Saturday, February 20, 2016

Seven Traits I Hope I Never Lose

When was the last time you spoke with a new teacher? I love their exuberance, passion, and courage! Yesterday, I wrote about seven positive changes I have seen in my seven years of experience. Today, I thought I would focus on seven traits that I hope to keep in the next seven years.
  1. I had a desire to make education the best for every student. I never looked at my class as the "..." grade. I looked at Rachel, Nathan, and Kayley. I planned to improve learning for each of my students. I planned to meet each of their gifts. While I am better at categorizing skills and gifts, I hope that I always teach to the kiddo in my classroom, not the standard or the assessment.
  2. I had a lot of energy. Late nights, early mornings, long weekends, and busy breaks - and I loved it. My life is more balanced these days, but I want to enter the classroom each day feeling ready to impart wisdom and grow with them. It is a fabulous feeling to wear your superhero cape.
  3. I had enthusiasm that can only come from a new teacher. When you are new, you are full of ideas, dreams, and plans. I spent one hour with a new teacher this summer, and I felt more energized than a week full of professional development could offer. I hope that I never stop adding new ideas to my classroom.
  4. I loved to play with my kids. We played tag, kickball, and board games. One of my more academic munchkins preferred to play sports with me on the field (to shield her from the ball). These experiences build respect and relationships that strengthen the learning experience in the classroom.
  5. I identified with my students. I still remembered what it was like to be ten. I kept up with the popular kids' shows and hobbies. My current principal says that she wants to retire while she still likes kids. If I can't understand what it feels like to be a 10-year-old, how can I teach them?
  6. I taught like my hair was on fire. Bottle rockets, Christmas cookie elves, travels to foreign countries, and building my library so every kid developed a love of reading were a part of my early classroom. I am not sure that I met the aspirations of Rafe Esquith, but my classroom was in motion. I hope my fuse stays lit.
  7. My faith grew in leaps and bounds. A career in church work is unique. Uniquely challenging and uniquely blessed. I watch student find comfort in their Savior that will get them through hard times on this earth and bless them for eternity. My faith is also a part of my job - watched before the public eye, developed in the struggles, and always there. It has been cultivated, watered, and fed, and I am confident that God's endless blessings will never cease.
While I am thankful for the changes that have come with seven years of experience, I love the benefits of a more youthful me. Keep teaching by faith!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Seven Year Stretch

My blog has been a little quiet this week. Two of the link-ups I was hoping to join never came to fruition. I was hoping to Share Sunshine and join Technology Thursday, but the hosts must have had a busy week. (Hint! Hint! Please post soon!) I set a professional goal and New Year's resolution to blog three times per week. With only one post down this week, I am free styling today.

This May, I will have completed my seventh year of teaching. During graduate school, I learned that lasting change takes seven years. If I were to compare my current teacher self to the newbie walking into the classroom for the first time, what would I find?
  1. I am more creative. I am not creative by nature, but my experience in the lower elementary has stretched me to find my creative bug. Today, my Pinterest boards are full of ideas, my student work is colorful, and my classroom is bright. Don't you enjoy learning when your space looks pretty?
  2. My classroom is well-stocked. I started with a few books in one or two genres from my childhood, hand-me-down resources, and a few gifts from student teaching. Today, TPT, IKEA, and Target have all greatly benefited from my classroom - as do my students! While I enjoy buying things to improve learning and enhance the experience, I rarely feel like I need something for my classroom.
  3. My schedule feels manageable. As a first year teacher, I started the year feeling overwhelmed, progressed through the year trying to keep up, and finished feeling like I wanted to do it over. In all honestly, I know that those feelings come from my perfectionist mindset. However, there is a great comfort at seven years when you understand the pacing that comes with teaching. You have time for more projects and a personal life!
  4. My students are better learners in all subjects. Each year, I went through a subject to improve my instructional strategies and developing my knowledge of a successful student in that area. Faith activities that connect to real life, math centers that allow for individual pacing and gaming, self-selected reading, writing traits, storytelling social studies, and science experiments make a great recipe for classroom success.
  5. I have had many experiences. In seven years, I have taught in four states, four grades, six classrooms, and way more curricula than I care to count. And I am a better teacher for it. I have worked with families from many backgrounds, have a strong understanding of the skills necessary in elementary school, always have a fresh learning space, and know what will produce a strong learner. Bring on year 8!
  6. I have a better understanding of child development. The first year me didn't realize that kids should be kids. My classroom always ran a little on the grown-up side. Today, I love the benefits of art projects, brain breaks, and colorful classrooms. We still are focused on learning, but I keep in mind that a classroom should be a fun place to go.
  7. I am so blessed by the faith growth God has allowed me to witness in my ministry. Of all the changes on this list, this one was the least expected and most loved. Yesterday, I saw an old Facebook post (no names mentioned) of a sweet story from a student who learned about Jesus for the first time at school. Images of these kids never leave my mind. They have received the ultimate gift - one that cannot be lost and lasts forever.
No matter your years of experience, how has God blessed you with growth in your teaching ministry?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday Scoop: 2/14/16

Here's the scoop...

Have to Do:
  • This was the hardest part of my to-do list.
  • We had a snowstorm today. So pretty!
  • Can you tell it is a three day weekend?
Hope to Do:
  • Catching up on my sleep was definitely needed!
  • I bought a new Christian color meditation book yesterday.
Happy to Do:
  • My mom flew to St. Louis this weekend, so I drove over to spend the weekend with her. Shopping, delicious food, and relaxing with my mom!
God's blessings on your week!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Technology Thursday: Khan Academy

I am excited to join Teaching Trio for my first Tech Thursday! I worked in a 1:1 school as the technology coordinator as the tech revolution was just beginning in schools. I spent a few years in a low-tech classroom, but I am excited to work my way back to 1:1 again. My students started using the Khan academy as a math center every day this fall.

