serafina20: (watchmen_redhead)
WordPress Article with picture.

So, I am done lesson planning for the day. I got all my Power Points done for the week and I was feeling spectacularly unmotivated to do any of them, so go me. In the past three days, I have driven over 600 miles and today I am feeling lazy and depressed and generally meh. But I don’t want to show up tomorrow and have no Power Points and therefore have to do everything by hand. I know from experience that I am a better teacher when I make the PowerPoints, especially for grammar. The grammar lessons from HM Journeys (our reading program) are thin, and really thinking through the lesson and organizing them ahead of time helps the students really get the material. So, they are done.

I just had a great few days. I drove home (300+ miles away) to visit my father for his retirement party. The part was organized by my brother and his wife, and it was great. we did a claims adjuster quiz (because my father was an insurance claims adjuster) and burned his business cards. We ate really good pizza and hung out and talked and it was a lot of fun. During the day, my Dad, sister and I went to Ruby’s on the pier for lunch. We didn’t see any dolphins (sad) but it was nice being at the beach and seeing the waves, getting cherry cokes and being with my dad.

And then, yesterday, as I was leaving for breakfast with my mom and dad, I got an e-mail from my bank saying that there were suspicious charges on my debit card. I called as soon as I got back and it turns out that someone stole my debit card info. Luckily, they only charged about $25 dollars worth of iTunes and the bank took the charges off when I called. I am also really grateful that they caught it so quickly, but it has left me with an icky feeling. Last night I dreamed that I came home and found my house utterly destroyed and everything stolen. It was just a dream, but I’m obviously feeling vulnerable and insecure about my belongings and things.

Tomorrow, I get to go back to my classroom after them having a sub for two days. I haven’t had a sub for more than a day for over a year, and that’s stressful enough. Did I leave enough work? Were my plans clear enough? Did they kids behave? Did the sub leave me notes to let me know how the day went? What am I going to have to make up? So many questions, so many things I can’t control.

Fingers crossed this will be an easy week. Red Ribbon week starts on Wednesday, but that’s not too hard. I am not participating in door decorating (where you decorate your door with anti-drug messages) because a. it’s a teacher-driven activity that doesn’t really involve the kids, b) I’m not artistic or crafty and my door always looks like crap and c) it’s a huge waste of time. I don’t think most of the other teachers will be doing door decoration either. So that makes Red Ribbon week easier. We do have fundraisers going on and this year the teachers are responsible for counting the money the students bring in. I am hoping my students don’t bring in any money because I am not good at handling money and it makes me nervous. My prediction is there will be lots of money for me to count because that’s just my luck.

But, easy week. And I’m feeling well enough to get back to the gym. I can start getting back into a routine before it’s all thrown off by parent conferences again.
serafina20: (dw_nine)
Today, one of my kids went to the bathroom during class. When he came back, he was clearly upset. I asked what was wrong, and he started crying. It was upper grade recess when he went and some of the older boys were yelling at him when he went into the bathroom. I asked if he knew who they were, but he didn’t.

So, I got down next to him and said something like, “I’m sorry that happened to you. It must have been scary very upsetting. But the thing is, those kids are not worth your time or your tears. Good, nice people, the people that we care about, do not yell at us for no reason and make us feel bad. The don’t try to make us think there’s something wrong with us. Because there isn’t. There isn’t anything wrong with you and you don’t deserve to be yelled at. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. So don’t worry about them. They aren’t worth it. Take a deep breath, let it out (because kids never let out the deep breath they took unless they’re told to) and forget them. Don’t let them ruin your day. You’ve got better things to do.”

And it seemed to work. He calmed down, stopped crying, and he started working. In a few minutes, he was smiling and laughing. Even better, when we started writing a few minutes later, he was actually eager to write. The prompt for this week is a fun time they had with a friend. I said they could sit near the friend they were writing about. This boy, who usually has to dictate his writing to me and then copy what I wrote, actually started writing. It was amazing!

It left me with a good feeling. I finally feel like I did something right.
serafina20: (Default)
Ever wonder why you lesson plan? Weeks like this, I do. I generally start lesson planning the Wednesday before. That way, but Friday, I’m done and I don’t have to worry about them over the weekend. This week, I had the bonus of doing sub plans for Thursday and Friday. I got everything done and copied by last Friday and was riding high.

Then, this week happened.

First, my math plans flew out the window. I’d planned to review and test the chapter on Monday and Tuesday, but the review and test weren’t ready. That was fine; there were two lessons in the chapter that weren’t tested, but could be taught. So I taught one. Then, the review and test were ready. That was better, because I could do the review today, test tomorrow, and the sub could do the easy lesson on repeated addition instead of the hard lesson on compensation that I had planned. Perfect. I revamped my plans, went to the sub plans, easy peasy.

