Posted in Miscellaneous

Building a Classroom Library

The summer before my internship, I had a very long list of things that needed to be done before school started. One of my priorities was finding a large quantity of high quality children’s books for my classroom. I turned to a friend who is an experienced thrift shopper. She gave me a lot of great suggestions! Here are some of them…

Thrift Stores

I found some local thrift stores that have great book sales! You do have to be careful because lots of thrift stores try to make you believe that a $1 book is a good deal, when you can find much better deals than that! There are thrift stores that take about 10 books and wrap them in cellophane and sell them for less than a dollar! If I saw 2 or 3 books that I recognized as high quality literature, I would buy the whole package! The same store had different colored tags that went on sale each day of the week. I figured out what days were the best sales and went and found books with the daily deal tag on them. Also, be sure to mention that you’re a first year teacher because they will give you much better deals! 😉

Used Book Sale at the Public Library

Many public libraries have book sales. Be sure to check the books for major damage before you buy them though! They tend to sell books that are too worn to lend.

Scholastic Book Fair

The Scholastic Book Fair comes to my school for Parent Teacher Conferences. This year, the PTA had each teacher make a stack of “Wish List” books. Whenever someone from your class checked out at the book fair, they would encourage parents to donate a book to their child’s class. I think half of my class did! Parents are so incredibly generous!  Students got to write their name on the inside of the book, saying that they donated it to Miss Hinckley’s Class.

Scholastic Book Club (Scholastic Flyers)

The parents of my students love ordering from the Scholastic flyers that I send home every other month. They consistently order and we consistently get free books for our class! Whenever a book order comes in, students love to share what books they ordered with the class! If you save up your parent orders until the end of the month, teachers earn lots of bonus points (which help you earn lots of free books!)!

Summer Used Book Sales at Schools

There was a sale at a school near my home. I happened to show up right as they were cleaning everything up. When the lady in charge heard that I was a first year teacher, she told me to take any books I wanted for FREE! They were going to be taking everything left to Deseret Industries afterward. Be sure to check for damaged books before you buy them at these sales too!

BYU Partnership Book Collection

My school had a collection of books for interns that I split with the other intern at my school. It really helped!

Some final tips would be to start early and don’t be afraid to be picky! There’s plenty of high quality literature  out there-and for awesome prices too! Happy shopping!

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Posted in Miscellaneous

TESOL Minor and TELL Student Teaching

When I was starting classes in the Elementary Education program, the TESOL Minor was required. That has since changed and it is no longer required, but I wanted to share my TELL student teaching experience and how it prepared me for my internship.

Once I had finished all the TELL courses (TELL 400, 410, 420, 430, 440, and 450), the last thing I had to do to earn my ESL endorsement was complete my TELL student teaching (TELL 477R). I completed it the spring term before my internship. I honestly had no idea what to expect with TELL student teaching, so here’s a sneak peek!

Since I had just been hired as an intern in Jordan District, they placed in me in a Jordan District school to complete my TELL student teaching. I was assigned to Riverside Elementary School in Mrs. McAllister’s 2nd grade class with another BYU student. I had previously been placed in 1st grade for K-2 practicum experience and 6th grade for my 3-6 practicum experience, so I had never really worked with 2nd graders before. It was great to have an idea of the age and abilities of the students in my class, especially since I was pondering what procedures I would put in place in my own classroom in a short month or two. Mrs. McAllister actually taught one class in the morning and another class in the afternoon as part of the Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program at the school. I had the opportunity to work with many native Spanish speakers! I had one case study student who I worked with in a guided reading group. We had so much fun! We used Coyote and Rabbit as a readers’ theater script. The students recorded themselves at the end… they loved it!  

As you learn in TELL courses, especially TELL 440, Multiple Simultaneous Diverse Learning Activities (MSDLAs) are learning activities that integrate content and language instruction. Part of TELL student teaching is creating a set of MSDLAs for a specific unit in the class you’re working with and then using them! My partner and I created MSDLAs for Mrs. McAllister’s unit on the Night Sky.

They were a lot of work, but it was a great learning experience! We made changes from day to day as we used them to teach two different classes. My partner and I learned a lot about what 2nd graders can do and we have both used them to teach our classes as interns. My TELL experience taught me not only how to work with English Language Learners and their families, but it taught me how good practices that are good for all learners!

