Newbie Bloggers Hop (A Linky Party!)

I found this linky party on Hodges Herald .   Grade Three is the Place for Me is hosting a newbie blogger hop.  I’m not a “newbie” blogger, but this personal, reflective blog is new and I’m always interested in building new relationships, so what a wonderful idea!

Interested in making new connections?  Here’s how to participate:

1.  Post about his linky party on your blog

2.  Answer these five questions

3.  Think about visiting the other blogs on the post

1. What state are you in?

South Carolina

2.  What is your current teaching position?

6th grade ELA

3. What is your teaching experience?

I am embarking on my 15th year – 5 years in 6th grade 5 years in 8th grade, 1 year as a Curriculum Facilitator, 3 years as a Exceptional Education Facilitator

4. When did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2010 with my classroom webisite:  Mrs. Jefferson’s Classroom.  My new personal, reflective blog, Surviving Sixth Grade, is not quite a week old! 🙂

5. Share a blogging tip / blogging resource.

Make connections by following other blogs, commenting on posts, following them on Twitter, etc!  Make your prescence known in the blogosphere!

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! (Back to School Linky Party)

I’m jumping in feet first (as I usually do) with the idea of being a part of a linky party.  Ms. Crouse at Sixth Grade All Stars, is hosting a linky party discussing ideas for back to school.  She is a first year teacher and is super excited about the unbelievable journey she is embarking upon.  I had the best support system as a first year teacher and feel it is my responsibility to return the favor as many times as possible.

Guide to participating in the linky party:

1. Post about this linky party on your blog

2. Follow her blog ({6th Grade} All-Stars) (and mine as well 🙂 )

3. Answer the following 5 questions (include documents if you have them):

– What grade do you teach?
6th Grade English Language Arts
– What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? 
I think the greatest advice I’ve ever received wasn’t actually in words – but in actions.  So many of the teachers I have worked with (and continue to work with) always did what was in the best interest of children – even if it meant more work for themselves.
– Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)?
I make a checklist – but I can never find it when I need it (kinda like my grocery list)! And even though I’ve been teaching for 15 years, I change it up every year.  One staple the I open up and read every year is Harry K. Wong’s First Days of School.  The information in that book continues to be relevant and reliable.
I also found a couple of sites that have checklists that I think would be helpful to teachers.  I’m listing a few of them below:
– What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)?
In the past, I would put up posters all over the classroom before the students walked into the room.  I will still put a few posters up (mostly inspiring quotes), but I plan to leave a lot more space to the anchor charts we will create together.  I cannot live without my iPad (I have so many apps that I use to make the classroom run easier), Class Dojo (an online management system), a robust classroom library and the following picture books:
Oh, The Places You Can Go!
First Day Jitters
The Teacher From the Black Lagoon (which also has a video that you can find on youtube or schooltube)
Chrysanthemum
Big Plans
Spoon
The Recess Queen
Amazing Grace
I use many of those books during the first week of school to introduce various themes that help us discuss community, relationships, and goals.
– What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom?
A positive attitude, consistency, and a plan for early finishers! 🙂

Sixth Grade Transition Academy

Let me just say it right now – I LOVE my principal!  He is kind, supportive, intelligent, and always wants to do wants to do what’s best for children.  My principal is a super hero!  He protects his staff from dangers that we don’t even see.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my principal!  Now what does that have to do with my post?  I’ll tell you.

I have spent 14 out of my 15 years of education in middle school.  I love it!  In both districts that I’ve worked with, 6th grade is a part of the middle school concept.  I recognize the challenges that come with moving from elementary to middle school:  lockers *gasp*, changing classes *gasp*, and keeping up with all the materials that their six teachers give them *scream*!   Last year we had a bad as all get out slightly challenging group.  They were very imature and couldn’t keep up with a single, solitary thing!  Hence the idea of a transition camp.  What better idea could we have then to bring them in for a few days, let them meet their teachers, practice their schedule, and work with their locker?.  It would give us some time to talk about organization as well as introduce them to school and classroom expectations before the “upperclassmen” got there.

My principal was on board from the very  beginning.  We told him we would volunteer our time, make do with whatever we had, to get to show on the road.  He told us he would make it happen – and boy did he ever.  Our students will receive a great bulk of the materials they will need for their core classes (binders, pocket folders, tab dividers, and paper), lunch and a snack, a T-shirt, and he is providing transportation!

Transition Academy School Supplies

We are so freaking excited!  One of my team teachers and I went shoppping today for some of the materials that we could cheaper by going directly to the store and the others were over the internet.  It is our hope that the camp will alleviate some of the anxiety felt by students and parents over their big jump to middle school.  Stay tuned to hear how everything goes…

I would love to hear of anyone else who has done something similiar.  Drop a few pearls of wisdom my way…. 🙂

To Daily 5 or not to Daily 5? That Is The Question….

