Education · PreK class

Changes and color mixing

This week we are learning about color mixing in school. We are doing a walking water color experiment and colored ice cubes mix. The children will color on coffee filters with markers and then wet the filters to let the colors bleed together. We are also doing rainbow writing with their names and sorting pom poms by color.

Water walk color experiment: You fill cups with water (I used 9 cups) set the cups in sets of three. Put color into the outside cups and leave the middle cup with just water. Then put paper towel “bridges” between the cups. The water will begin to wick up from the colored water cup into the plain water cup. Then the two colors will mix together. This took a LOT more food coloring than I expected. I ended up having to put food coloring right at the top of the “bridge” to get it to mix. But in the end, it worked and the children got to see yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple, and red and yellow make orange.

Colored ice melt: Fill and ice cube tray with water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the sections to color the ice red, blue and yellow. Once frozen, you can put the ice into clear cups and then let the ice melt together. As it melts you should see the colors begin to mix. When we do this I will also add a cup that has red, yellow and blue so they can see it mix together into brown.

Coffee filter color mixing. This is a process based art activity. The children draw on coffee filters with markers. Then you have them use pippets to drop water onto the filter a few drops at a time. The marker colors will then begin to bleed and blend. Often times you will also see the colors separate. This is really cool when the black starts to separate into other colors.

Rainbow writing is a great way to help children master writing words. You write a word in one color, pencil or black works best. Then you have the children choose 3 or more crayons. The children have to write on top of the word you wrote with each of the three crayons, layering each on top of the last color. The more you write it the more colorful it becomes, and writing in layers of crayon helps build up the “feel” of the paper. (I often had my first graders use this method to practice spelling words)

Our poem this week is very simple and the children are already mastering it. I wrote it out on chart paper writing each line in the color word at the beginning. I then added quick illustrations to help them remember the last word. The children then had to illustrate their copy of the poem for their poetry journal.

Colors

Orange is a carrot.

Yellow is a pear.

Green is the grass.

Brown is a bear.

Purple is a plum.

Blue is the sky.

Black is a witch’s hat.

Red is cherry pie.

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Education · PreK class

Changes and Names (school post)

Each month I will pick a different over all theme for the month. Then each week we will look at a different aspect within that theme.

For the month of September, our first month of school, I choose the theme of changes. Oh and let me tell you we are having some major changes. Some of my students have never been in any type of school setting before.  Others have, but it was not very structured and they were pretty much allowed to do what they wanted to do. That won’t work for me. While I know this is Pre-K and they need time to play, I’m pretty much known for developing a great structure and routine to my classroom day. We will get there!

For this first week, we are focusing on our names. I expected this to be a quick fun week knowing that I’d need to work on switching some children from writing their names all in capital letters over to writing their names with just one capital and the rest lowercase. I was shocked to see how many of my students did not even recognize their name in print, nevermind be able to write it. A few the struggle was the fact that they knew how to read their nickname, but I didn’t know that they were called by a nickname when I labeled everything in the classroom. Oh well, they will at least learn to read their given name.

Our poem this week is called Everybody Has a Name. We are working on learning this poem using echo reading. Having worked with K students so long and never having to actually teach this skill, I was surprised at how many children did not know how to just repeat what I said. It is getting better, but I still have some looking at me like I just read the line in a foreign language. Again… it’s week 1 and I know thing will get better as the year progresses.

Our 3 must do stations this were were covering their name with colored squares (these are being hung in the classroom), drawing a self portrait for our class-book, and illustrating the poem. Each week we will take a children’s book and rework it into a class book. This time around we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. We are rewriting it as Friend, Friend Who Do You See?.

Everybody Has a Name

By Jean Warren

Everybody has a name
Some are different
Some the same

Some are short
Some are long
All are right
None are wrong

My name is___________
It’s special to me
It’s exactly who
I want to be

 

Education · life · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Orientation Day

Today was the day! It was the day when my K-Prep kiddos got the opportunity to see our classroom for the first time. It was also the opportunity for their parents to come in and see where they will be learning and playing.