Posted in Miscellaneous

Christmas in the Classroom

Merry Christmas!

Christmas in 2nd grade was so much fun! I was not quite prepared for all the Christmas festivities that take place in a classroom before Christmas, but it was a blast! I was really grateful for the members of my grade level team and their willingness to share their tried-and-true Christmas ideas with me.

Parent Gifts

We made these festive wreath ornaments with a couple simple ingredients, including Ditalini pasta, Bowtie pasta, rubbing alcohol, green cardstock, hot glue, red ribbon, and lots of Elmer’s glue! We put this year’s school pictures in the middle. Students wrote their first name and the year on the back in green Sharpie (in their cute 2nd  grade handwriting!).

They included a handwritten letter to their parents with the ornament. We packaged them in brown paper bags that we decorated to look like reindeer and little gift tags. My students were so happy with how they turned out!

Christmas Around the World

Part of the Social Studies core in 2nd grade is learning about traditions. So, during rotations time (gym, art, computers, music) the two weeks before Christmas, students got to visit several different countries in a Christmas Around the World rotation. This year, students visited Hungary, Sweden, Italy, Mexico, and Austria!

Polar Express Day

The 2nd grade team puts together a whole day of Polar Express activities connected to the core. Students wear their pajamas and bring a stuffed animal to school. They get their own Polar Express ticket that gets punched at each “stop”. They also received their own bell. At the end of the day, we had a hot chocolate bar (put together by one of the parents) and watched the Polar Express movie. Students loved it!

Christmas Assemblies

There were many school-wide Christmas festivities, as well. There was a 4th grade program, a sing-a-long, and a Christmas program where each grade performed a Christmas song. The teachers prepared a flash mob dance to Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe” that we performed at the final Christmas program. It was so much fun!

What holiday traditions will you have in your future classroom?

Posted in Miscellaneous

Jumping in with Two Feet

{Image from: https://www.barepockets.com/spectacular-cliff-diving-spots/}

It has been awhile since I last posted, but for a good reason… I accepted an intern position in Jordan School District and started teaching second grade in July! It has been quite the adventure! As I have reflected on the beginning of my time as an intern, the phrase “jumping in with two feet” has come to mind. I think we’re pretty familiar with this idiom, but I looked up the meaning and found the following: Jumping in with two feet means “to begin or undertake something quickly, enthusiastically, and without trepidation”. In my case, I definitely had to take on a second grade class quickly… I finished my TELL student teaching experience at the end of June and the first day of school was on July 26th! I had to be enthusiastic… which wasn’t hard because teaching is a dream come true for me and second graders are still excited about school!  Finally, I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous, but I heard once that, “being nervous shows you care about the outcome”. So, I think being a little bit nervous is good! 

Throughout my years taking classes in the McKay building, I always heard the options of student teaching, interning, and student teaching abroad. I always leaned towards interning. It worked out for me time-wise and by the end of my practicum experiences, I felt ready to have my own classroom and implement my own classroom management plan. I was ready to “jump in with two feet”!

As it turns out, I really was ready! Professors, Clinical Faculty Associates (CFAs), and academic advisors are honest about the rigors of the internship option. It is, indeed, difficult. I am a few months in and I can definitely say that it is hard, but it’s also really fun! I have loved the chance to set up my own classroom and decide what procedures to implement. There were some procedures that I didn’t implement week 1 because I didn’t even know I needed them! I think that’s part of “jumping in with two feet”! There is a steep learning curve, but this experience has been so rewarding!

Since I was hired to teach at a year-round school, I started on July 26th, instead of mid-August, I had to try to wrap my head around a curriculum that I wasn’t familiar with and a class full of students I hadn’t met yet… all in about one month. Somehow I did it! It has been stressful to make things up as I go, but when those things go well, it’s so rewarding! I have a facilitator, or a mentor teacher, that has been by my side every step of the way. A big part of her job everyday is helping me! When I have questions about a student with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or how to teach art next week, she is right there to help and give me advice.  The grade level team that I am a part of is so supportive, and so is my principal.

If you’re wondering whether or not to pursue a degree in teaching, or whether or not to intern, I would say… Go for it! Jump in with two feet… it’s so worth it!