Orientation has ended now and I’m ready for classes on Monday! The classroom is mostly decorated and arranged, though that will develop as the year goes on and kids help create things to put around the class. I had to move into a new room this year, but I brought a lot of stuff with me so I feel at home after a good cleaning and change of decoration. I feel really good about this school year and am really pleased with my subject assignments as well as co-teacher. I think we will get along great.
The lower board — the students sit facing this board for circle time.
Another view of the same board looking further into the class, you can see what the whole wall looks like from here. We have good light in this room.
Here is the main white board that I use when I teach at the desks. This area isn’t finished yet– I want to improve the daily schedule a lot.
The window– you can see my view is pretty bad this year. No trees to look out at and talk about the changing seasons, and lots of street sounds while I teach. I can hear every conversation people have as they walk by.
The back of the classroom– you can see the empty cubbies and the walls are pretty bare and ready for student artwork.
Teacher’s desk– you can see we’ve barely got this set up (and toy bins are knocked over as they dry). I need to get some artwork up there!
There are only two weeks left of the school year– I can’t believe it! Time’s just been flying by. I’ve been having one of those super-teacher weeks where one feels like an amazing teacher. My lessons are all going over way better than expected, the kids surprised me by learning way more than I expected, and I made progress with a student who has been frustrating me by making the same mistakes over and over again.
In speaking class on Monday we learned about different flags from around the world. You won’t believe how many flags some of these kids know– there are one or two flag gurus in each class. I also taught the kids the words “our” and “ours.” They already know what these words mean but they never use them and always say something like “This is we’re classroom” or “Whose book is this? I think it’s we’re’s.” I can see that they are sort of using logic to come to that conclusion, but no matter how many times I remind them they keep using the wrong words. So with the flags we got to practice saying “This is our flag” and “This is their flag.”
Then I had the kids work in small groups to make their own team flags. I tried to avoid certain pitfalls by forcing them to pick only 4 colors or less, and we talked about designs and symbols that they can find on real flags. I didn’t want them to just draw a picture of something random and call it a flag. We’ve never done this kind of cooperative group work before and it was very interesting to see kids so young figuring out the dynamics of working with others toward a common goal. Some kids worked brilliantly together, discussing what symbols they wanted and who would do what work. Some teams divided up the flag into sections and each kid worked on a section, which prevented fighting but didn’t create a sensible finished product. Some kids took over all the work (though I kept reminding them it was team work), and a couple of kids were grumpy about being paired with someone they felt was inferior artistically, and I kind of just laughed internally and while watching them struggle.
After the flags were finished they got to present them to the class and each person had to say something. I was impressed with their ability to make a presentation properly and make sentences about their work. They also got to use the key phrase, “This is our flag”! A few kids went all out making up a name for their country and explaining what the symbols meant. I was really impressed. After that I caught a few of the students in my class drawing flags during free time.
On Tuesday we learned about fractions in math class. We spent a little time on this earlier in the year when we learned about cutting things in equal halves and symmetry, but this week we got to learn the words for whole, half, third, quarter, fifth, sixth, etc. The kids got to play with parts of pizza pictures, and we used a couple of worksheets to practice. One of them is from Education.com (click the thumbnail to visit) and another I made and will have to upload later. I remember it was pretty hard to teach this concept last year, but this year the kids caught on so quickly.
On Wednesday we learned about the solar system. This year I was very impressed with the kids’ knowledge about the planets, even in English. They knew a lot of facts about the planets and were really excited. We made a mobile of the solar system and watched this awesome video. It’s one of my favorites to teach throughout the year– it’s very slow and makes the kids calm, which I like:
Today in speaking class we learned some adjectives and how to use them to make comparative sentences like “Sally is taller than Tom.” Most kids already know how to make this kind of sentence, but they frequently say “Sally is more taller than Tom” or “The Sally is taller than the Tom,” so it was good to practice and iron out those small points. First we brainstormed adjectives that describe people. They don’t know the word “adjective” yet, but they understood the concept after I gave a few examples. I was really impressed with my homeroom class– they filled the entire white board with awesome adjectives, including thoughtful, helpful, generous, and gorgeous. Wow! Other classes surprised me in the opposite way by having zero creativity. So I was proud of my class!
After brainstorming we played a silly rhythm game where the kids say “My name is __, I am __.” Then the class has to echo back “Her/His name is __, she/he is __.” I just love tricking kids into making correct sentences. My class has amazing rhythm and was so creative, and I was beaming with pride.
In the morning I always write a message on the board for the kids. Usually it is some statement and then includes a question to make the kids answer with their own ideas. Today I asked them to tell their classmates about themselves. The kids did pretty well describing things that make them unique, but some kids struggled so I took a big risk and asked their classmates to help out and tell them something special. Without hesitation many kids in my class stepped up to supply compliments, and we went around the circle and everyone received at least 3-4 compliments. I was halfway expecting disaster, but I was so thrilled to see them step up to the plate and say so many nice things!
What an awesome class I have. I am going to miss them so unbelievably much next year. I have had two completely opposite classes, so I still am not convinced that their awesomeness has anything to do with me. I hope, though, that I can foster the same level of creativity and responsibility in my students next year. It looks like I’ll be taking care of a class of newbies, kids who are entering the school late and know no English (and have never been to school before, so know nothing about proper classroom behavior..). That’s what my class was last year and it was kind of a disaster. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that last year was just a fluke. I’ve got a lot on my plate for next year: a class of new students, probably a new co-teacher, and 3 new subjects that have no curriculum to prepare for. But I know my new co-teacher will be awesome no matter who she is, and I am excited teach some new and more active subjects. So until I know more, I’ll continue to stay positive!
I finally discovered what has been ruining my life by giving me a rash– eggs! I am so glad to have discovered what it is so I can cut it out and suffer no more. I was really at my wit’s end trying different soaps, wearing different fabrics, showering obsessively. You may not fully understand what a huge relief it is to know the cause.
Somebody got a promotion today! I will elaborate more after it’s all been fully announced. This is what I have been waiting for folks; it’s all paid off after all. Hopefully there will only be sunshine and rainbows from here on out.
We made volcanos in science class today. It’s funny how lessons that you create yourself always go better and are more enjoyable. I actually felt like the kids learned something and were enthusiastic today!
I’ve got to say, things are going pretty well. Although nothing is going according to plan (aka what I had envisioned at the beginning of this year) I am just going about my daily business fairly relaxed.
School is going well. My students are becoming a little more rambunctious and I need to get that under control, but they are all still so sweet and bright. I have just been relaxed with them and not been my usual Officer Mary that they are used to drilling them into submission. They are already beginning to make sentences and I will drill it into them by the end of the year! I want at least half of my students to answer questions with complete sentences by next February. I have yet to meet at 7-year-old who answers a question with more than one word, and I want to put an end to that bad trend.
Report cards are due this week. They are pretty tedious and time-consuming but I managed to knock them out of the way early. I also made a go-fish type phonics game. There are pairs of cards– one card has just a picture and the other has the corresponding three letter word (all simple short vowel words). We had our late meeting today and the other 6-year teachers sat around and played with me. I think it can be a successful game with 4 or more people. I like to trick the kids into learning by making games like that.
The weather is also improving a lot (it’s quite hot during the day but not humid yet) which I hope to take advantage of as much as possible. My family visiting reminded me of how much is accessible and that I have no excuse for being so lazy. I hope there will be a lot of hiking and exploring in my near future!