Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning From My Mistakes- Writing Edition

I will be extremely honest with all of you, I am not a perfect teacher.  I do not have all the answers or solutions, I do not have the perfect lesson plans, and I do not stick to my time schedule.  I am, instead, a human being who gets frustrated, stressed out, and makes plenty of mistakes.  After 8 years of teaching and my fair share of mistakes, I have learned to embrace those mistakes.  I often go home the day of the mistake and process what went wrong and what I needed to change.

Here is a perfect example of learning from my mistakes....

When lesson planning for this week, I figured I would make the most of my writing block and incorporate health.  This being relatively easy to do because February is Dental Health Month.  I laid out the plan and the steps I wanted to see my little owls take in writing and understanding more about their teeth.  We watched a few videos, discussed vocabulary, brainstormed, but then the reluctant writing piece came along.  :(

My owls have really been moving along with writing and I have been challenging them with some more specific writing pieces these days.  For some unknown, I blame this terrible winter, reason, my little owls just forgot what writing was.  Kind of hard to get them to write about brushing their teeth and using graphic organizers when writing a word was foreign to them.

This is now not my proudest teaching moment, but I will share to help you not make my same mistake.  I knew right away on Monday when I started our lesson, this was not a writing kind of week.  Instead of addressing this and taking the needed steps backwards, I pushed us forward.  Insert Tuesday's teacher meltdown moment!!!!  I put on the video I had planned, we talked about the steps that we take to brush our teeth, wrote them in a brainstorming column on our papers, and then all bets were off.  I modeled and talked about how to take those steps, put them in order, and then to make them into complete sentences.  The blank stares at this point should have told me to turn around and run, but it was in my lesson plans and it had to be done.  From this moment forward, I spent plenty of time saying, "Hold on," "We went over that," and "Didn't you pay attention?"

After I reached the point of utter frustration, I collected their work and tried to breath.  I knew that I needed to approach this lesson differently, but how????  I went home that night and thought about what needed to be done (what was important) and what just wasn't working.  I knew the videos were hooking the little owls, so I found a new one on youtube.  I watched it a couples of times and realized I needed concrete objects for the owls to see and touch to help them put their steps in order for writing.  I put together this bag....

Inside were all of the things I would need to brush my teeth properly.  I had the owls help me recall what objects were used based on the video and in what order.
(The water bottle was used to symbolize the water that needed be used to wet the toothbrush.  Then there is a toothbrush, toothpaste, cup for rinsing our mouths, and a single use floss.)
As the owls helped me with object order, I added the sequential words like first, next, then, and last.  After we repeated the order several times in complete sentences using sequential words, we moved to the Smartboard.
Here I projected the writing paper they were going to use and modeled how to write on the lines what we had just said together and to illustrate the sentences in the boxes.  I had the owls provide me with parts of the sentences to allow for more ownership, which is something that the previous day's lesson lacked.  I handed out their papers and allowed them to go for it.  I am pleased to say that their writing was much better today and it was due to my ability to address my own mistakes and to correct what I could.
Sorry to have written a novel of a blog post, but I wanted to show how teachers make mistakes and that it is perfectly fine.  I do not view myself as a poor teacher because my lesson didn't go well, but I know that once it was reviewed and retaught, my owls got a whole lot more out of it and their writing really showed it.
Don't forget that TPT is also having a huge sale Thursday and Friday to celebrate the huge milestone of being 3 million teachers strong!  My whole store will be 20% during those two days. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Time for a little February Currently and a Freebie!

At this time, I am having some mixed emotions about it already being February.  On one hand, I'm super glad it is because winter can go take a hike right now.  I'm over it!  On the other hand, I still have a lot of learning to get done with my little owls.

Anyways, I will embrace the truth that it is now February and will link up with Farley for her monthly Currently.  Click the button below to read other blogger's Currentlys and to find some new blogs to follow.  :)

Oh' boy fourth grade
Here we go....
Shall we have a little explanation for these answers???
Listening- We are currently getting more snow up in WI, so I'm listening to the snow plows making their trips up and down our street in a tired attempt at keeping the roads clear.
Loving- Due to our two cold days last week, I got myself hooked on the Netflix show, Hemlock Grove.  I'm not quite sure what it is about the show that hooked me, but I have been trying like crazy to finish it so I know what happens. 
Thinking- This one is pretty straight forward.  My house could use a bit of cleaning right now.  I mean, it isn't terrible by any means, but some dusting would be nice.  Anyone want to come and do it? 
Wanting- I really am over winter.  It has been long and cold and I'm just done with it.  At this time I think it is safe to say that winter and I are not friends.  :)
Needing- Don't get me wrong on this one, I love my family with all my heart, but a weekend getaway where I can pamper myself and relax sounds heavenly.
The two truths are the first two- I was a gymnast for over ten years.  My mom had enrolled me in gymnastics classes because I was really shy and she was hoping it would help me open up.  I ended up just loving everything about the sport.  After a couple of years of just recreational classes, I started competing.  I was then in the gym 4 days a week for up to 3 hours at a time. 
I have always wanted to be a teacher, in particular a Kindergarten teacher.  My Kindergarten teacher was the reason for this.  She was the sweetest woman in the whole world and she had this way of just connecting with all of her students.  I knew that was exactly what I wanted to be as a teacher.
The fib- My son is refusing to take a nap.  I so cherish nap time in our house.  It is either my own nap time or just quiet time.  :)
Finally, we are focusing on shapes this next week and I put together a little shape identification and counting activity to go in their math stations to reinforce our learning.  Please feel free to click on the picture and download!
Thanks for reading my ramblings today and have a wonderful weekend!