Welcome to My Blog!

Welcome to my blog! I use my blog as a way to reflect, share, organize, and re-conceptualize my views as an educator. Enjoy and feel free to comment, post, disagree, and share your opinion. The more perspectives, the better!


Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010 List of Awesomeness

2010 (minus a few days) has been a year of many challenges and even more success. Everyday, good or bad, has been a learning experience for me and is a part of my life. I have spent a lot of this year re-focusing and realizing what is important to me. My list of awesomeness is a list of everything I can think of that made 2010 awesome. I made a similar list a few years ago, and cannot tell you how many times I have looked back on it. Writing and reading the list makes me realize how lucky I am to have great friends and family and to be at UC in the beautiful city of Cincinnati. I am sure my list is not complete, but it is off to a good start. Enjoy and thanks for being a part of my awesome 2010!


- New Years in New Orleans
- Saw Lady Antebellum live in concert
-CMFK fundraiser at Woody’s
- Meeting and mentoring 15 special kids through CMFK
- Meeting all of the CMFK families to celebrate our first year
-Teaching 14 preschoolers at Madeira preschool
- Creating a hats and shoes theme for my lead teaching week
- TONS of snow days to keep me sane during winter quarter
-Skiing with Rallycats
-Talking my way into the Pavilion for St. Patty’s day happy hour
- Green drinks all night long!
- Turning 21!
- receiving an obnoxious, flashing, 21st birthday pin from an awesome roommate
- Taking so long to make our awesome, non-traditional togas that we missed most of the basketball game
- Seeing AfroFlow live at UC,  meeting the amazing artists, and checking out their tour bus
- Getting pied at XU’s Relay and returning the favor at our Relay
-Selling and seeing I <3 Boobs shirts all over campus
-Hearing Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing”  for the first time on a rainy Relay morning
- Relaywood: Lights, Camera, Take Action!
-Genuine awe at the commitment the UC community makes to UC’s Relay For Life in support of the American Cancer Society
-Coming to the realization that seeing the teacher I do not want to be will help me become the teacher I want to be
- 23 sweet kindergarteners
- Field day with my kindergarteners
-receiving great advice from one of my kindergarteners: “Miss Prinzo, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself!”
- A rainy Sigma Sigma Carnival aka the return of my social life after a not-so-awesome junior year
- Getting paid to walk in the MainStreet Stride and having a ton of fun in the process
- working with 3 awesome PLC’s and 70 peer leaders
- PL appreciation dinner and creating PL superlatives
- Creating and checking off items on the Summer Fun List
- Taking a trip to the Rootbeer Stand (and getting semi-lost in the process)
- Touring Mammoth Caves
-Being lucky enough to take the best dog ever on a few last walks
- Camping out with great friends near Mammoth caves (bobber pong, the ferry, and a campfire to be more specific)
-Getting lost and re-routed in KY only to find a castle!
- Martinis at Lockview ((on a weeknight))
- acting like a tourist at Jungle Jim’s / experiencing Jungle Jim’s for the first time
- finding the “secret” gardens off of Reading Rd.
- Celebrating my first Oktoberfest down town
- signing up for Cincinnati Public Library’s Summer Reading program aka rediscovering my passion for reading
- Volunteering at the Friends of the Library Book Sale and $10 bag day
- touring, shopping, and supporting Crayons to Computers
-Sharing many dinners, cookouts, and nights-in with friends
- starting to get back in shape and discovering that I actually LIKE to go to the rec
-Summer classes aka the path to a REAL double major
- marveling at the ridiculousness of Gatlinburg with my mom
- a perfect vacation to Charleston with my mom (minus the whole Jellyfish and camera thing!)
- an impromptu stop to tour a historic home in Charlotte, North Carolina
- “peer pressure” at football games
- picking pumpkins from the farm
- carving pumpkins with friends
- a Candyland themed Halloween
- Volunteering at the finish line of the 2010 Pan Ohio Hope Ride
- Shopping for a little black dress
- Sharing leggings to ride a mechanical bull
- Laser tag & a giant room a blow-ups for a friend’s birthday
- the taste of Akron food after a long time away ( Tres Portillos, Whitey’s, Swenson’s/Skyway, Wally Waffles, Angel Falls Coffee, AWOK, and Gasoline Ally…just to name a few!)
- being “forced” to hug and kiss Buzz Lightyear by a two year old
- spending 20 minutes hidden in plain sight during an “intense” game of hide and seek
- being lucky enough to have a mentor teacher who is the perfect fit for me
- 20 First Grade Froggers who amaze me a little bit more everyday
- Teaching my first (and one of my favorite) first grade lessons—Community Helpers Bingo
- receiving my first apple from a student
- sharing Engineers Without Borders’ Visual Pen Pal project with my students
- Anything But Clothes Goes 2.0- I mean how often does one get to dress up like a picnic and design clothing made out of Bud Light cases
- joining the blogging community: writing and reflecting on my life as a student-teacher at mprinzo.blogspot.com & learning about the amazing things teachers are doing all over the world
- starting & building a huge folder of electronic ECE resources
- reading 1000awesomethings each weekday and remembering that the little things are usually what make life worth living
- Having my first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season!
-Spending the occasional Sunday studying at TAZA
- Finding the perfect planner after a really long search
- taking a trip to a locally-run haunted house
- Bearcat “Bowl”ing trip
- Sharing Thanksgiving in Columbus with my family
- getting my own pan of my mom’s stuffing for a post-Thanksgiving treat
- playing the “stop” game on the BTS
- many shopping trips to thrift stores and book stores to build my children’s book collection & adding OASC favorites to my collection
- Actually succeeding with my New Year’s Resolutions!
- Finally finding new jeans that I actually like!
- Attending a CCM dance concert (and testing out my ballerina skills post-concert)
- Thursday nights at Murphy’s
- attending the Harry Potter midnight premier and LOVING the movie
-attending “The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything” and “The Thirteen Nights of Halloween” Reader’s Theater performances
- Flying & riding in an experimental aircraft
- Meeting all of the families of my students at Open House
- enjoying the occasional walk to Fairview in nice weather
-Strawberry shots!
- taking roommate trips to Cincinnati “beaches” (minus the sunburn!)
-Discovering Q104 does not play Christmas music!
- Spending a relaxing, yet somewhat productive winter break in Akron
- Receiving many complements from the seniors at Copley Place (hello ego-boost)
- Bingo, Skip-bo, Bananagrams, cookies, coffee, and wine for a satisfying Christmas & Christmas Eve
- “Surprising” my mom with a Christmas gift
- Catching up with the Bonacci family after Christmas and getting a whole bunch of "new' teaching stuff as a donation from their family
- Good coffee, a Sunday night bar with no girly drinks and a bad band, and great friends
- Celebrating Melissa's 22nd at BlackFinn with the girls and some new "friends"
- NYE in Fountain Square...crowded bar, no champagne, fireworks, awesome weather, an awesome bar with no cover, and ridiculous walk through the parking garage
-receiving the gift of extra time to focus on school through the Pearl M. Wright Finalist Award