Now, tomorrow morning instead of ELA, I’m doing the CPAA test (yeah, not). So that means my ELA plans are pushed back a day. Once again, I’ll have to dive to my sub plans and make adjustments. Only these adjustments will ripple into next week and testing and all that jazz. *sigh* If I just hadn’t done lesson plans, it would have been so much less work. But my district has us turn the lesson plans into the office every Monday, so I have to. I suppose I could have put off the sub planning until this week, but I wanted to make things easier for myself this week. Oh, the irony.

Also, I have noticed that on Tuesdays after our staff meetings I feel crummy and defeated. My solution is that we stop having staff meetings. Think administration will go for it?
serafina20: (spn_dean eyes)
RTI will start Monday, we were told. Here are the lists of where the students will go. Do you want to do a “dry run” on Thursday last week? No? Okay, then, be ready to start Monday.

Guess what didn’t start Monday? *sigh* I was ready. I was excited. I dreamed about my RTI group all night. I planned yesterday. I even wrote it into my sub plans for Thursday and made the copies I needed. And then, no. We were told that it wasn’t starting because the aides haven’t had their training and weren’t ready. And we, the second grade teachers, are frustrated because now that we have the plan, we are ready to start. My group is a group of 5 students who need reviews in vowels, vowel sounds, and CVC words. This is not something that is going away; they need it now. We’re 10 weeks into the school year of second grade, and my group doesn’t have kindergarten skills. They need RTI.

But, no, not this week. Maybe next week.

In good news, we had a really fun assembly today. It was about having a positive impact on your school and not being a bully. The presenters were dynamic and entertaining and the kids loved it. It was noisy and loud and there was lots of music and shouting… what wasn’t there to love?
serafina20: (Default)
WordPress entry

This is the scene in my living room on Sunday afternoon. I’ve got both my work and personal computer out, plus my iPad (which is not pictured). In the old days, the work computer would be the Teacher’s Guide for the reading anthology, but that is now available online so I don’t have to lug the whole thing home. Honestly, it’d be easier to just have the anthology with me, but I’m always afraid that I’ll get sick or something and then the sub won’t have the anthology the next day. So, I use the computer instead.

Last year, I went through all 30 lessons in the reading anthology and made vocabulary lessons for the words in each lesson. I did it based on the ELLA training I received years ago and can therefore no longer remember what the acronym stands for. It took about 15 minutes for each lesson, maybe more, which doesn’t seem a lot, but times 30 lessons adds up. Plus, it took longer in the beginning when I didn’t have my groove yet. But I kept telling myself that it was okay because next year, the work would be over and I could relax.

And then this year hit. And I realized that I had to change up the way I did high frequency word phonics, and grammar. So, now, on Sunday, I make Power Points. I make a slide for all 10 HFW words and add a picture for each word as a guideline. Then I duplicate those slides a couple time and mix them up for more practice. For phonics, I make slides for blending words. This way, instead of having to sit in front of the class, write the word, and hope the kids are blending them, I can walk around while clicking through the slides and listen to them. Last, I make my grammar slides. This is where having the anthology would help, because it’s two or three days of lessons and it takes so long to get there on the computerized book.

I think the Power Points are helping. I’m seeing some improvement in test scores and they can definitely answer my questions better than they were before. The problem with the tests is they are not straightforward. Take last week. We learned proper nouns. You’d think the test would give them a sentence and ask them to identify the proper noun. Instead, the students are given a sentence like:

My sister ate otter pops on Friday.

They are then asked, “what do you need to do to correct that sentence?

a. change sister to Sister

b. change otter pops to Otter Pops

c. change Friday to friday

So, not only do they have to identify the proper noun, they have to realize sister isn’t a proper noun and doesn’t need to be capitalized and that Friday is a proper noun and does need to be capitalized. Plus, they need to figure out that Otter Pops is the name of a product, and therefore needs to be capitalized. It’s all very complicated.

This week we are doing action verbs, which can be fun. To get the idea that an action is something you do, I sing the song, “I Like to Move It, Move It” with various verbs substituted for “Move it” and the kids act out the verbs. It’s a lot of fun for me and the kids.

Hope you have a great week!
serafina20: (avengers_cap)
WordPress entry with a picture of me as Captain America

Last night was Literacy Night at our school. That’s where we invite parents to come in the evening and we teach them strategies they can use at home to work with their children. To drum up attendance, the principal promised every child that attended a Principal Eagle Dollar worth $25 dollars. I also did my part and sent a message through Class Dojo to remind students of the occasion. About six or seven of my kids came, which is more than usual for me. Second grade did held a joint presentation in the multi-purpose room, so it was crowded and buzzing during the “make and take” portion of the half hours (we did two half hour sessions). The principal was really happy with our presentation, the parents thanked us, and, overall, it was a good night. The best thing is, I don’t have to do that again until January, when it’s math night.

Today was Superhero Day at school. To show that we were against bullying, everyone was supposed to dress up like a superhero, because superheroes are against bullying.

I had two kids dress up. One girl came as Wonder Woman and one boy came as a ninja. The ninja quickly took his costume off, however. Some other kids wore superhero tops to show their spirit. I took my shield with me, intending to take pictures of the kids with it, but the day got too busy and I never got around to it.

