Monday, January 28, 2013

Lesson Plan Sunday

  It is currently Sunday afternoon and I am sitting as close to the sun as possible while working on lesson plans for the week.  I've been looking for the most efficient lesson planning strategy and have found for me just paper and pencil work the best.  I've tried and a couple other lesson plans sites but haven't found one that allows you to structure lessons the way I like them.  I'd love to hear how everyone else plans lessons.
   The best way I have found is to create a little map on paper that outlines the standards I want to teach that week along with the topics and vocabulary I want to cover.  Then I go back and write down what day I want to teach them on.  After I know what topics I want to teach then I go through my resources and lay out everything I want to use in order.  The last thing I do is actually write up the lesson plans onto a template to turn in to my principal.

Friday, January 25, 2013

January Currently

I know I'm a bit late on doing Farley's currently this month but it is still January so here it goes.

Currently I am very happy with how things are going for me at work.  I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of things and am being a better teacher for my students.  Being a first year teacher, along with a cheerleading coach has been very difficult.  However, I've done a lot of praying and reflecting and have finally found what works for me.

Right now, I'm thinking about what to do with this extra free time because cheerleading is almost over and I will finally have time for me!  I'm not going to know what to do with myself in a couple of weeks.  I look forward to getting into a workout routine and to hopefully finding a young adult bible study I can get involved in.

Today was an early release day due to the wintry mix we had.  It was pointless to try to teach anything today.  The kids were excited and we were interrupted by announcements of early dismissals every other minute.  We made it through the day though and now it is the weekend!  I think I'll be getting some grading and planning done while taking some time to myself before the playoff games start next week!

I hope everyone has a safe weekend during this Winter storm.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A productive workday

     We had an optional workday today which is literally the best thing a teacher could ask for!  A day with no meetings and a chance to get caught up is just what I needed.  To start the day I finished all my grading for the second quarter and sent in my report card marks.  I then decided I wanted to get cleaned and reorganized so I went through my cabinets.  In the process of this I found some things I bought at the beginning of the school year that I had forgotten about. The rest of my day was filled with planning and making things. Here are a few things I made today:

These are group discussion questions I put on each table for groups to use during literature circles. I'm hoping that they rarely have to use them but if they get stuck without things to talk about then I'll have them use these.

I found this idea on Pinterest and thought it was too cute not to make! My students have already been taking turns at different jobs but I thought this was a better way to keep them organized.  I have index cards in each of the pockets that I can change every two weeks.

I made these discussion dollars to also aid in literature circle discussions.  Each student will get 3 dollars that they will have to "spend" in the 5 minutes they have to discuss what they read that day.  I wanted to do these because I've noticed at least one or two students at each group who never contribute to discussion.

What goals do you have on workdays?   Wouldn't it be nice if there was a workday every month?

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow Day Planning

    Today was supposed to be a required teacher workday but instead it is a snow day.  Silly me didn't believe the weather and didn't bring home any work to do.  In attempt to get something done I've been working on my Ancient Greece unit.  For each country I teach I usually go into the geography, daily life, religion and then go into more specifics from there.  I've noticed my students struggle with seeing how these different topics relate to each other.  For example, my students understand geography and how it impacts a country but how geography impacts daily life or religion is harder for them to see.
   For Ancient Greece I am planning on having my students tell a story about a person living in Ancient Greece.  To start out the unit they will be creating paper dolls that I found online and naming their character.  I am also giving them a brainstorming sheet to fill in throughout the unit that will help them later tell their story.  I am going to grade the story as a means of summative assessment instead of giving an open note test like I usually door.  I'm hoping this assignment will help my students think more critically and see the connection between each area they learn about.
   To find the paper dolls I'm using click here. If you'd like to see the story map I made to use click here.   What strategies do you use to help students think critically in the content areas?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Developing Patience

   Being a first year teacher in the mist of a whole new curriculum is very stressful.  One of my biggest challenges lately is having patience with myself and my students.  There never seems to be enough time to do all I feel I need to and my reaction is usually to become short-tempered.  Now that I'm realizing how silly I have been for letting every little thing get to me I'm working hard to improve my level of patience.  I read a really great bible verse about patience that spoke to me.  It's from Colossians 3:12, "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."  I need to remember that in order to have patience I have to deliberately clothe myself with that type of Christ-like attitude. 
   Specifically I think it will be helpful if I start getting to school earlier each morning.  The days that I feel 100% prepared are usually the days when I am very patient and much happier.  How do you handle the stresses of teaching?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wrapping Up Ancient China

I'm at the end of my Ancient China unit.  It ended up taking a lot longer than planned.  I probably spent 3 weeks covering it when I should have only spent about a week and a half.  However, with the Christmas break and other things going on it took much longer to get through all I wanted to.

What went well:

Getting students interested in China.  I started with teaching students a very basic Chinese phrases.  They learned how to say "hello," "how are you," "thanks," "please," and "thank you."  I also gave them a chance to practice calligraphy and write some Chinese characters.  We talked about the food in ancient China and how the housing they had then compared to the housing we have in America.

The structure of my lessons.  I have been starting each Social Studies class by watching CNN Student News, followed by a journal prompt.  My students generally enjoy watching the news and it gets them quiet and focused for the lesson.  After the news I started by teaching the content with a powerpoint, notes or an article.  I usually like to do more student directed learning but with all the dynasties and vocabulary in China, I found it better to teach and then let them do some sort of activity.

Integrating inferencing skills.  I am trying to push my students to infer rather than think on the surface. One way I did this was by teaching about different Chinese philosophers and then having my kids try to figure out which quote each philosopher said.  My students thought they were playing a game so they actually enjoyed trying to make educated guesses.

What could have went better:

My knowledge on Ancient China.  I need to study more on how to pronounce all the dynasties and terms used. I also was learning along with them so hopefully next year I will have more time to study before teaching the content.

Too much content, too little review.  I taught my students A LOT of vocabulary and events that took place in Ancient China.  I taught them so much that it became hard to find time to review what we had previously talked about.  Next time I need to teach only what is in the curriculum guide.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

For School:

1) To plan better activities for homeroom. Planning activities for homeroom has been such a chore.  When I get to the school in the morning all I want to do is get completely settled in for the day.  I need to be remediating for Language Arts so I hope to start spending more time preparing helpful lessons to use during homeroom.  This may require me getting to work earlier but it's something that needs to be done.

2)  Keep my desk more organized.  My desk seems to always be overloaded with stacks of papers.  I think I need to get a bin or something to put papers in that need to be graded so that I have some room on my desk.

3) Be a happier coach.  Coaching cheerleading has taken a lot out of me because of the extra time requirements.  


1)  Eat breakfast everyday.  I have got to start making time to eat breakfast.  I rush from the time I wake up until the time I get home at the end of the day.  It may be helpful for me to start packing something like yogurt to eat during my morning planning period.

2) Read the bible more often. It would be great if I could get into a routine of reading the bible at a certain time everyday.  Right before bed doesn't seem to work well for me as sometimes I'll say "I'm too tired so I'll just pray."


1)  I need to take more pictures for my blog and update it at least once a week.  It got very hard in December to update my blog often. I will try to find more time this year as it's important to me to reflect on my teaching practices.

Most importantly I just want to be a more happier person overall.  I hope that after having some experience teaching now that I can become a little more stress free and try to enjoy every day I am given!

What are your resolutions?
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