.. that too! I also am very passionate about DISNEY! I love going to Disney World. It truly is the happiest place on Earth (for me). I have incorporated all of these into my classroom this year. My classroom is Disney themed.. I am immediately happier when I am there just because of the decorations and such in my room. I also share simple stories about my husband and my pup. The kids love hearing silly stories about my puppy and they love when I can connect my personal life with a lesson. They are immediately more engaged even if it is just using them in a story problem for math. 

Dave connects teaching to being a pirate. Being daring and courageous to enter into uncharted territories. He is absolutely right. We use our passion to keep us going when days get long. We are willing to do whatever it takes! 

"Individuality of expression is the beginning and end of all art." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe