Posted in Miscellaneous

Summer Activity Journals

All too often, students stop learning when summer starts. Many take their spot in front of the TV and play video games to pass time, while others play outside in the sunshine, creating and learning in the outdoors. How do we keep all students active and learning throughout the summer?

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When I was in 2nd and 3rd grade, my teacher created a Summer Activity Journal for the students in her class. In it were calendars with an educational activity for every day of the summer. Along with that were blank calendars to record how long we read each day. After an activity or reading was completed, the calendar day had to be initialed by a parent or older sibling. Each day taught or reviewed concepts in writing, math, social studies, and science. At the beginning of the next school year, if we brought back the completed Summer Activity Journal to that teacher, we got a little prize.

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What will you do to keep your students active and learning throughout the summer?

 

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Posted in Miscellaneous

Socio-Economic Gap

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Before taking Elementary Education 203, I did not fully comprehend the injustice that plagues American schools stemming from stemming from socioeconomic bias. Being raised in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, attending an upper-middle-class school, and being surrounded by upper-middle-class friends, my childhood was relatively void of experiences with people of differing socioeconomic classes. All of us were white, middle-class Christians with similar backgrounds, goals, and futures. I have gained greater knowledge regarding multicultural education, I have been surprised to learn that our education system caters to the wealthy, providing the affluent with more opportunities than the underprivileged.

During class, my professor, Dr. Waite, shared with me an analogy I am sure to remember, years from now. He described life as a river. Each human being is directed to paddle upstream against the current. He said, “Some individuals are given grand boats and taught the pitfalls of the river and how to steer through the current; others are given small canoes a small amount of instruction and a paddle. The last are sat on a log given a stick and expected to thrive as well as those in the grand boat.” He then tied this analogy to socioeconomics in schools. Describing that not every student will enter the school building with the same knowledge and circumstances but that as teachers it is our duty to ensure that each student leaves with enough knowledge or equipment to succeed. This was a powerful analogy and one that gave a visual image to an issue I was unaware of at the time. Those on the log cannot be compared to those on the boat, for no matter how hard they try they will never have the same start off point.

I was surprised that not every school is created equal. It seems as if those from a different socioeconomic class simply cannot bridge the gap and overcome their circumstances. When their school is not up to par with even the government’s lowest standards, their log is bound to fall behind. As said by Gorski, “The socioeconomic opportunity gap can be eliminated only when we stop trying to ‘fix’ poor students and start addressing the ways in which our schools perpetuate classism.” The change needs to occur at an individual level.  As I think about this quote from Gorski, I believe that there is an opposing side to the argument of school involvement. Many believe that by the time the problem of socioeconomics reaches school systems, it is too late. In my child development textbook from this semester, I read an interesting statistic: “During early childhood, a middle-class family will read to their child on average ten thousand hours; meanwhile, a lower-class family will on average read to their children only twenty-four hours.” This is a gap that needs to be changed on a family by family basis and not by the school system. By the time, the lower-class students reach school they are already so far behind that even the best teachers are nearly powerless in filling the gap.

I am shocked to see this problem being perpetuated and not fixed. I believe that is because the fix is two-part. Both parties, the parents as well as the educators, need to work together and only then will the circumstance change. Parents need to read to their children and use resources, like the public library and other free institutions, to find free options to provide their children with the exposure they need to do well in school. I think that the parents need to work to give their children the paddles and the raft that every child deserves. Not only that, the teachers need to take part in further filling this gap by teaching the students the value of hard work. Simply, the teachers need to be there to where the parents have left off and maybe teach the student how to steer their raft. This is not an easy or perfect solution, but, as parents and teachers work together, I believe this gap can and will be filled.

Socioeconomics is a difficult subject to discuss because of all the moving parts, but I believe that as families, schools, and even communities work together to teach the young, the world will be changed, people will rise from poverty, and America will truly become the land of opportunity. I believe in the power of hard work and family and that through the combination of the two, the world will be at the next generation’s fingertips despite the amount of money in their parents’ pockets.

Posted in Miscellaneous

The Importance of Classroom Jobs

Imagine:

Your day started with guided reading groups where the students did reader’s theater. Props and desks ended up all around the room. Then, there was a quick transition to math where the students played measurement football. All the desks were pushed to the side and chairs were knocked over as the students lined up on the sidelines of the “field.”  An intense game of football was played where students threw the Nerf football in hopes of making a field goal. The students were so into the game that they played up until the last few seconds before they had to rush to specialities, followed by lunch. Coming in from lunch, the students pushed their desks back into messy rows and writing began. Soon they were interrupted by dance practice. They left out their writer’s notebooks and hurried to practice. Then it was time for social studies. They colored, cut, and glued as they created their state reports. Scraps of paper ended up on the floor, crayons rolled off the desks, and glue made every surface sticky. As the day came to an end, you looked around your room. The first thing that went through your mind was, “Oh no, it looks like a tornado struck the room… It’s going to take forever to clean and I still need to pass out the permission slips and homework packets!” You began to panic. What were you going to do?

You started to open your mouth to give a bunch of directions to clean up the pigsty of a room when you paused and noticed what was happening. The paper passers were on top of handing out the permission slips and homework packets. The floor monitors had picked up every last scrap off the floor. Table monitors were rinsing out the sponges, the pencil monitor was busy at the sharpener, the bookshelves had been straightened by the librarian, and the whiteboard was shiny and white again. The students had done it all without even being asked!

Help wanted

Importance of Classroom Jobs

By the end of the day you are tired and the last thing you want to do is clean up the big mess the students made that day. With a system put in place, students take on the responsibility of keeping the classroom nice and tidy. Classroom jobs can save your life as a teacher, as well as help students feel important, gives them a sense of accomplishment, take responsibility, and be involved in making the classroom a place of learning.

There are three key parts to this system:

1. Make sure the students know why each job is meaningful.

2. Rotate jobs often.

3. Reinforce their work and success.

Classroom Jobs Ideas:

Pencil Sharpener – sharpens the dull pencil basket

Paper Passer – passes out all papers during class

Door Holder – closes classroom door and holds other doors for class

Librarian – straightens/organizes classroom library

Energy Expert – turns off the light when your class leaves the room

Line Leader – leads the line and sets the example

Floor Monitors – cleans up trash and other things off the floor

Desk Police – makes sure desks are cleaned up

Board Eraser – erases any dry erase boards

Materials Managers – organizes, collects and distributes manipulatives and materials

Elephant Questions  Help wanted 2  Job Chart

Posted in Miscellaneous

Teaching Philosophy

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Ever since I was a child I have wanted to be a teacher. Early on in my education I fell in love with learning and school. I fell in love with the nearly silent hum of test taking, the crunch of a pencil sharpener, and the swoosh of turning the page in a textbook. But most of all I fell in love with the opportunities for service in schools. Because of my love for school I have strong beliefs about education. My beliefs are made up of many ever-changing parts, but include my view of my personal expectations for myself and my students, my view on student learning, my responsibility as a teacher, my abilities as a teacher and their affect on my students, and my contributions to the teaching profession. I believe my passion and values will have a great influence on education and those I teach.

Because of my experiences as a student, as a teacher, I have high expectations for the way I am to teach my students. I expect that I will teach with love and patience. As an individual, I love to serve, and, as a teacher, I have the greatest opportunity to serve those that I teach. Through the contrast I have seen in my education between those prepared to teach and those who do not understand the importance of their vocation, I am prepared to be an educator who motivates, that teaches the most important lesson of all- that learning is valuable and anyone, through hard work, can and will succeed. This translates to not only high expectations for myself but also high expectations for those that I teach.

As a professional student all my life, I can see those who are interested and involved in their education and those who are trying to scrape by. As a teacher I expect my students to listen, to come to understand the value of education, and to see that school is not about the grades but is instead about the knowledge that one gains.

My biggest expectation for my students on a social level is that of inclusion. I want my classroom to have a feeling of unity, and this is very much determined by the nature of the students in my class. I want all of my students to feel loved, so in my classroom there will be no room for unkindness and cruelty. By having a zero-tolerance policy for unkind behavior in my classroom, I believe my students will come to value kindness and each other. I expect a great deal of my students both academically and socially, and I believe that the more an educator expects from their students the more the students will expect of themselves.

Another important aspect of teaching I plan to use in my classroom is music. I plan to create and have songs for my students to be excited about the mundane tasks in the classroom. I believe that by allowing my students to have fun in the classroom setting they will be able to better focus and learn that school work can be both fun and educational. This is paramount and will create a way to call all my student’s attention and focus on one task. I believe as a teacher this will be an important tool and one that I will rely on.

I have a great responsibility as a teacher to use these learning tools in ways that will engage my students.I believe as a teacher I will have a philosophy of student first. If my students are unable to learn the concept the way I originally planned to teach it, I will simply change my plans to fit their needs. I believe this is the best way to foster learning in the classroom. I have made a commitment to lifelong learning and I plan to continue this even during my teaching. As an educator, I will listen to my students and their parents and learn about their specific needs. Although I know that I will not be able to cater to the needs of each individual student, I wish to learn about their needs and learn the best way to help my students succeed. I believe that at times this philosophy will be a test of my pride as I have to change the plans that I viewed as flawless to fit my student’s needs. But I am more than willing to sacrifice my pride, time, and resources to change the lives of the students I come in contact with. I expect nothing less than greatness from myself as a teacher because I am shaping and forming lives each day at my job. Teaching and learning are fundamental in our society and I will not let my students down.

I have come to understand the true weight of teaching and the incredible responsibility teachers take into their hands on a daily basis in the classroom. They shape and form characters and futures. A teacher can excite their students about learning and their students may go on to change the world. As a future teacher, who am I to think I will not change the world? Each and every educator, for good or bad, molds the lives of those they teach. If I expect my students to strive to greatness as learners, as a teacher I need to have these same ideals and work each and every day to be the best teacher I can be because my students deserve nothing less.

I cannot wait to enter my classroom for the first time and hang up my brightly-colored posters and place my name tag on the desk. I will be a new teacher and lack experience in the classroom. I will not be the best teacher; I will make mistakes and lose my patience. But aside from all my faults someday I will be great because if nothing else I will love my students. More than any attribute or concept that I will learn in school, I know I will be a successful educator because I will love my students, and out of this love will come hard work, patience, and a desire to be the best possible teacher I can be. So even though I am not perfect, I know I will succeed because I cannot help but do my very best for those I love. In conclusion, at the base of all my beliefs about education there is a deep and lasting love for school and for my students that will make me successful, and more importantly, a love that will make my students successful.

 

What is your teaching philosophy?