I had to give the school’s Orientation power point, which meant I was speed talking. I’m also not used to having the children in the room when I have to give these types of presentations to the parents. This meant my voice had to get louder and louder to talk over the children who were working on a quick project in the back of the room.

Oh well… it is done. Onto tomorrow our first day of class. I should have 17 of my 19 students tomorrow, but 3 did not show up today and at least one parent told me they will be on vacation next week, of course I totally forgot who that was 3 minutes after they told me. Information overload!

As promised, here are a few pictures of my classroom.

Education · family · life · through my camera lens

First day of school

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This has been a great summer for us. Hershey, trains, mountain biking and lots more. But that time of year has come: back to school.

P1000335Today is the boys’ first day of school. They were up and ready to go. While there may have been a bit of nervous energy, they were excited to get back to it. Both boys enjoy school. They enjoy learning and exploring knowledge. Blake thrives off the routine of the school year. Colby was psyched to go see his friends and find new ones too.

It’s hard to believe that Blake is starting 6th grade. Sixth grade is such a huge transformation grade. This is the time where kids go from being kids to being a younger version of their adult self. Yes, I know they still aren’t even teens, but trust me this is the year that so much growing and maturing in personality and maturity happens.

Colby is starting 5th grade. While the change isn’t as dramatic from 4th to 5th there is stillP1000337 a change.

This will be Blake’s last year at the school he is in now. He will have 4 teachers instead of 2. This is the school’s way of getting them ready for middle school. Next year the boys will be in two different schools, they haven’t had that since Blake was in K and Colby in preK.

I can only hope that they learn, grown and mature. That they take on challenges. That they push themselves to expand their knowledge base and learn. I want them to make mistakes, failure is a good thing… it is the means to growth. I want them to hold their heads up high and know that they’ve got this…. no matter what this is!

Education · life

School Supply Lists

It’s back to school time. Which means it is time to hear people complain. Let the complaining begin, or should it?

You will start seeing/hearing/reading about people complaining about supply lists. I know both sides of these lists. And, while I understand the issues, I also understand why these list exist.

So… here!

Why do teachers send supply lists in the first place? Because school systems do not supply materials for classroom use. I’ve worked in schools where teachers get a $25 budget to buy resources for the classroom… do you know how far this goes for 18-22 children? Back to school time is the time that items are on sale. So while your child may not use 50 pencils in September, he/she will use/lose that many during the school year. Plus most classroom teachers have to share specific supplies with special area teachers (art, music, library, computer lab, pe … etc)

Why do teachers ask for specific brands? After teaching for many years you get to know classroom supplies. We realize that it is cheeper to buy store brand, but it won’t last as long. Crayola crayons color in true color and most other crayon colors are slightly off. Friskar scissors are the sharpest and do not break. I’ve had students with off brand scissors have the scissors break during the year. These kids are NOT gentle with their supplies. We do not get money from these brands, we are just trying to find the ones that will last the longest. Trust me it is worth a bit more investment now instead of having the teacher/your child ask you to replace the items later because they are broken, dried out or totally lost.

When teachers ask for specific color folders, notebooks or other items, they have a system in place that uses these colors to help your child get organized. They are not trying to make it so your daughter can’t have the super cute folder she wants. They want to be able to say take out your red writing folder. Or pull out your green science notebook. This helps speed the process of transitioning between subjects.

Think of this, your child’s teacher is having to store these items in the classroom for future use. But, as I stated most of the items teachers ask for on back to school lists are on sale at this time of the year. When grade level lists have to be created teachers spend a lot of time hashing over what to ask for and where to store the items until they will be used.

As a teacher, I often find it quite humorous that the parents who are the most forceful on everything being equal are the ones who often complain the most about having to buy a specific brand item. This isn’t about being equal, or trying to make parents spend too much money or any of the things you think. The teachers are attempting to figure out everything your child will need to be successful. If you question a product, ask the teacher what it will be used for, they will tell you.