My class also had their big Rock Painting day. The counselor came in to teach a lesson about what bullying is, how to recognize it, and how not to be a bully, and then the kids got to paint rocks with anti-bullying messages. I think two kids wrote actual messages; the rest just painted. A good time was had by all.

And we almost made it to the end of the week without another incident, but then my little darling punched another student in the stomach at recess yesterday. I wrote up the referral, but the principal was so swamped with her disasters that she didn’t see it. She did congratulate the boy on having a good day, because overall, today his day was fine. It was yesterday, only no one knew because the kid who got hit didn’t report it. *sigh*

But, it’s the weekend now. Monday will interesting. My class was originally supposed to take a test called the Children’s Progress Academic Assessment, but there’s a big anti-bullying assembly during our testing time, so we’re going to that instead. (This is the second time we’ve been rescheduled, which, actually, is fine with me. I’m not eager to take the test). Then, we’re restarting RTI, now with a much better model, but still during the last half hour of the day. On top of that, it’s one of my student’s birthdays. If they bring cupcakes, I don’t know when I can have the kids eat them except before lunch. So, we’ll see. It might be a “Happy Birthday” here’s your cupcake, now leave sort of deal.

In the meantime, it’s the weekend and I plan to relax. Hope you all have a great weekend, too!

It's a Juggling Act
Patience You Must Have
serafina20: (Default)
Look, it’s not like I wanted to have a bunch of people in my room observing me teach math. It’s not like I enjoy district walk-throughs and the pressure of wanting to be worth remembering and thought of as doing a great job. In fact, I was dreading certain members of the administration walking in because they make me incredibly nervous and they always seem to walk into my room and I automatically tense up.

But. I changed my schedule. I prepared my kids. I even changed my schedule within the schedule, because we usually start math with timed tests (which, I know are controversial, but we have to give a grade on students ability to add fluently within 20, and timed tests are how the district decided to do it) and I thought that wouldn’t be interesting to observe. I decided to start with a number talk on making ten to add three addends. It had the additional benefit of being what our actual lesson was about and we’d done one on the same concept on Friday, so the kids knew the routine. The admins were supposed to come in right at 8:30 so, at 8:30 there were were, gathered on the carpet (I moved a table last week so I could have carpet space for number talks), talking about math.

No one came in.

I extended the talk. We talked about number bonds. We used math vocabulary. We discussed strategy.


So, we go back to our desks and take out the book. The first page was just adding numbers to warm up, so they did it quickly. The next page was the lesson, which they were prepped for because of the number talk. We did the first two together. I had them do the next one on their own. The room was silent.

In walks an admin. He stays for two minutes, during which time I say one thing, the kids say nothing, and silent, independent work is done. Then, the admin left. That was it.

And it’s not like I was doing anything wrong, but I wasn’t doing anything interesting or spectacular either. I wanted to impress someone, and I didn’t get to. So now I’m sad. *sniff*

In lighter news, it cracks me up how easy it is to absolutely shock little kids. They think anything is a swear word. Last year, thought I was going to get in trouble because one of my kids said that I had said the “sh’ word. She told someone at her table, and I freaked because I honestly couldn’t remember what I might have said to make her think that. I was 99% sure I hadn’t said it, but there was that 1% of doubt. Until I remembered what I had said, which was “shoot.” And, I’m sorry, maybe some parents don’t want their kids saying it, but it’s not a swear word. It’s a euphemism and I can use it.

That brings us to today. I was reading ‘The One and Only Ivan” and one of the human characters said something like, “What the heck is that?”

You would have thought I’d dropped the f-bomb. They gasped, the blushed, they covered their mouths in shock. I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone had fainted. They were so aghast that anyone –let alone the teachers–could say that word.

Just wait until I read a book that uses the word stupid. I bet I’ll have some fainters then.
serafina20: (Default)
WordPress with pictures of books and me.

Tomorrow, the district administration is doing a walk-through of our school. They might be doing all the schools and starting with ours; I’m not sure. They are coming through to observe us teaching math from 8:05-10:00. The problem? Most of us don’t teach math until after first recess. I don’t get to it until 10:30.

“No problem!” administration says. “Just flip flop your schedule and teach math in the morning.”

And I love change so much. *sigh* I just hope I remember. I keep reminding myself, I’ve already changed my schedule cards so math is first, but I have this horrible feeling that I’ll get into the morning routine and then just naturally follow my schedule and forget about math. Maybe I’ll write a note on my hand or something.

Barnes and Noble is having Educator Appreciation this week, so I went yesterday. First, I went to Renaissance Faire and had a good time. Then, I changed out of my costume in the parking lot and drove Barnes and Noble. Like I said before, I live a half hour away from the nearest Barnes and Noble; since I was already up in the area, I figured it’d be silly not to go, even though I was covered in faire dirt and exhausted.