Last summer I began to see tweets using the Daily5 hastag (#Daily5) and hear about teachers discussing the implementation of the CAFE model.  I had been looking for a program that would help me improve my student’s reading skills, so I immediately purchased both books……and then thought nothing else of it.  About mid way in the school year, I began to work with small groups in a way that seemed beneficial.  Most of the work assigned to students working independently was on the computer – and I was fine semi-ok with that, but I felt like there were other more activities that the students could be completing that would also be beneficial.  Besides, it takes some time before the students (well actually I) became comfortable with using the netbooks independently and I wanted activities that I could begin right away while I was conferencing with students and/or groups.

I was also disatisfied with my independent reading program.  Many of my students were not reading, they were just going through the motions and by the end of the year I just wanted the fakers to be quiet so that the one’s who wanted to read – actually could without their disruptions.  But, I knew that the fakers were the ones who really needed to be reading – I just couldn’t reach them.

Insert the Daily Five.  This summer, I opened my Kindle app on my iPad and actually began reading The Daily Five.  Voila!   Here was a program thaat I could implement on Day One that was composed of all the components that are essential to students being successful as proficient readers.

I truly feel that the concept of the Daily 5 is what I need, although there are a few obstacles I need to overcome.  One:  I only have a 60 minute block to teach reading and writing skills.  Two:  I will have aproximately 100 students total this year.  I have found resources that support a 60 minute block and have begun pulling resources to support what will probably look like the Daily 2 or 3.

Students will rotate between Read to Self (Daily), Word Work, Work on Writing, and possibly Listen to Reading.  I have purchased Composition Notebooks, which will be where they will complete their Daily 2 or 3 assignments, I think…..

Daily 5 Notebooks

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on each section of the Daily 5 2 or 3 implementation….

Why I’m Joining the Global Read Aloud

I love to read. As a child, I was fussed at frequently because I was reading when I should be doing something else. In high school I jumped at the chance to take AP English but didn’t even contemplate taking AP Calculus. Before texting and driving – I was reading and driving….yes, I admit it! Then I found out about audiobooks and gave Cracker Barrell a great deal of my business until my local library caught up. Because of my love of reading, I find it unfathomable that there are children in this world who don’t like to read.

Last year, my class participated in a book read with classes out of Mississippi and North Carolina. They loved it! They enjoyed the idea of using Edmodo to respond to other students’ posts in another state. Add to that a Skype experience and I had to beg them not to read ahead – but they did it anyway!

So why the Global Read Aloud? Instead of just two other classes, we will be reading this book with approximately 100 other classes – all over the world!  Multiple opportunities to Skype and use Edmodo (which the children love) as well as get the students excited about READING!

This year, the Global Read Aloud will be reading Charlotte’s Web (for younger children) and The One and Only Ivan (for older students).   Excited – heck yeah I am!  I devoured The One and Only Ivan  in a day with tears streaming down my eyes as I finished (and yes, before you ask I’m a HUGE crybaby) and am still wondering how I’m going to get through it since there isn’t an audiobook available yet.

Have I piqued your interest yet?  I hope I have.  If so check out the Global Read Aloud Blog and Wiki.  Also, you can follow information on twitter by using the hastag #glread12.

Hope to see you soon!

My Real Life Fairy Tale

Courtesy of disboards.com

Who needs a fairy godmother when my reality is a real fairy tale? I am living my dream life – making a difference daily in the lives of children. I am the fairy godmother that has used chalk, dry erase markers, and now my Promethean board’s ActivWand as the magic wand to change school attire into business suits, medical scrubs, and military uniforms. I am the fairy godmother that uses magical words like, “I believe in you” or “I’m taking nothing less than your very best” to create, not princesses, but scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and best of all – educators.

These words, although cheesy, truly express my feelings about being an educator. As I embark upon my 15th year of teaching, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I have to be around children – I know that it was meant for me to improve the lives of children. And despite the challenges I face on a daily basis (funding, standardized testing, increased pressure to perform, the occasional apathetic child and/or parent), I know that I make a difference.

It’s evident in the hugs I get at the end of the day (even after having received a tongue lashing), it’s evident in the smiles and the high fives, it’s evident in the confidence parents give me to do what’s best for their child.

Who needs a fairy godmother when my reality is a real life fairy tale? I am living my dream life – making a difference daily in the lives of children.

Are you?

In The Beginning…..

I’ve toyed with this idea for a while now.  Should I?  Shouldn’t I?  But, I’ve done it – I’ve made up my mind to begin a personal reflective blog.  I have one for my parents and students, I have one that focuses on technology (which I’ve sorely left lacking and is another reason why I hesitated creating this blog), but I’m planning so many new and exciting things in my class this year – so why not?

This blog will allow me to not only showcase the work that my students create, but also reflect on these new practices.

I appreciate all the input and feedback I hope to receive as you experience my life as a sixth grade warden teacher!