For example, I overheard a parent a few years ago complaining that their kindergartner needed dry erase markers. The parent was saying… how many markers will a teacher go through in a year. My child will probably never even get to use the marker on the board. Where if the parent asked they would probably find out that every child in that classroom will most likely have a lap size whiteboard that will be used in the learning process.

Parents… Teachers are not trying to make you go broke. They are not trying to punish you. They are not even mildly attempting to be unreasonable in their requests. Just remember that if they do not ask for these resources now they will either have to ask later (when parents are less likely to buy since they won’t be on sale) or buy the items themselves. I know myself and most teachers I know spend a LOT of their own money for the classroom. If you can’t afford items the teachers will not make your child’s life miserable, the teacher will just go out and buy the items him/herself.

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit Part 2- parents and educators

I wrote a few week ago about reading the book Grit, by Angela Duckworth. You can read that post here. I still haven’t finished the book, sorry it is going so slowly but it is deep and I feel like I need to read some and then digest it before reading more.

As the title of my blog states, going from being a teacher to being a mother is not always as easy as it sounds. When I read the section on teachers and helping children develop grit and such, I was like… that’s me… that’s how I run my class. I’m not sure I have provided my sons the grit they need, but that too is addressed in the book.

Angela Duckworth addresses parenting and the development of grit. She discussed two different types of parents. One being the parents of quarterback Steve Young. They pushed Steve to excel. They wouldn’t let him quit. Steve Young stated that he became a stronger player because his father pushed him to go beyond the basics. He was never satisfied with ok, he needed to be the best. It didn’t matter what he did, he had to do it to the best of his ability. One could state the Steve Young’s parents believed in the philosophy of tough love, they were there for their children, but the children had to step up and do beyond their best.

The second set of parents were the parents of Francesca Martinez, who is now a comedian in Britain. Francesca was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age two. Her parents did not push her in any direction. They allowed her to figure out life on her own. The supported her and the decisions that she made. They allowed her to leave her formal education at 16 and focus on following her dreams of acting on tv. Her brother also dropped out of school to become a portrait painter. Her parents state that they didn’t over indulge the children nor did they spoil them, they believed in “no-nonsense parenting”, “follow your dreams parenting”.

While these parents may seem on opposite ends of the spectrum they have a few things in common. Both parents were child-centered in the aspect of putting their children’s interest first. They were not trying to relive their own dreams through their children. They supported their children and helped them, in very different ways, realize their true potential.

She encourages parents to develop a warm, supportive and respectful relationship with their children. There is a need for rules and high expectations to foster the grit needed for success. Children need to view you being gritty if you want them to become gritty. When children understand that everyone works hard in what they do and love to do they will understand that they too need to work hard.

We as parents need to look at effort, work ethics in their children. They need to show the same passion and perseverance in their own life. We need to model that the effort is just as important if not more important than skill/talent. We need to stop praising children for each step, but instead point out what they could do to make things better. Not being super criticizing, just letting them know you know they can do more.

In the classroom you will often see teachers tell their student that they know they can do more/better than they are doing now. I often could be heard telling my stuggling readers that I know they can read, that I need them to realize they can read. That I need them to do x,y,z to become stronger at whatever topic/subject we are working on at the time. An outstanding teacher sets the bar higher than each child can achieve and pushes the individuals to reach and exceed the bar.

The challenge with parenting is so often you are just excited to see the littler steps in your children. You find yourself cheering the children on for each step instead of pushing them to see where they can grow. As parents we often forget to set the bar high enough so the children have a place to grow towards. Do we show our children what we are working towards? Do they see that even adults need grit? That each step of the process is a step towards a long term goal? She states that we need to create an environment that acknowledges the rule “If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. If you don’t, you won’t”. Parents need to stop making life easy for their kids and start helping their children see that hard work pays off.