I was underwhelmed by the options for the most part. There were a few free posters (which I forgot to get) and a raffle (that I hope I win), but otherwise… meh. I did get a few books for the class. I’m excited that the Cars book and Sleepy Dog are below first grade reading level, because I have quite a few students reading at those levels and only a few books. This will add to that collection.

I didn’t buy more for the class because I have Scholastic Book Orders due on Friday, and will be buying from them. Scholastic is cheaper and usually gives free books for every so much you spend. Better to buy from them, even with my educator discount from B&N.

I did also get the the first Magnus Chase book by Rick Riordan. Well, the first and the third. B&N was having a special where if you bought the third book, you got any other Rick Riordan book 1/2 off. I’ve been meaning to read Magnus Chase for awhile, so this seemed like the opportunity to start.

I am exhausted today. This is why I go to Ren Faire on Saturday. I need a day to recover. And then back to the grind tomorrow.

Read Alouds

Oct. 7th, 2017 08:50 am
serafina20: (avengers_cap)
In the craziness of my daily schedule, the thing I miss the most is being able to read aloud to my students. When I first started teaching, I had 15 minutes a day to read out loud. I did it every day after lunch. Now, I’m lucky if I get 5 minutes. This week, I think I got 5 minutes total. I’m reading The One and Only Ivan to my kids, but this week I read Room on the Broom because I thought it’d be a nice change for the season and I thought I’d have time to read on other days. I didn’t. And the worst thing is, the kids don’t miss it because it’s not a consistent part of the routine and they don’t know to miss it (and, possibly, the book I’m reading might be beyond their grasp. At least right now. I might have been too ambitious).

I don’t remember my 1-3 grade teacher reading out loud to us, although she must have, at least some time. But when I got to fourth grade, it was routine. I remember almost every book my 4-5 grade teacher read. The Magician’s Nephew and Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ( in that order). I remember her looking for Turkish Delight for us to try, but she never found it (I do remember the first time I had Turkish Delight; it was rose flavored. I liked it, but wouldn’t betray anyone for it). She read 21 Balloons and By the Great Horned Spoon and Five Children and It (which was unfortunate, because the bullies in class immediately started calling one of the kids in class “It”). There were many more books she read (Detectives in Togas, which I read to my first class, and Greek Slave Boy, which I found again after many years of searching). She read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, which I loved to much, I wrote and illustrated a sequel for her. Those read alouds were important to me, and I’m sad I can’t give that to my students.

I remember my first class. I taught sixth grade and decided to read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. I’d read it before and therefore thought I was prepared to get through the whole book.

I wasn’t.

One day, I was reading along and getting to the emotional climax of the story when, suddenly, to my horror, I realized I wasn’t going to make it. My throat was closing and my eyes were burning and, yup. I was going to cry. And it wasn’t going to be pretty. My kids hadn’t realized what was happening in the story yet, so there I was, getting choked up, and they had no idea why. It was embarrassing.

But not quite as embarrassing as the first time I cried in front of a class. I was subbing and the class was difficult. Not horrible, but it’d been a rough day. The teacher had left me a book about Hiroshima to read for the kids, and they were really into it, so I kept reading. I was fine, I was fine, I was fine and then, quite abruptly, I was not fine in any sense of the word. I just started crying so hard because of the horrors I was reading. I’d never heard a class as quiet as that class. It was silent.

They were much better the rest of the day.

It’s important to read aloud to kids. It helps build vocabulary and understanding of language. It stimulates imagination, improves literacy skills. And it’s fun. It’s comforting and low stress. It’s a shame that reading aloud is not a priority for my district. I’m desperately trying to carve out five minutes a day and will continue to do so. It’s just going to have to take a little bit of imagination.
serafina20: (avengers_cap&bucky)

I’m a lot like Luke Skywalker. I whine and complain and think everything can’t be done. I fight against what I’m supposed to do and dream about what I should be doing instead. I have an idealized version on the world in my head, and when reality doesn’t meet with my expectation, my impulse is to give up. But, like Luke Skywalker, I usually don’t give up and, eventually, am able to change my point of view.

What I’m trying to say is, I’ve had a nap, some pizza, and my headache has gone from “stabbing pain” to “annoyance”, so I’m ready to change my point of view on the Maker’s Fair.

The truth is, despite loving to get up on stage and act my little heart out, I’m have a lot of anxiety when it comes to performing as myself in front of adults. Which is what the Maker’s Fair will be: me, in front of a bunch of strangers, teaching. I do not like this idea. I will be so nervous, I will want to throw up.


I won’t be that bad. The lesson is about 10% teaching, 90% exploration. The book it’s linked to is Too Many Toys by David Shannon. A boy has too many toys all over the place and his mother wants him to get rid of some. The boy explains why he can’t get rid of the toys. In the end, he agrees he has too many, but he can’t get rid of the best toy: a spaceship he made out of the box the toys were kept in.

The lesson first asks students to describe the properties of the boy’s toys (soft, fuzzy, hard, smooth, etc). Then, at the end, they are tasked with making their own toy. They are given a list of materials and their costs, specifications (the toy has to have fuzzy and smooth parts, it can’t be more than 30 cm high, etc), and they must plan their toy to before they begin. Most of the lesson is building the toy. I did that part last year with my students, and the toys turned out really well.

