Update!

I have been so overwhelmed with student teaching that I have failed to update this blog! Here are some highlights from the last couple of months:

  • We finished our Little House Unit. The kids loved it. One boy even started tapping the trees in his backyard and got his dad to build him a giant fire to boil the sap down to syrup, just like Laura’s Pa and Grandpa did.
We made a class "patchwork quilt". We each decorated a "patch" to describe us.

We made a class “patchwork quilt”. We each decorated a “patch” to describe us.

For the culminating activity, students worked together to create games based on the novel.

For the culminating activity, students worked together to create games based on the novel.

We had fun playing each other's games!

We had fun playing each other’s games!

  • I survived parent-teacher conferences.
  • I taught full time for five weeks, plus part time for at least three weeks. It was awesome, but so much work.
My school let me go through some of their books.

My host school let me go through some of their books.

FREE BOOKS FTW!

FREE BOOKS FTW! I took so many that they are still in the school basement. I literally have no room for them.

  • My host school hired me as their summer school teacher. Wahoo!
  • I finished my 4th grade placement (12 weeks total) and was very sad to leave!
My kiddos made me a book and gave me some oreos. I love them!

My kiddos made me a book and gave me some oreos. I love them!

  • I ACCEPTED MY FIRST JOB! I will be a middle school English teacher AND a K-12 Librarian. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!

Now, I am days away from being done with my middle school placement and my student teaching experience all-together. When I am done here, I will do some shadowing at the school that I will be teaching in next year. I AM SO BLESSED!

The big question is… now that I’m done, do I keep this blog going for next year?!

Little House Treats!

Little House in the Big Woods is a huge hit! We are having so much fun learning about life in the big woods of Wisconsin. This class is full of animal-lovers, so the cows, dogs, cats, panthers, deer, bears, and pigs hold their interests for sure! Last week, we read about Ma’s chores for the week and talked about how different our lives are compared to the Ingalls’.

We noticed that Laura does a great job of explaining things step by step so that readers, who may not be familiar with the task, can follow along and picture how to complete it. Laura has a great explanation of churning butter. We put it to the test! Out of my magic teacher bag (it’s huge; comparable to Mary Poppins’), I pulled out some cream and a couple of mason jars. (Pardon my facial expressions…)

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We put cream in the mason jars and shook with all of our might! While we were shaking (making butter takes a while!), students brainstormed what they know about and what they are good at so that they can write their own expository pieces.

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After much vigorous shaking, as well as some dancing, the cream became whipped, turned chunky, and finally, formed a beautiful golden lump of buttery goodness.Lucky for us, I happened to have a loaf of fresh chocolate chip banana bread with me! It was so creamy and sweet! The kids loved it and could hardly believe that they made it themselves just out of cream! Some students even told me they were going to try to make it at home.

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Since then, we have proceeded past brainstorming, drafting, and even revising. Writing is a long process! To take a break from all the work, we tested out yet another of Laura’s expository pieces: maple sugar candy. We read about how Pa and Laura’s Grandpa had to tap the maple trees to collect the sap, boil the sap down, and cool it to create delicious maple syrup. Once again, I did not tell the students that making maple sugar candy was on our plans; I wanted it to be a surprise. It did not take them long to figure out what we were making! We met the school’s wonderful cook in the kitchen and she let us watch intensely as she boiled the pure syrup.

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The 4th graders explained to her the process of extracting sap from a tree. We watched the candy thermometer rise until the syrup reached a piping 235 degrees Fahrenheit! It only boiled over twice and caught fire once. That’s not too bad, right?! We talked about how difficult it was to keep the boiling under control and how much harder it probably was for Pa and Grandpa!

Instead of pouring our candy over fresh snow, we poured it over vanilla ice cream! YUM!

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For whatever reason, the syrup didn’t solidify in the way that we thought it would. It acted more like syrup than taffy, which was still delicious! We brainstormed what could have caused the syrup to stay so thin.

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I don’t always wear a scarf with my hair in a braid, but when I do, I guess we cook stuff. I do wear other things, I promise.

It was DELICIOUS! After we waited a few minutes, it did start to thicken up. Once again, the 4th graders were so proud of themselves for making something so awesome! In the meantime, the cook ran outside and filled a pan with snow to pour the extra syrup over. It worked! We made taffy! It looked just like the taffy that Laura and Mary make in the book.

