Category Archives: being a teacher

The Five Tenets of Personalized Learning

Cross-posted from the Corwin Connect Blog.

I did not know what I was doing when I decided to change the way I taught. I did not know that somewhere out in the education world there was already a term floating around for some of the ideas I had for change, a term that would capture so many of my ideas in one. It was not until a few years of blogging about the changes I had made that someone left a comment on my blog suggesting I learn more about personalizing learning because it seemed like that is what I was talking about. … Visit the author's original post

The Five Tenets of Personalized Learning

Cross-posted from the Corwin Connect Blog.

I did not know what I was doing when I decided to change the way I taught. I did not know that somewhere out in the education world there was already a term floating around for some of the ideas I had for change, a term that would capture so many of my ideas in one. It was not until a few years of blogging about the changes I had made that someone left a comment on my blog suggesting I learn more about personalizing learning because it seemed like that is what I was talking about. … Visit the author's original post

Our Epic Nonfiction Picture Book Project Take 2

For the past few years, my students have written nonfiction picture books for younger audiences around the world.  Last year, I decided to share the lesson plan to serve as inspiration for those who wanted it, and this year I thought I would do the same.  While the foundation is the same, the process has been tweaked a bit for a more meaningful experience for the students.

The goal of the project is rather simple; create a 15 to 25 slide/page nonfiction picture book meant for a 2nd or 3rd grade audience on anything you wish to write about.  … Visit the author's original post

The Worth of You

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Lynda Mullaly Hunt made me cry yesterday.  Right in the middle of a panel session on the community of the Global Read Aloud.  I had held my tears back all throughout as the authors had shared what it means to have their book read and loved by so many children on a global scale.  I had held my tears back as they had talked about the ways that their books had changed the lives of others, how children had found hope, courage, and determination through their pages.  … Visit the author's original post

But How Do You Really Teach With Picture Books?

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2 days into the year and already we have shared 5 picture books.  Today I read How to Read A Story by the amazing Kate Messner 5 times as we discussed what we love and hate about reading.  As we discussed what makes a great reading experience.  As I invited my students to come on over, one boy clapped his hands, “Story time!” he said.  And not in a sarcastic 7th grade too-cool-for-school kind of way, but in the way that little kids say  it; excited to hear the story.  … Visit the author's original post

3 Must-Do’s If Your School Purchases Curriculum

There seems to have always been pre-packaged programs available for districts to purchase.  Whether they came as a kit, a textbook, or just a set of ideas they have been a part of education for so many years and will continue to be as long as there are districts searching for the right answer, searching for guidance.  And there isn’t anything wrong with that.  I am not an opponent to the purchased curriculum, I am not an opponent of buying resources for teachers.  … Visit the author's original post

What About the “P” In Your B.Y.O.D.?

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The final quarter of last year, our classroom was a limited B.Y.O.D. zone, meaning yes, bring your own device but check it at the door unless we had a purpose for it.  I instituted this because I felt we were getting distracted, myself included, we were having a hard time resisting the instant temptations that our smartphones seem to provide for us.  So we left them out of the room and the students were just fine with it.  I was too.  … Visit the author's original post

We Are the Experts on Our Students

I don’t remember when I started speaking up as a teacher.  When my words no longer burned in my skull, my mouth tightly closed.  When I finally had the courage to raise my hand and give my opinion and then wait and see what would happen.  But I do remember how it felt; terrifying.  My cheeks flamed red, all eyes on me.  In my mind you could have heard a pin drop.  Time slowed until someone else jumped in.  Yet, in reality, it was probably not a big moment.  … Visit the author's original post

This Is For the Kids

This is for the kids who made me cry.  Who wore me out, who tore me down.  This is for the kids who wondered why.   Who dared to speak, who dared to question.  This is for the kids that didn’t give up, that saw something in me I would have never seen myself.  Who questioned persistently, who had the audacity to say they were bored.  And who never ever thought that school should be about the teachers and not about the kids.… Visit the author's original post

Enough…

My love of reading never had to survive my childhood.  My love of reading never had to survive well-meaning teachers, at least not when I was young.  When I grew up, teachers weren’t really that bothered with what we read, or how much we read every night, just that we read.  That we grew.  That we became better.  They didn’t ask us to keep logs, to record minutes, to stick post-it notes whenever we had a thought.  They didn’t tell us which box to pick from or give us a label.  … Visit the author's original post

12 Tips for An Organized Book Loving Classroom

Anyone who enters our classroom immediately notices all of the books we have.  It’s hard not to, they seem to be everywhere.  While I have always believed in having as many books as possible in the classroom, I was not always sure on how to best organize it for optimal student access and interest.  Now, seven years into having a library, there are a few things that have made my life easier.