Plus, with adults, I won’t have meltdowns when things don’t go right, like I had with the kids. (Speaking of meltdowns, remind me one day to tell you about the marshmallow towers. That was a day).

So, while a part of me still hopes my lesson won’t be picked, I’m going to reframe the narrative as something positive. It’ll be a good opportunity to show off and it will go well
serafina20: (Default)
WordPress entry, because my hits have been low

So, last month my principal begged for a teacher to sign up for the Next Generation Science Standards district committee. She needed two teachers to volunteer and no one had. Finally, she said she’d add $40 dollars to our supply budget if we went. So, because of that and because she’s new and I want her to think well of me, I said yes.

I should have read the fine print, man.

First, we had to write a science lesson that was linked to a piece of children’s literature. Luckily, I didn’t have to do much. I found the book, found the lesson, but the actual writing was done by my partner teacher. All I did was add the literacy link part, which was easy.

Now I find out if our lesson is chosen, we’ll be presenting/teaching the lesson to teachers from all around the area at the Makers Fair. And, we have to supply the materials for an indeterminate amount of teachers. We won’t have to pay for it, but our district doesn’t do reimbursements. So… they’ll just figure out later how we’ll get the money for these supplies. And, of course, our lessons is really supply heavy because that’s the way I roll.

I should have asked more questions about what I was signing up for. Fingers crossed that my lesson doesn’t get picked.

Tomorrow was supposed to be my crazy day. In the morning, my class was going to be taking a nation-wide computer test. In the afternoon, the school counselor was coming in to teach an anti-bullying lesson. Then, in the late afternoon, it’s Fun Friday. I’m not good with craziness, but I’ve had a week to get used to the insane schedule and was mentally prepared.

And now it’s all coming apart. My class roster hasn’t been uploaded or processed to the computer. The counselor has been absent all week. Fun Friday is still on, so that’s good. But now, instead of a fast, easy day of not having to teach much, I’m going to have to scramble about to make sure I have enough to do. I know that the number one rule of teaching is you have to be flexible, but I’m not very good at that. I mean, I’m flexible, but it throws me for a loop. But I know I’ve got plenty of stuff to do. I’ll be fine.
serafina20: (Default)
wordPress entry. No pictures or anything.

That’s what the math trainer reminded me today, and she was right. Yesterday was a mess, the kids experienced something frustrating, but it’s a new day today and they’re fine. One bad lesson won’t kill them.

Math training went well today, and not just because I got a hug and a reminder I’m a good teacher at the end of it. For once, we’re getting really valuable training that we can take back to the class and use. Not only was the teacher talk part valuable, but she demonstrated a number talk and a math lesson with my class and it went really well.

We brought my class into the meeting room since I don’t have a place on the carpet for the kids to gather (I wish I did, but there’s just no room!). She showed them some cards with dots on them and have them say how many they saw and how they knew (which we’ve done in class, so they were familiar with the routine). Then, they did an activity where they used snap cubes to count how many pockets they collectively had. It was so great to see them working together, using math vocabulary, and being eager to solve math problems. They went from working with a partner to count how many pockets they both had, to deciding they could count by tens to discover how many all 23 students had, to making ten trains and counting them. Then, they wrote a word problem (we thought we had 80 pockets. We had 124 pockets. How many more pockets did we have?) and solving that word problem in different ways. We haven’t even touched on two or three digit subtraction, but they were able to use mental strategies to figure out how many more pockets they had. It was awesome!

Tomorrow, we do RTI again. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to do. I found out the other two second grade classes didn’t do RTI as such yesterday. One didn’t have their aide show up, and the other said she wasn’t going to do RTI until it was done right (next week), so had her aide work with a child on something while she did science. I could do that, or I could let my higher kids do the spelling game (I think they’d like having to race against the clock to spell a word) while the other groups do the learning games. I don’t have to pull a group like I normally would, just make sure everyone is working on something educational. So, we’ll see. Whatever I do, I won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t go well. It’s a snapshot of messiness out of a day of good teaching. It won’t kill anyone.
serafina20: (Default)

So, if you don’t know, Bunco is a dice game where you try to roll certain numbers. In each set, there’s six rounds. You have five dice and, first round, try to roll as many ones as possible. Second round, you try for twos. Third round, threes and so on. It’s easy, fast, and can be fun. But, inevitably, when you’re trying to roll ones, you keep getting twos. Then, the second you switch to twos, you get a bunch of ones. It’s so frustrating.

This is what going to the library at my school is like. At the beginning of the year, each student takes a computerized test and is assigned a reading level based on what they can read independently. Then, they check out books at that reading level, take tests on them, and, theoretically, as they become better readers, move up levels.

