Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Currently {July 2015}

I am excited to join my buddy Farley for this month's currently.  I have been meaning to link up the past few months, but the next thing I know the month is over!  Let's jump right in...
  • Listening - I must say that I am a little disappointed with this season.  I didn't sit and binge watch it all in one night. (no judgment, but that is how I watched the last 2 seasons)
  • Loving - I bought a season pass to the water park that is like 45 minutes away from my house and I am loving it.  I have gone twice this summer and would probably go like everyday if it were closer. 

  • Thinking- Vegas is a WEEK away.  I can't wrap my mind around the fact that I am actually going this year and am not just going to be lurking on Instagram.  I want to make sure I pack everything I need, which will mean that I will over-pack.  {Deep Breath} I will get it done by Sunday, so that Monday and Tuesday can be full of sun, relaxing, and pedis. :)
  •  Wanting - I am about an hour from the coast.  (not the pretty blue water coast, but the Gulf of Mexico)  I LOVE the beach and haven't gone once since school has been out.  The beach is where I do my best reading, so I have to make sure and take a few trips this summer.
  •  Needing - Back around Memorial Day, the Houston are got massive amounts of rain, the addition to my house got flooded.  It has been sanitized and gutted, but needs to be put back together. Ya know, all the fun stuff... dry wall, painting, baseboards, new floors, etc.  I have been working this week on getting estimates.  I want it completed before going back to school. My living room and extra room have been invaded with extra furniture and it is trying this type A person nuts!
  •  All-Star: I am definitely an all star at sticking my foot in my mouth.  Words come out quicker than they are processed in my noggin.  Luckily, that is something I have been working on.  Here's to hoping it works in Vegas! :)
Enough rambling... head over and link up!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Reflect & Refresh {Part 1} - Looking Back

I know I'm joining the party a little late, but reflecting is a big part of growing as an educator so I knew I had to join the party even if I was fashionably late.  Even though it was my 10th year of teaching, it was my first year to teach 8th grade.  There were many things that I know need to change for next year, but I am proud of several things I was able to implement with success.
  • I posted my lesson plans to my school website every Friday afternoon before leaving school.  The parents LOVED this.  They knew exactly what homework their kid had for the week and when upcoming tests were.   In 8th grade, you are trying to have students be as independent as possible to get them ready for high school, so this was a resource that they were able to use to help organize their week nights accordingly.
  • I also am big on making contact with a parent before the student gets home for the day.  I am not just talking about if they get into trouble, but also if they have had an accomplishment.  I had a student that got commended on the state test and did twice as well as she had done the previous year.  I called her mom between class periods to let her know the amazing news.  She was so glad that I called so that she could surprise her daughter after school with a mom/daughter treat night.  
Organization & Classroom Management:
  • I have used the same organization strategy for the last several years and it has help me be prepared for each day immensely. I have a 5 drawer organizer behind my desk.  Each drawer is labeled for a day of the week.  I put all of the resources I need for each day in the individual drawers, so that when that day comes everything is together in one place.  No hunting for a mentor text or a paper that I need.
  • My favorite classroom management tool I used this year was positive postcards.  Each student got at least one postcard from me this year.  I had 140, but if you spread it out the year it is not a hard task to complete.  I made sure that those students who often struggle with making good choices had several go home with them this year.  {Parents and students don't expect something like this when they are in 8th grade, but they loved them!}
  • I am blessed to teach in a small school district, which mean myself and the other 8th grade ELA teacher got to sit down and decide out scope & sequence.  We have it organized by genres.  From the tougher genres to the easier genres, so that we would pull in and review the harder ones throughout the school year. This is what we came up with:

My Big Summer Project:
  • In Texas, we have Lone Star books that are recommended for the students to read each year.  I like to read at least 3/4 of them, so that I am knowledgeable about them when students ask.  I also have several books that are on my list to read to help me update novels for the class to read next year.
  • Our school is big on AR.  I am not a fan at all.  Last year the teachers came up with something for the students to do with the books they read.  I didn't like it because they were not reading for fun and a lot of the better readers were deterred from reading as much as they normally would.  I am trying to find a way to include independent reading without having to take AR tests.  I have an idea, but have to run it by the other 8th grade teacher to see if she will buy into it.  Fingers crossed she likes it!
What worked for you this year?  Head over to link up!
Thanks so much Stephanie for hosting this!  Don't forget to check back around August 8th to see how I am Looking Forward & Refreshing my teaching!