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Making the Web Work for Me

7 Dec

Inspiration came to me today in the form of my sister, Lissa.  While at the PEAK conference today, I attended Lissa’s presentation titled “Making the Web Work for You.”  She helped me remember why I keep this blog.  I want to reflect on my teaching and learning while also connecting with other teachers.  If I’m never posting on my blog, how am I supposed to achieve this?  One thing Lissa said to me after the presentation was “It takes a little extra time now, but the time it will save in the future is worth it.”  So now I am taking that time.

My school has each teacher set a goal to help us grow as professionals.  A colleague and I set the same goal for a couple of reasons.  The first reason is that we both had interest in the same topic.  The second reason is we wanted to help keep each other accountable.  Our goal is to incorporate inquiry-based strategies for literacy through centers, daily plans, and weekly plans.  We want our teaching of literacy to be more authentic and natural.  We do not want letter of the week or other phonic programs because we do not feel it is authentic.

My current understanding of authentic inquiry-based literacy learning is that it is student driven.  When students start asking questions about letters and sounds is when it should be introduced and talked about in the class.  It should not be introduced in alphabetical order, but rather based on student interest and connections to other topics being discussed in the class.  One strategy is by looking at the first letter of each of their names.  My understanding is that students will start to notice letters and the sounds words make and naturally want to know and learn how to make these letters.

Our plan to learn more about this goal is to do personal professional development and observe other teachers that we know already have this in place in their classrooms.  Lissa has also inspired me to reach out in the twitter world to find others that can help me reach my goal.  Now that the inspiration has come, I will do my best to continue to reflect as I learn.

Drawing Together

10 May

While I was in the maternity leave substitute position, there was a day that I had no white paper for the students to draw on.  I had my wonderful TA Hiba go get some butcher paper for the class to draw on.  We moved the tables and taped it to the floor.  I set markers and crayons both out for them to draw with.  It was a sight to see.

The students were so quiet at first as they settled into the place they chose around the paper.

DSC04168

 

The quiet did not last long as the students began attempting to write and draw many things.  Some of which had to do with out PYP Unit if Inquiry “How the World Works.”

This picture shows one student writing letters.  You can also see the picture that Hiba drew of a flower, per the request of many students.

DSC04174

 

It was amazing to see the growth they had all made that would have been missed if I had given them something specific to draw.  This activity tops a coloring page any day!

 

Conferences

21 Mar

I officially made it through my first conferences.  It was great to meet and talk with all of the parents. I also had 100% attendance!

Caring for Living Things

6 Mar

We are currently doing a unit of inquiry called Sharing the Planet.  We have been talking about the difference between living and nonliving things as well as what living things need to grow and live.

I wanted my students to be able to see a living thing, specifically a plant, grow, so we are taking care of lentils.  I bought regular unsplit lentils at the store.

Lentils

They had to first soak overnight in water so they would absorb as much water as needed.  Each student was able to put a handful in our tub of water.

Soaking the Lentils

DSC04116

We linked this to literacy by talking about the letter B for bean.  They glued the leftover lentils to a letter B.

B for Bean

The next day, once our beans were good and soaked, each student put a spoonful in their own cup so they could have their own beans to take care of and watch grow.

Individual cups

After only one night of being in the cups they have grown already!  Can you see the little sprouts?

Day 2 in cups

Having their own cup really worked well today when they each got to hold their cup and touch their beans and no fighting went on.  Each student gave his or her own cup a small spoonful of water.  It is amazing how careful they are around the beans while they are playing.  They didn’t want to hurt them 🙂

Fostering Creativity

2 Mar

Long time no post.  I have been settling into my longterm sub postion and learning how IB works.  With this overwhelming task of learning PYP in in such a short time posting has taken a backseat.

We have been having fun in Pre-K and using our creative minds.  I recently came across a large cardboard box just sitting in our staff room.  No one was using it so I snagged it for my classroom.  I wrote in my lesson plans for my students draw pictures of what they wanted to create with the box.  It just so happened that on that same day we went to the library and the librarian picked out the book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis to read to my students.  It worked out fantastic!  After the library we went back to the class and the students each drew their picture of what they wanted to create  with the box.  Being 3 years old sometimes we don’t understand what they have intended to draw, so my TA and I went around and recorded what each student had drawn.  Here are a couple images of their drawings.

Big Shark

Big Shark

House

House

Tent

Tent

I decided to create a house for the library that could also act as a puppet show stage.  This was inspired by something I found on SheKnows Parenting.  I put it together and the students decorated it with paint and glitter.  They had quite a bit of fun.

Decorating

Decorating

Decorating

 

It got a little messy…

Decorating

 

The next day I placed it in the library section of our room as a place for them to read.  It was a popular area all day!

Reading

 

Who knows how long this little house will last, but I know they will enjoy their reading time while it is there!

The Love Of Teaching

7 Feb

So I have now been in Kuwait for about 5 weeks.  I am loving it which is evident in the fact that I signed a contract.  Since I have been here I have worked a lot but I have also found some time to do some fun things like ride a camel!  Even though I am having a lot of fun there are those people I am missing at home.  To lessen the pain I have Skyped with my parents, siblings, friends, and my little first graders.  I think I have skyped with my old class about as much as I have with my mom.  After I finished Skyping with them today Tammy sent me a picture of a letter one of my students wrote.  I am very proud that she had all the parts of a letter I taught her about 🙂

letter from Brianna

It reads “Dear Miss Moore, can you come back please.  Love Brianna”

I will be honest in saying it brought tears to my eyes!  I knew I found a special place in my heart for all of them last semester but I guess I didn’t realize how hard is was going to be not to finish the journey of first grade with them.  I understand it will be hard to say goodbye to my students at the end of each year.  I guess the only way to make it easier is to find a place I love and stay there forever so I can watch them all grow into adults.  It doesn’t make me miss room 5 any less though.

 

Yard Sale Fun

25 Jan
Now that I have officially decided to stay in Kuwait and I know what grade I will be teaching, I have started to prepare myself.  I started following blogs and twitter accounts for early childhood and accumulating toys and other must haves for my new classroom.  I have been going a little pin crazy.

This morning Lissa, Jeff, our friend Dana, and I went to a yard sale.  A lot of it was presale only so we weren’t really sure what we were going to find.  I of course was looking for toys and things for my classroom next year along with anything for the apartment I will move into in the fall.  I came up short with apartment items, but there were more toys than I could even fit into a classroom.  I ended up buying eleven puzzles, four books, a mini abacus, and a toy stroller.

Some of the puzzles are a little difficult for three year olds so I will be giving them away to some of the older grades.

I also bought myself a couple of things.  As Lissa and I were looking through the Disney movies being sold, we enjoyed reminiscing about the ones we watched as children. There were about 10 movies that we really wanted but knew we shouldn’t spend the money on.  We ended up buying The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Fern Gully, and Mary Poppins.  Lissa and Jeff bought a pizza paddle and the grand total for the toys and all was only 6 KWD or about $21.00.  This three day weekend has proven to be a success!