So, let’s say a student is a 2.1. They go to the library and look for books labeled 2.1. Sounds easy. But, the books are shelved by alphabetical order, not levels (as they should be), so you’re looking for a needle in a haystack. And, inevitably, while I’m looking for 2.1, I find 2.3, 1.5, 3.0s and then, the moment I switch to a new student who is looking for another level, BAM! Nothing but 2.1 books. Bunco.

RTI went about as I expected it to today. Part of the problem is that I’m just not assertive enough to direct people to do what I want. I need to work on this, but this is why I don’t want people in my room. I’m not good at it.

I’d decided that I’d give the aide a subsection of my “low” group to work on spelling. The plan had been to give him the higher lows while the lower lows worked on basic CVC words on Spelling City on the iPads. However, Spelling City wasn’t loading their word list, so I switched so the lower lows worked with the aid while the higher ones did our weekly spelling list on the iPads. I got divided, got the iPads out and… SpellingCity just wasn’t working, period. I guess it needs to be updated or something. So, okay, higher lows go to ABC Mouse and Epic, lower lows work with the aid, medium group does rhyming words and vowel sounds, and high group with me.

Here’s the next problem with our RTI model. Our aides are not trained in education. They are hired as recess supervisors and then take a test to become instructional aids. I don’t know what’s on the test, I don’t what the educational requirements for the position, I don’t know nothing. All I know is they are not really trained to give remedial instruction to struggling kids. But I was told to give them the group they’d be working with on Tuesdays, so that’s what I did.

Last night, I made letter tiles for the kids to build words with. The plan was for the aide to go through the spelling list with them and have the kids make the words with the letter tiles. I knew it would be difficult, but I thought it would be better to give them manipulatives than have them do it on white boards. At least it would be more engaging.

The aide timed them. He only gave them 20 seconds to build each word, which was basically impossible for these kids. I didn’t realize he was doing it at first and by the time I realized what he was doing, I was so overwhelmed with the noise and trying to manage everything, I didn’t say anything. I know I should have, but I didn’t. I failed and I have to live with that.

I don’t understand why it was done this way. Why did he have to stay in the class instead of pulling them out? I don’t get it. Not that it would have been better for the kids to be pulled out, but things wouldn’t have been so chaotic. It’s just… I felt like I was drowning.

And tomorrow, I’m out in the morning for math training. Yay. Can you feel my enthusiasm?

I did get my Alice in Wonderland poster hung. It looks good doesn’t it?
serafina20: (spn_dean blood)
WordPress entry with a couple pictures.

But until then…

So. RTI. Stands for “Response to Intervention”, which basically is a fancy way of saying group your kids into ability levels, target their weaknesses, and give them small group instruction based on those weaknesses. Sounds good, right? Only, somehow, it just doesn’t work. At least in my district, in my school, in my classroom it doesn’t. And I don’t know what to do. We keep asking for training on how to do effective intervention, and we keep not getting it. We keep being told to do it the same way we’re doing it, without seeing results, without knowing what to do. Last year, I focused on test taking strategies for my kids, but this year I can’t do that because A) it didn’t work and B) we’re giving tests differently, which means different strategies. And I don’t know what those strategies are yet.

We had an hour meeting today on all the stuff we’re doing this week, and by the end, I just wanted to cry. It’s too much. We’re starting RTI, but not really because in ‘real’ RTI, a group gets pulled out by a instructional aid while we do activities with the other two groups. Only, for some reason, we’re not doing that this week and aide is pushing in. And I hate, hate, hate people pushing into my classroom. It makes me nervous and frustrated and I don’t know what to do with them. I wish we were just starting. Just pull them out, let them get to know the rules and procedures that way. But I don’t get a say, so…

So, we’re starting RTI. And then, on Wednesday, after already losing a day to professional development and therefore being behind on my weekly lessons, I get to go to another training in the morning. This training was originally scheduled for the 18th, which was still not ideal since I’m going to be out the next two days, but at least I was mentally prepared. But now, I’ve got to do sub plans tomorrow and hope and pray it all comes together.

And then, on Friday, I’m the lucky second grade teacher who gets to do CPAA testing first. This is a computer based test that we have to take 3 times a year. My students have not been in the computer lab yet, so they don’t know what computer is theirs (and I don’t know what computers work) or the rules or the procedures or anything. Plus, as of two hours ago, my current class isn’t even registered in the system. So the tech department has four days to get that done. And, I’m not 100% sure of my password. I know the one to get into my account, but I don’t know if it’s the same one to get the kids into the test.

Also on Friday, the counselor is coming in to teach a lesson on anti-bullying and paint rocks, so that’s another hour of teaching I’m losing. It works out that I won’t be able to do weekly tests, because it gives me more freedom to delve into the material and such, but it’s just so much to happen at once.

And we’re expected to start science in all of this. Science, where each lesson takes 30 minutes to an hour. I’ve lost PE, which is not good because kids need PE. I’ll just have to keep throwing in Go Noodle breaks throughout the day to make up my minutes. Or something.

*tears hair out and screams*

Okay, that’s better.

