Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wrapping it Up

My last full week in the classroom with the students! We have a lot of wrapping up to do. This week we will listen to the podcasts the students made about the regions of the United States of America and taking quizzes on them, encasing eggs in various materials in an attempt to keep their fragile shells from cracking, graphing Lucky Charms (and various other data), and wrapping up our literary essays. Busy, busy fourth graders!

I am still in the classroom Monday and Tuesday, but my mentor takes over again (which I'm sure will feel different for me, as I have been planning and teaching the class since February). Almost everything for Illinois State University is done and uploaded, so things are coming to a close all around. Two projects left, but they involve me unleashing my inner creative mind, so of course, I will have a blast.

Saying goodbye to my students will not be easy, but I feel I am ready to embark on the journey of continual learning through a classroom of my own. Applications are in and I am trusting in God to lead me to the school I will be best suited for, as I know He will provide!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Graphing and Technology

Great Kid Friendly website to enter data and make graphs:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fantasy and Science Fiction

I got a free copy of Fantasy and Science Fiction the bimonthly edition for free with the promise to blog about this issue. I was excited to receive it, as we are currently reading the science fiction genre in my fourth grade classroom, and I can always use more resources. I had never heard of this magazine, until another educational blog pointed me in the direction of their website. I have to say, it has been some good reading.

What is Fantasy and Science Fiction bimonthly? It is a collection of authors who write-you guessed it: fantasy and science fiction! They are short stories, but the bimonthly editions are certainly not. My free edition was 254 pages! Intertwined with the stories are fantasy and science fiction books to read including the authors and approximate retail prices. I was disappointed that the books they chose to showcase were mostly over $25. Although they are new releases within the past couple of years, so I suppose that is to be expected. Nothing I would buy for my classroom anytime soon.

Although I was looking forward to my highest reading group (6th grade level) being able to read a short story in guided reading, I'm not sure this will be a resource to use in that fashion. Although I have not read it all, the ones I have read are at a higher reading level than sixth grade, are graphic in nature and not appropriate for students. A great read for mature adults, or even young adults, but not appropriate for ten year olds. Don't get me wrong, I don't intend to shelter my children, as literature is a fine way to introduce concepts that are difficult to discuss. Some of these stories just do it in a more graphic manner than I am willing to undertake. The vocabulary is the biggest deterrent for using this as a resource. Although I could read it aloud and break down the vocabulary, it would be a long process and I was looking more for something to fit in the span of a week.

Overall, a fine read for ages 15 and up. Not recommended for younger audiences.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Multi-Step Project

I had previously written that my students are doing a research project on various regions of the United States of America. The students are recording their research in a class blog. Many are coming along nicely, some need to be revised and some need to be finished.

Since this is an online blog, no names are posted. The security is very strict, as I had to create a guest user name so that others could read our blog (mainly family members). The site is and the guest user name is: FamilyMember with the password being wilson Should you be interested in seeing how these are coming along, you can view them at that location. Because it is set up as a guest account, you can not comment on the blogs or edit them. It is a read only account. I love this about the particular blog site I chose to use.

We have also begun the pod-casting process. The students are excited about this level of the project. Once they are finished and posted on the classroom website, I will post a link for you to listen.

It is a challenge with various groups at different stages of the project. Our classroom is fortunate to have 5 computers in the classroom to use, but with a class of 26 students, it is difficult to get them all done in a timely manner. I have developed an extension activity because of this. I am new to using a blog within the classroom as well as a podcast (the one I made to tell the students how to use it was my first ever!) I love that my school has the resources to be able to incorporate technology into the classroom!

There are definitely challenges, but all in all it is coming along nicely. Today I wanted to have three or four of me in the classroom, as many students had questions about various stages of the project-yet that is all part of the fun. Trying to juggle all the questions and help everyone in a timely manner. I am thankful my mentor teacher has been leaving the room and leaving this up to me to handle by myself. I know this will prepare me for when I have a classroom of my own-which I hope is soon!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

8 Months in and Still Learning

The name of my blog adequately describes my experience as a teacher. I am forever learning. I do not think the learning process will ever still. Not that I want it to-learning is half of the fun!

Yesterday I continued to grow in understanding a particular student who has a tendency to get angry and explode when he does not understand what is being taught in the classroom. We had just begun long division, a topic that is difficult for students to grasp, as it is not easily taught in a concrete manner. Many students were struggling and while I was helping them, I mentally was trying to think of different ways to reteach the concept. I noticed the above student was frustrated. When I approached him he looked up and me and said, "I don't get it" in an already defeated tone of voice. When I inquired further to what parts he was confused on his face became red (a sign of him starting to become angry) and he said, "all of it". I remained calm, while completely in tune to his body language and other mannerisms that I know from experience happen before blow up.

Then I did something so simple (something I do with all of my students) that I was surprised by the reaction. I asked him what I could do to help him learn, to which I received a shrug of the shoulders. Then I encouraged him and worked through the problem with him (fully expecting the white board and marker to be thrown across the room when he reached his boiling point).

His face returned to its normal shade and he looked up at me. He said, "oh, I can do that" and went about finishing the problem. I looked up at my mentor and she smiled. In my head the "hallelujah" chorus was playing. I am still not sure if it was the encouragement, calm tone, or if a light bulb lit up in his brain, but I am thankful for the avoidance of an explosion. I firmly believe if I had seen him three minutes later it would have been a much different outcome.