No check out system

I have tried so many different check out systems, from a catalog system, to student librarians, to an electronic version, and all of them turned out the same; a ton of work for me and I still lost a lot of books.  … Visit the author's original post

So It Turns Out I Am a Terrible Teacher

It turns out I owe everyone an apology.  Or at least a great big “I am sorry” to all of the people who have ever been inspired by this blog to change the way they teach.  It turns out I don’t know what I am doing, at least not if you look at our test scores.  You see, my students took our district standardized test, the one they take three times a year, and it turns out that at least for some all of my crazy ideas have apparently ruined their English skills.  … Visit the author's original post

To the One Teacher Who Shaped Me the Most

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It is national teacher appreciation week here in the United States. and all through the blog world I have seen the incredible letters of appreciation being shared.  I have seen the words that praise, the words that show once again just how much of an influence a great teacher can have.  And I am grateful because I too have had amazing teachers in my life, who believed that i had worth and who believed that I could make the world a better place. … Visit the author's original post

Five Words For You

For five weeks, I have tried to find just the right words to preface the following message.  For five weeks, I have carried a tattered post-it around, waiting for just the right angle to present it to the world.  For the past 35 days, I have waited for inspiration to strike, for the moment to come where I could finally unleash the words and let them resonate with others as they have resonated within me.  For 35 days I have waited for an opportunity but that opportunity has not come.  … Visit the author's original post

Before You Assign That Homework – What Students Wish You Knew

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“Should teachers assign homework?” was the question I asked my students today.  I thought I knew the answer, a resounding no I was sure, and yet, once again my 7th graders surprised me.

While some pleaded for no more homework, many said they understood the purpose of it, that it was a necessary component of school and then wrote a paragraph asking for change.  Asking for their thoughts to be considered.  Asking for teachers to think before they assign.  So what my students wish teachers knew before homework is assigned is now written here for the world to see.… Visit the author's original post

Before You Assign That Homework – What Students Wish You Knew

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“Should teachers assign homework?” was the question I asked my students today.  I thought I knew the answer, a resounding no I was sure, and yet, once again my 7th graders surprised me.

While some pleaded for no more homework, many said they understood the purpose of it, that it was a necessary component of school and then wrote a paragraph asking for change.  Asking for their thoughts to be considered.  Asking for teachers to think before they assign.  So what my students wish teachers knew before homework is assigned is now written here for the world to see.… Visit the author's original post

Before You Assign That Homework – What Students Wish You Knew

FullSizeRender

“Should teachers assign homework?” was the question I asked my students today.  I thought I knew the answer, a resounding no I was sure, and yet, once again my 7th graders surprised me.

While some pleaded for no more homework, many said they understood the purpose of it, that it was a necessary component of school and then wrote a paragraph asking for change.  Asking for their thoughts to be considered.  Asking for teachers to think before they assign.  So what my students wish teachers knew before homework is assigned is now written here for the world to see.… Visit the author's original post

“What Are You Proud Of?” – Using Letter Grades For Good

I was exhausted to say the least.  Voice raw, thoughts muddled, and a lead brain.  I felt like I had worked days without sleep as I dragged myself home.  All day Thursday, I conferred with almost all of my students.  100+ kids and I sat down, one on one, and spoke about scores, grades,  goals, growth and most importantly what they are proud of.  And I was exhausted.

I hadn’t intended to have a day of conferring.  I had thought we would have a read-in party, I would hand them back their grade slips with my grades for them, the ones they had first decided and I then had added my input to.  … Visit the author's original post

Why Book Clubs Suck And We Need to Talk About

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I had meticulously made my lists.  I had thoughts of habits, tastes, personalities, reading preferences, pace and yes, even their assessment data.  I had scoured the book room, gone book shopping spending my own money and used most of my Scholastic points.  More than 50 choices awaited my students, I couldn’t wait to start book clubs.

So when I announced that today was the day they would know their book club groups, I had not planned for the groan of disapproval that met me.  … Visit the author's original post

5 Ideas For Diffusing the Negative People At Your Work

We have all been in the situation it seems; surrounded by negative people whose only joy in life seems to be finding something to complain about.  Those teachers that cannot wait to share how terribly a child did, those teachers that cannot wait to discuss how awful a new initiative will be, or even just how overwhelmed they feel.  And you know what, at some point we have probably all been one of those teachers, I know I was!  And we usually don’t even know it.… Visit the author's original post

If My Mother Had Listened to My Teacher

If my mother had listened to my teacher she would have realized what a horrible child I was.  How I should be kept away from others.  How I should not be with children my own age because I would corrupt them.  How I was doomed to live a life of solitude because no one was safe around me.

She didn’t.

If my mother had listened to my teacher she would have realized how little imagination I had except for the morose.  … Visit the author's original post

Feb. 5th Show the World What the Life of A Student Looks Like – #Studentlife

As connected educators, we do a lot of sharing what our days look like and in extension the day of our students, yet how much of what we share truly gives an entire picture of what it means to be a student these days?  After reading Grant Wiggins’ blog that detailed what an ed-coach found after she followed two high school students around, I cannot help but wonder if we really know what it feels like for our students?  If we really understand what a full day looks like for them?  … Visit the author's original post

5 + 1 Simple Ideas to Make Writing Fun Again

Over and over their comments come.

“…I hate writing…”

“…Please don’t make me write…”

“…Writing is soooo boring…”

And with each comment, I am grateful for my 7th graders honesty and also very, very challenged.  How do you make writing fun again when all of the joy has disappeared for some?  How do you make writing something students want to do, or at the very least don’t hate, when you have a curriculum to get through?  How do we continue to inspire students to become writers, even when facing so many old writing demons?  … Visit the author's original post

Our Epic Nonfiction Project

I don’t share specific lessons on here often but this time I have to because this one has just made the last 6 weeks, yes 6 weeks, fly by.  Not just for me either, most of my students that reported on their survey that they hate writing but love this project.  So without further ado, let me tell you all about our rather epic nonfiction picture book project.

The goal of the project is rather simple; create a 30 to 50 page nonfiction picture book meant for a K or 1st grade audience on anything you wish.  … Visit the author's original post