Friday, May 25, 2012

Phew! I Think I Can, I Think I Can

Today I turned in my Masters' Thesis and I was so relieved after I hit the send button on my email. This last 11 months have been incredibly rewarding but also extremely exhausting. I'll be glad for the tiny break that I'll have between graduation and applying for positions in the schools.

For my thesis I studied the influence of specifically taught study skills on vocabulary acquisition. I had to conduct my own research, analyze the data, and then write a paper to boot. However, it was such an awesome experience to be able to conduct research in the classroom outside of standardized testing and benchmarks.

I used a mnemonic strategy and a semantic mapping strategy. Low and behold, my students did way better on their vocab quizzes when they had used the mnemonic strategy (LINCs) to study. The also loved the LINCs strategy. If you've never heard of it you should look it up.

Here's a picture of what one of my students did for the word tenant

They really had a lot of fun and after my research they asked if they could do the LINCs tables in lieu of their regular vocabulary homework.

Ahhh sweet success.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Best of Pinterest Linky Party

Pinterest is the greatest thing since sliced bread, especially since I am an organization nut/a planner/a future-liver (definitely one of my greatest flaws). I've found so many cute ideas not only for my classroom but also ideas that will sate my crafty tendencies and that will help me plan my future wedding. Which is why I was stoked when I found this fantastic linky party. Oh and if you would like to follow me on Pinterest click here.

But onwards and upwards to the linky party hosted by Rachel at Views from 205.

Top 5 Best Pins

5. Conversation Jenga

An awesome first couple days of school activity where students play Jenga and have a conversation at the same time. A super fun twist on the getting to know you game.

4. Glitter Jars

Even though my boyfriend hasn't proposed yet (we're looking at rings this coming weekend :D). This was an awesomely easy idea to make wedding center pieces that are glittery and fun. I was thinking that I could recreate this with white glitter and it would be to die for. 

3. Living on Less that 28,000/yr blog

I was super excited to find this post considering I just took out a ton of money to pay for this last year of grad school. Also, consider I'm going to be a teacher I needed to learn how to live on a budget/save up to potentially own property one day. This blog was not only informative but it was extremely inspiring. If you would like to see this blog for yourself/the picture above links to it :)

2. Boggle Bulletin Board for Fast Finishers

This was a great little bost and I actually made this in small scale for Word Work for my first graders, they loved it. 

1. Classroom Management Behavior Chart

This was by far my favorite thing I've ever found on Pinterest, I've actually repinned a couple of versions of this because I love it so much. I was very used to the behavior card system in my fifth/first grade classroom, but in both there was no upward movement available for students. However, I really like the idea of a visual reward system especially for students who are going above and beyond and exceeding normal expectations. I am most definitely making this over the summer to have ready for my classroom come August. 

So ladies, that about somes it up! You should go and join the linky party. What are some of your favorite things about Pinterest? 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crawling Towards the Finish Line

This last week has been a godsend because I have been able to relax and wrap my head around the fact that come August I will be a certified teacher with my own classroom and everything. However, I have approximately 19 days until I can even begin to think like that. Graduation is June 2 and even though it doesn't seem that far away, I feel like it is taking forever because classes are not compulsory right now.

I saw this linky party and I thought it would be a great little blog post to do so I can keep the ball rolling with my new blog. The point of the linky party was to post what went great this year and what went not so great this year. Considering I've been in the classroom for the majority of this year I thought I could definitely contribute!!

The Good

1. Departmentalizing
This year my mentor and the other fifth grade teachers departmentalized. My teacher and I mostly taught Science and Social Studies. We had a Flex group and we still did Whole-group reading with our own class. Departmentalizing was an AMAZING experience!! Not only did it make planning easier, but it was a huge confidence boost to be able to teach something that I was extremely confident in teaching. It was also awesome to get to know all 86 fifth graders, not just the 27 in my class.

2. Time Management
Holy Moly! In order to make sure I could actually complete this year with flying colors I had to focus on my time management skills and decide which assignments needed to come first and which assignments could wait. Time management didn't only benefit my graduate school performance but it also helped my pacing in the classroom. Pacing was one aspect of teaching that was incredibly hard for me to figure out because the experience I had before this program was so minimal, but as soon as I realized what fifth graders could and could not do in the time allotted, we got so much accomplished together.

3. Hands-On Learning

Because my mentor teacher departmentalized this year with the other fifth grade teachers I was able to see how amazing Hands-On Learning was first hand. In Science, mostly because of the Science MSA this year, the kids got to do tons of experiments and investigations in the Science Lab. The amount that they achieved was amazing. I think that making experiences real for students is incredibly important. I can remember times in my own education where we did hands on experiments and those are some of the sharpest memories I have of my education. In my own classroom, if at all possible I want to be able to do as many hands-on experiments and situations as possible (but not so many that the kids get burned out on them). 

The Not-So-Good

1. Teaching First Grade
Potentially, I think I could one day be a first grade teacher. However, teaching first grade this year was one of the most difficult things I had to do. In my MAT program, we teach our preferred grade for 8 months, and then we move on to a grade at the opposite end of the spectrum. It was an extremely hard transition that I only had 6 weeks to get used to and those six weeks were NOT enough

2. Eating Healthy/Working Out
Next year I'm DETERMINED to find the time to take care of my body and my mind equally.

3. Developing Positive Relationships with my Peers
All I can say is that I'm a very particular person, with a unique background and when people make generalized comments about my race as a teacher or my parental situation, it makes me not like them.

You all should join the fun and link up!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting and Staying Organized

A common theme that I've spotted in education blogs is the need to get/stay organized. This is something that, though I haven't begun my first year teaching yet, I can completely and whole-heartedly agree with.

My first placement student teaching was with a woman who was so organized that at first it scared me. But, then I realized how much easier it made things because she was so organized. Everything in this fifth grade classroom was either labeled, color coded, or had a specific place where it needed to be. Though setting this all up in the beginning of the year seemed tedious, I don't understand how classrooms could be any other way.

My second placement, in a first grade class, was not so organized. This made lesson planning and getting everything ready for the week/the day extremely exhausting. Most days I felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off because I didn't know where to find anything!

So today I was playing around on my computer and I made some labels that I will use in my own classroom for school supplies, just so students know where everything is and they don't need to ask me a million times for supplies.

Feel free to use them and take them :)

Until next time

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Currently

Stumbled across this on a couple of blogs and I thought I would give it a go. 

Link up and join the fun below

Winding Down

Now that I've finished my student teaching, I decided to create this blog. I created it so that I can not only document my experiences as a first year teacher, but also to receive tips and advice from the various veteran teachers that I follow on blogger. I hope to be able to keep up with this blog, but if the rumors are true about the first year, I'm not sure how possible that will be. However, I will remain positive, and at the very least, learn some tips and tricks from my fellow teachers.

Right now I'm going to be returning to campus to tie up some loose ends in my program. I will be finishing my Masters Research Project up as well as a few other projects, such as my ePortfolio that I had to complete for a Technology in the Classroom course. Even though my student teaching is over, I would rather be in the classroom in front of students, than be a student myself.

This year has been a whirlwind and I've been going non-stop for the last 11 months. Though it was worth it and I'm ecstatic to have my Masters degree, I will say that I am ready to have my own classroom with my own set of students to nurture and educate.