Angela Duckworth discusses that with her own children she talks about them each having a ” A Hard Thing” to work on. The children have to pick their own hard task, and they had to stick with it for the whole season/session/ whatever you paid for. She has one daughter who found her hard thing in playing the piano as her hard thing. Whereas her other daughter has bounced around trying a variety of different things, finally landing on the viola. She also explained to her children that her work and her husband’s work were their hard thing and that they worked hard at the things needed to be successful in  their careers. The parents also have a physical activity that they consider their hard thing.

Duckworth discovered that colleges and universities look for students who stick with activities. They also discovered through research that students who stick with a given activity for at least two years in high school are more likely to be successful in the college years. This shows an additional level of grit.

How can we help? Stop focusing on and praising the steps. Show how they can improve and get better going forward. Give children specific tasks to work on and improve. Model grit and the understanding that hard work pays off. Provide opportunities for children to choose their hard thing and then have the stick with it. Let them interact with others (teachers, coaches, etc…) who can push them to excel and see their own potential. Recognize that finding the right thing is hard, but it is necessary. When you have passion for something you have the drive to work hard. You want to succeed and move forward in the learning of the activity.

I promise at least one more post on grit once I finish the book!

book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.

 

 

Education

Quick Question to Ponder!

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So as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have to write an essay for the teacher application. I’m almost done with it! I have to write the closing paragraph and then go back and edit. Richard started editing it for me last night too. I love getting another’s perspective on what I write, especially in formal situations.

Image result for outstanding educatorAnyway… the topic is the qualities of an outstanding teacher. I dropped my former principal an e-mail and asked her suggestion on which topic to address and we agreed this was a good one.

So, it has got me thinking. I know what I believe makes an outstanding teacher/educator, but what do others think? What do other teachers think? What do people who are not in the profession thing? Does it differ once you have kids? Does it reflect the teachers who impacted you or is it based on some stereotype of educators?

So… help me out. What qualities do you feel an outstanding educator should possess??

Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.

life

blogger laziness and a bit of rambles

Yesterday I was a slacker blogger. You may have noticed that I just popped off a quick post at the end of the day yesterday. I was at the school from 7:20 until 2:00 helping out with the Science Olympiad. It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast. Colby came home from school exhausted as I’m sure most of the kids did. This was their last school day before testing starts, so that was a fun way to prep for state testing. Blake has testing the next 2 weeks and Colby has testing the next 3 weeks.

I also didn’t read anyone else’s blog yesterday, that is normally a morning time thing for me, so I tried to plow through a lot of them today. I try to keep up with most of the bloggers who leave comments on my blog. I always feel this is the start of a conversation/ a kinship/ a something and when I know that you are reading and commenting on my blog, then I’m more drawn into reading yours on a regular basis. Others, I tend to read if they peek my interest. Am I the only one who blogs this way?

This week has been a revisiting of winter for us. We had some type of snow every day and woke up to a little over an inch of accumulated snow today again. Ok… I’m done with winter now. Can we move onto spring?

This weekend will be a slow keep life simple weekend. We will try to stay on our normal routines and get the kids to bed at a reasonable time. I really hate state testing, yes I know I’m a teacher, yes I know there is a need for accountability, but this still doesn’t feel like it is it. At least here in this school district (or at least this school) they don’t stress the kids out as much over the whole thing. My sons don’t feel the pressure as much as they did in FL.

This coming week also finds me finally going and taking the PA teacher tests. I am not stressing out over this… it is what it is. I am not going to study. I’m not going to do anything but show up and take the test. I’m totally in the mode of if it is meant to be I’ll be fine.  If not… Oh well. (part of me know that I’ll be totally ticked with myself if I don’t pass… I don’t do failure well!)

Well… time to get ready to head to the gym. I wonder what the boys will do this week in their little lifters class? I’m dragging and my throat is scratchy so we will see how much energy I have for working out today. But… I’m going and that is a start.

Happy Saturday!