Okay. So I know what the aide will be doing with his group tomorrow. I know what the other two groups will be doing. I’ve got all my PowerPoints done and ready to go. I’m good. It’s time to stop feeling weepy over everything that needs to be done and start doing. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done,” so I just need to remember that tomorrow it won’t seem as impossible as it does today.
serafina20: (hannibal_eyes suck)
WordPress Entry

Or, as most people call them, professional development days. I have one tomorrow, and I’m a little nervous, to say the least. Not nervous like I’m afraid that something will go wrong, but, well, I guess suspicious is more the right word. See, my district loves scheduling full day PDs for half a day, so we don’t get the full benefit of whatever we’re being presented. And, sure enough, tomorrow we have the morning for PD on our new science program, StemScopes, and then the afternoon to work with our team on planning. Both are great things to have. But, if given a choice, I’d rather be given a whole day on the science program and then planning another day. We had half a day on StemScopes last year and, through no fault of the presenter, who did her best, it sucked. We needed the full day. And I bet anything that tomorrows PD is supposed to be a full day, but the district only paid for half.

I hope I’m wrong. It’d be a nice surprise.

Also exciting, my Alice in Wonderland poster from Lithographs arrived. However, I wasn’t home when the mail carrier tried to deliver it (I missed her by about two minutes), so now I have to go the post office to pick it up. Lucky I have this horrible cough and can’t swim so I can pick it up Monday. See, everything works out for a reason. Isn’t life wonderful. 🙂
serafina20: (Default)
WordPress with pictures of books I bought.

Disclaimer: I don’t like it when people shout things out at movies or plays, unless you’re supposed to (or it’s a kid who doesn’t know any better). I mean, you’re there to enjoy the professionals and, even if they aren’t that good, chances are, you ain’t as funny as you think you are. And it’s especially disrespectful if it’s a live performance because being on stage is hard, y’all, and having to keep in character when something unexpected happens isn’t fun.

That being said…

(spoilers for The Little Mermaid stage musical to follow)

So Ariel gets her voice back and her father gives her legs and swims her up to the surface. Eric is so happy, he gets down on one knee and asks Triton if he can marry Ariel. And then, miracle of miracles, Triton said, “I believe my daughter can speak for herself.” (! 🙂 🙂 🙂 !)

And someone in the audience said, very loudly, “That’s damn right.” Which, yes, see above disclaimer, but… yeah. It’s damn right she can speak for herself. So, yeah. That made it fun. Or, funny, at least.

I liked the play. It wasn’t transcendent like Lion King (if that’s the right word), but it was a lot of fun. I liked how they expanded on Eric and his relationship with Ariel was sweet. I really enjoyed it.

And, on my way home, I stopped at Barnes and Noble. The plan was a) renew my educator card, b) get something to read and c) maybe get a game. I did the first two, but decided to hold off on the game (even though I’ve got someone coming over Friday to play games. But I’ll check Target). I didn’t mean to get books for the classroom, because I’ve got book orders due soon and I’m buying from that, but…

I’ve read The Hallo-Wiener before and it’s cute. I read Room on the Broom at the store, and it was adorable. And How to Catch a Monster was only $7.99 if you bought a children’s book, and I was already doing that. How can you pass on getting a $17 hardback book for eight bucks? How? Besides, I need to increase my holiday read aloud collection because right now I have… nothing. I’ve got hundreds of books for the kids to read, but nothing I really have set aside to read to them (Except Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.) So, this year, I am building my collection of all holiday books. It’s my mission.
serafina20: (white collar_sara)
WordPress with a couple pictures.

I lost my voice twice today. Not completely, but it got down to a croaking rasp where it was hard to hear me. The kids loved it and wanted to know why I sounded like that, but it wasn’t fun for me. I don’t think I’m going to get more sick or anything, but I’m so tired right now. But that’s okay because it’s the weekend! I get to see “The Little Mermaid” tomorrow and Pocketful of Primary is going to upload a new vlog and I might get to go to Barnes and Noble (the nearest one is 30 minutes away, so it takes some planning), so it’s going to be a great weekend.

And, yeah, they took my computer away today. The tech department wanted to update it and kept asking when was a good day. You know, like a day when I wasn’t going to be using it. Which is no day, by the way. It was last summer. But today was when I was going to be using it the least, so I let them take it. And it was torture. I kept going to do things on it, like put on soothing music during writing or use the timer or play music cues for the kids. The last two, I was able to do on my iPad, but then there was just little things, like checking my e-mail or wanting to make a note on my lesson plans. Nope. But, it’s over now. I have it back and it’s all updated and good.
serafina20: (pb_wet neck)
WordPress entry, no pictures though. Just hoping for hits. :)

Today represents what I dislike about Thursdays: I’m exhausted, I’m ready to sleep in and relax, but I still have another day. Thursday is just a day blocking my way until Friday, one more day I have to get through to get to the weekend. It’s a blah day. I’m trying to do what I can to make it a better day. I wore a pretty new dress. I got Starbucks. But even that doesn’t work. All I ask at Starbucks is a reasonable ratio of flavoring to coffee. Today, first I got no flavoring in my latte, then I got too much. But I wasn’t going to complain a second time, so I sucked it up and drank my sugary drink. Who knew there was such a thing as too much sugar?