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I can’t believe we are halfway done with our book already! The students just can’t get enough of it. Many students have already started on the next books in the Little House series. There’s even a wait-list for some of them! Next week, I will start my full four-week takeover. With this group, I know that it will be a lot of fun!

Valentine’s Day!

Today, in fourth grade, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with an early out and lots of candy!

The fourth graders met with their preschool “buddies” and played Valentine’s Bingo with them in the morning. Instead of working on our Little House unit, we played a Valentine’s game of “Would You Rather”, which is the fourth graders’ favorite game. They try to make up their own for me every day after lunch. Here are some of the best I’ve heard so far:

“Would you rather dance to rock music everywhere you go or dance to polka music everywhere you go?”

“Would you rather have a beard so big that it could be seen from outer space that you have to decorate for every holiday or have a beard so big that it could be seen from outer space that always has food scraps in it?”

“Would you rather kiss a boy or jump into a pool of ketchup?”

“Would you rather eat ketchup on everything you ever eat or eat bugs?”

“Would you rather spray yourself with ketchup or spray yourself with fire extinguisher?”

Yeah, they’re pretty great. I also had to ask them to stop asking ketchup questions. I hate ketchup so I always chose the opposite. So, for Valentine’s Day we played a holiday version of would you rather. We asked questions like:

“Would you rather have bright red skin or have your heart beat so loud that everyone in the room can hear it?”

“Would you rather get a lot of valentines from strangers or one valentine from someone special?”

“Would you rather get a mushy valentine or a funny one?”

They loved it! I wanted to give them a valentine that DIDN’T include more sugar! I’ve noticed that a lot of students use chapstick, so I thought that chapstick would be a perfect non-candy item for my students, especially because the air in the school is so dry!

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Full Steam Ahead!

I’m already on week five of student teaching and I can barely keep up! I started my 3 week Language Arts unit today. The kids are really excited to read a novel and I am really excited to teach it! We are reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

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I made each student a workbook to use throughout the unit. Each workbook includes a schedule and checklist for students to follow along with, vocabulary words (with pictures, definitions, example sentences, and page numbers) for each chapter, assignments, templates, rubrics for assignments, and extra activities to extend learning. Today, we learned some background about Laura Ingalls Wilder and predicted what might happen in our novel. Most days will include centers that focus around vocabulary instruction. Today the students did a word sort, a writing activity, and vocabulary bingo!

I’ll add some pictures of the workbooks later!

I’ve stepped into a lot of roles: walking students around the school, handling questions, taking over centers, and grading. My mentor teacher has students correct work until they get the right answer so that they learn the material they did not understand. This makes for a lot of corrections! I devised a system to make my life easier.
I bought a simple metal paper holder with three trays and labeled them “need to be graded” (meaning they haven’t been looked at at all), “need to be corrected” (meaning students still need to make corrections), and “put into gradebook” (meaning students have made necessary corrections, but the grade needs to be recorded). When the grade is entered, it goes into the “go home” tray. Easy peasy!

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Then, I realized that corrections can pile up and it can be hard to find one students’ papers all at once, so I devised a system for that! I took long stickers and put them at the end of large paperclips. I write each students’ name on a sticker. Now, when I see that a student is done with their work, I can grab their bundle of papers to correct and have them work on those! Yay, organization!

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I’ll try to update more often, especially now that I’m teaching closer to full time!

“A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” -Ruth Beechick

Week One: Check ✓

I did it! I survived my first week of student teaching! I’m in a rural 4th grade classroom in Minnesota about 50 minutes from my home. I have ten awesome kids in my classroom – making for amazing one-on-one time with each student. My classroom teacher and I seem to get along really well and I’m excited to continue to work with her. I tried to finish most of my observations this week so that I can get into some real teaching soon. My mentor teacher will be gone on vacation next week, so I am excited to help the substitute out and spend more time with the kids.

I am trying to get into good routines, like packing my lunch at night, getting up before the sun, eating a healthy breakfast, and being extremely organized. I made myself a binder over break to keep all of my important documents to take back and forth from school. It’s been very helpful!

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Here’s a picture of us playing a “get to know you” skittle game!

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Monday is a professional development day at school. I’m going to get CPR certified and attend some interesting seminars and meetings. It should be very educational!

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. -Anthony J. D’Angelo