What Is It?
The Khan Academy offers activities and videos that move at an individualized pace. My students use this app on their iPad devices during math centers, and they can also use them at home. We use it for math, but the program offers content in science, computers, history, art, economics, and more. My students can move among different levels to cover learning gaps and advance their skills. They can review their subtraction skills and learn about angles before we have covered it in the classroom. The Khan Academy partners with NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, and MIT to offer content.

The Khan Academy can be used all over the world! It is being translated into 36 languages. Teachers and parents can track the progress for quantity and mastery. My students love the energy points and badges they earn when they use the app.

How Much Does It Cost?
The website and app are completely free!

This app would make a great center in your classroom, a whole-class video teaching tool, or a homework assignment!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Made It: February

I tried a few of these over the summer, but this is my first official post with the proper buttons and links. Welcome to Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics!

 My first idea comes from I Love My Classroom. These whole class journals were a big hit at writing centers. They loved the topics and sharing with their friends. I loved the real-life audience they create and the opportunity to showcase their skills.

 My next item came from 4th Grade Frolics. My students will have some fun bookmarks for Valentine's Day!

I have used hand signals for a few years, but I love these signs. They will be helpful for my Spanish classes and are a great visual for the new students that join my loop next year.

I found these cute posters to add some pizzazz to the cabinets in my classroom.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Scoop: 2/7/16

Here's the Sunday scoop...

Have to Do:
  • Teach Sunday school - I love spending an hour with some awesome kids.
  • Attend voter's meeting - One of my colleagues was Called as a teacher today. This ministry is so blessed by her!
  • Buy groceries - The weekly chores must be done.
Hope to Do:
  • Laundry - It would be nice to get this done before the week starts.
  • Pack for St. Louis - I can't wait to spend the weekend with my mom!
Happy to Do:
  • Paint my nails - I am going to try some ombre colors for Valentine's Day!
God's blessings on your week!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Currently February 2016


Listening: I am loving this new song!

Loving: This activity makes the hallways look festive and teaches students about theme. Great activity from Deb Hanson!

Thinking: My head won't stop spinning! I am going to loop with my students next year, and I want to start on the new content now!

Wanting: It's 30˚F outside, and I am craving all things desert - Eegee's slushies, landscapes, and heat!

Needing: I finished half of my curriculum maps for the new grades, and I have to finish the rest before the end of the year!

Swooning: Love #luthed! Lutheran schools nurtured my faith, strengthened my friendships, and gave me a future. I love to see so many active collaborators on social media!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

#2GetherWeAreBetter: Things I Love

On the second of each month, Lucky Little Learners and Schroeder Shenanigans in Second come together to blog about a topic, learn from each other, and grow as educators. This month, the topic is Things We Love! What is something you love from your classroom? What is your favorite business tool? What do you love in your life? On February 2, how will you be better together?

I discovered 6+1 Traits of Writing by Ruth Calhum during my first year of teaching. I fell in love with it during my second year when I added Evan Moor resources to the program. From my best writers to my struggling starters, this program has benefited every student that has used it. I just started using it again in my classroom, and I loved to see how my students grow! 6+1 Traits is one my classroom loves!

My second classroom love is Teachers Pay Teachers. I have been gathering resources from this site for over a year, and I love the creative ideas I glean from other teachers on this site. What is better than adding flavor to your classroom while supporting your colleagues? The craftivities that line the halls are a parent favorite. Interactive notebooks help students organize their thoughts. I love the resources from TPT!

My first business love is Instagram. I set a New Year's Resolution to post on my business social media daily in 2016. I also wanted to increase my followers. I have already surpassed my goal on Instagram. The hashtags are a great way to collaborate with other teachers. This social savvy tool is a way to peak into the windows of classrooms around the world. Me amo Instagram!

When I started branding Teach by Faith this past summer, I was thrilled to find Mrs. 3rd Grade, a fellow #luthed teacher. She is skilled in social media, TPT, and blogging. More importantly, she teaches in a Lutheran school. Hopefully, she'll inspire a few more #luthed teachers to join in! Mrs. 3rd Grade is a great role model for any teacher blogger. Thanks, Mrs. 3rd Grade!
My life love of late includes recipes from Skinnytaste! I have been cooking with her recipes consistently since Thanksgiving. I cooked a few things for my whole family over Christmas. I love the egg muffins for breakfast. Loaded nacho potatoes, fried chicken and mashed cauliflower, and black bean burrito bowls are some of my favorites. All of the meals are under 400 calories and made with real food. I am in love!

Happy 100th Day of School!

Happy 100th Day of School! The students entered the classroom through a banner that set the tone for the day!

They put together a 100 piece puzzle. We talked about how to share with others and do our part. It was a great practice in collaboration!

We begin every day with the Lord, so we created a Google Slide presentation of 100 of our favorite Bible verses. We learned new skills like 'copy' and 'paste.' This was also our first experience collaborating in one project on different iPads. It was a hit!

We spent the rest of the day working on a 100th Day packet for third and fourth graders. They worked on addition and multiplication in the 100 chart. We created $100 out of money. They practiced ideas writing about an invention 100 years from now. They wrote about 100 of their favorite things. I highly recommend this packet for upper elementary!

Happy 100th Day of School!