In awesome news, my kids did really well on the Revising and Editing section of the test. It’s where their grammar skills are tested, but instead of doing something that makes sense, like giving them a sentence and asking them to identify the type, they’re given a sentence and asked–via multiple choice–to identify what’s wrong with the sentence and how to fix it. It’s incredibly complex, but a bunch of kids passed with 80% or better, so I was pleased.

We also did art. I thought it would take two days, but most of the kids finished today, so I’ll have to find something for them to do tomorrow. But the art projects turned out well. I’ll take pictures of them once they’re hung so you all can see.

Okay, I can make it through tomorrow. And then next week, we’ve got PD on Monday and then we start RTI on Tuesday, which… it might not be a disaster, but right now, I don’t exactly see how. I’ll get into it more in another post. It’s just… crazy.


Sep. 27th, 2017 05:23 pm
serafina20: (watchmen_redhead)
WordPress entry

Yeah. It was one of those kind of days. First, a student who’s been absent since Friday returned, meaning I had to get her started on testing. Then, all my other students forgot how to do our morning routine. Normally, we come in, take attendance, go over the rules, then do AR for 15 to 20 minutes. AR is a program where they read a book at their independent reading level, and then take a short comprehension test to make sure they understood what they’re reading. We do it every morning. Only, yesterday at library, I let them get a “fun” book in addition to their AR books. The fun book could be any level and they didn’t have to test on it (because it wasn’t their level). So because they had the “fun” book, all the sudden they thought they didn’t have to test or didn’t have to read (because most of them chose books that were too hard for them) or just didn’t have to be on task. So it was a lot of me trying to get them focused and following routines while I went around to check their reading journals.

Then, we started our benchmark test. First we reviewed vowels and vowel sounds, because they were doing phonics today, then I got them on their iPads testing.

And this is where my first real hiccup went. See I had gone through this 40+ question test and broken it up into manageable bits, usually 10 questions. But today, I’d messed up. There were 11 questions and one of them was an essay question on a passage they’d read yesterday. Oops. So, I got everyone past the question and onto the real exam when the principal came over the loud speaker to announce that we were having a fire drill sometime today (which I knew) and blahblahproceduresblahblah. Okay, great, fine. We finished testing and I jumped on the computer to see if I could check their scores.

The computer didn’t score it because of that essay question. I had to go through and score it, only, I don’t know how. No clue. So it was easier to delete the test, remake it, and have them retake the test. It took about 3 minutes to do that. We all get onto the iPads, when the librarian walks in to talk to me about something. So, now I’m double frazzled, because a few kids are having trouble logging in for some reason, but I’m gamely listening when…

Yup. The fire alarm goes off. And I’ve been bad this year. I never rehearsed fire drills or have gone over what to do. So, we line up, walk outside, join the crush of six or seven classes trying to go through one tiny passageway and get outside. Now, I do have to say, my kids did a really good job. They lined up and stood silently the whole time. But other than that, it was kind of a mess.

Then, we go back in. The guidance counselor took one of my students who’d gotten in trouble yesterday to talk with him. We get back on the iPads, finish the test, start putting the iPads away Then the guidance counselor comes back and wants to talk to me, so again I have to direct the kids and talk to an adult at the same time. My patience level has dropped to critical levels. The kids are getting chatty. And we’ve only made it to first recess.

It’s not the kids fault. It’s not my fault. It’s not anyone’s fault. It was just a crazy day and by the end, they could not stop talking. We didn’t get to writing because I wanted to review the math concept we learned yesterday with a game and review what we’re testing on tomorrow with a cut and paste activity. Both of those got their energy up and mine was dropping.

And then, to top everything off, as I was leaving my district-wide meeting, I got so dizzy I almost fell over. I’m okay, I think it was the heat and probably standing too fast or something, but it was scary and embarrassing because I fell right into another teacher. Oh and then, there was construction on the freeway, which added an half hour to my half hour commute. And I’m out of ice cream. 😦

Please, teaching gods, let tomorrow be better.
serafina20: (dw_nine)
WordPress entry with pictures.

As smoothly as everything is going with testing on the iPads this week, it does bring about my insecurities with being a teacher. These tests are hard. And no matter how much I try to prepare the kids for the tests, most of them still do really poorly. It’s so frustrating because we read the stories in the anthology, do the skills and strategies, go over and over everything a million times, and they get to the unit tests and…. They just don’t perform. And there’s an added wrinkle this year, because the passage is “attached,” so to speak, to the first question, so it’s hard for them to get back to the passage after they’re read it. I tell them to read the passages three times, but, really, they should be allowed to go back to the passage to look up the answers. Maybe next time, I’ll give them a hard copy of the passage so they have it. Maybe that will help. And maybe that will help me not feel as much like a failure of a teacher.

Tests suck.


serafina20: (Default)

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