Teachers

Do what you love – Love what you do — Life Is Good Motto

Do what you love – Love what you do — Life Is Good Motto

While waiting for a flight last weekend, I spent time in the airport Life is Good store.  I must confess – I really love their merchandise.  The shelves were packed with t-shirts, sweatshirts and coffee mugs depicting icons of recreational activities and the phrase “Life is Good.”  I was tempted to purchase the sweatshirt depicting a travel trailer, a bicycle and a kayak, three of my favorite things.

Flying home, I was remembering this store.  Every t-shirt graphic displayed a picture of some type of hobby – from fishing to enjoying a cup of coffee.  Not a single picture had anything to do with work.  There were no graphics of computer screens, classrooms, meeting rooms, or spreadsheets.  While I understand the purpose of the company, it has made me think about the atmosphere of our classrooms.  Do we approach learning with a “Do what you love – love what you do” attitude?

Not all who wander are lost . . . J. R. Tolkien

Not all who wander are lost . . . J. R. Tolkien

But some of us are!  A sense of direction has never been a personal strength.  Living in Colorado certainly helps – directions can be towards the mountains or away from the mountains.  Yet, when it comes time to locate a new place, I use all the tools at my disposal.  Car destinations are plotted on mapquest, using both the map and the step by step directions.  When hiking, I stop at every posted sign, carefully following the arrows to complete the next turn! When using an old-fashioned paper map, I have to turn the map the direction I am facing to understand where I am and where I need to go.

Meeting Our Students' Needs

Meeting Our Students' Needs

Our students come in all shapes, sizes and abilities.  As teachers, we are constantly searching for ways to meet each of their educational needs. Sometimes we have a well thought out plan, while at other times meeting our students’ needs happens spontaneously. The latter happened in one of the classes that I spend time co-teaching reading and writing skills to 4th graders. We had been teaching our students how to find evidence in text to help support their answers. We first spent time just learning how to find evidence in the text before we had our students start answering questions. We then modeled and practiced writing a “Shining Star Answer” using the proof from the text. One of our struggling students needed additional work on putting these two skills together. 

The Unplanned Teachable Moments

The Unplanned Teachable Moments

Many of us are asked to use curriculum maps to help us plan our instruction. While these maps are useful and at times essential, we must also remember to watch for those teachable moments which bring learning alive to our students.

During the first weeks of school, we were reading aloud the novel Fish In A Tree,  by Linda Mulhally Hunt. Ally, the main character, is told she is “crossing the line,” and realizes her teacher is not discussing the finish line of a race. As we talked about this idiom, one student commented that his mom tells him he is “on thin ice” when he is in trouble. Another girl piped up that her parents tell her she is “in hot water.” A lively debate started over the use of water in both idioms – one water freezing and the other heated!

Data Information and Heart Knowledge

Data Information and Heart Knowledge

“Is it worth the time it takes?” 

My teammates and I have vowed to start each planning meeting asking that question. As we look at all the standards we have to teach, the assessments we’re asked to give, and the learning engagements we want to share, we quickly run out of hours in the school day. The question was central in our discussion on whether or not to give a writing assessment to our fourth graders the first week of school.

After much thought, I chose to ask my students to write to the prompt,

In your opinion, what would be the best job to have as an adult? Explain the reasons for your choice of career.

Starting the Year – “Well begun is half done.”

Starting the Year – “Well begun is half done.”

Last spring, our school district decided to do away with parents and students purchasing the necessary school supplies. Instead, the district would charge parents a supply fee and the supplies would be ordered by and delivered to the school. Three days before our annual “Meet the Teacher” night, my classroom was filled with boxes of paper, notebooks, crayons, pencils, and miscellaneous supplies needed to start the year.