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review of Coming Back Stronger

As a supplement to my adventures in blog land, I became a book reviewer through Tyndale Blog Network. As a reviewer, Tyndale House Publishers provide me with a complimentary copy of a book, I read it, and then share my thoughts. My first book was Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Diversity. This book is an autobiography of Drew Brees and this is what I thought of it:


Drew Brees' autobiography, Coming Back Stronger, tells the story of an admiral person and professional athlete who overcomes a series of challenges in his life and career. Though I am not a fan of the NFL, this novel was both interesting and inspirational. I find it hard to believe that one could not read it and take back some message, meaning, or connection to his or her own life. The novel really allows for the reader to get into the mindset of a quarterback. I enjoyed hearing about games from a player's perspective. The writing, in my opinion, could have been stronger. Bree's seems to want to open up to the reader, and does for the most part, but at times I would have liked to see more emotion and detail about how the challenges were overcome. The memoir was filled with cliches, but it is very apparent that Brees has not only embraced, but lives by what they represent. Regardless of the mediocre writing, I finished the book satisfied and with a genuine respect for Brees, his teammates, and family.


And what does this have to do with being a teacher? At first I could not tell you, but the more I think about it, the more it has everything to do with being a teacher. It talks about motivation--internal and external motivation. It talks about overcoming challenges and failures--something I expect in my future career and I expect my students to have. It talks about the importance of family and community. The biggest lesson I learned from this book was related to the issue of trust and support. In Coming Back Stronger Brees talks about the feeling he had when being recruited by New Orleans. It was important to him to have a coaching staff and teammates who believed in him--people who were on his side. This support helped him become a better player. In my mind, it is this same trust and support that students need to be successful. Students need teachers and parents who believe that they can achieve. Before we can give them content knowledge, they must be ready to learn. We, as teachers, need to support students in their efforts. Brees intends his autobiography to be more than about football, and as a future teacher who does not know a lot about football, I can say in this aspect he was successful. 



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are you Christian?

I overheard a table of students talking about holidays and religion. One of the students asked another student:

"Are you Christian?"

Her response: "No! I'm Hannah!"

21

This week our arrival activity was Christmas Riddles. The children were working on word problems that used Christmas characters. I was working with one child who has a difficult time writing numbers and with number sense. He wrote "21" on his paper instead of "12." When I reminded him to fix it, this is what he said:

M: "But I like the number 21 better!"

Me: "Why? What is so special about 21?"

M: "Well I want to be 21 so I can be Santa."

Me: "I'm 21, am I old enough to be Santa?"

M: "Well maybe he is just a little bit older."
“If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job.”—Donald Quinn

Friday, December 10, 2010

Community Helpers Bingo

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately. I am addicted! There are so many great blogs by and for educators that I cannot seem to keep up. I started a folder in my documents for downloads from these sites about 2 weeks ago and it is already full! I have already downloaded about 30 different activities! My next big task is to organize them, but in the mean time I thought I would pay it forward so to speak.

Even though I am only a student teacher, I think I can contribute ideas and activities that other teachers can use. So here it goes: Community Helpers Bingo. This is probably my favorite lesson so far. My children LOVED it.

Materials and Directions:
- Print Bingo Cards. Each card has a combination of labeled community helper pictures on it. I put the cards in slip covers for durability (it is like cheap lamination!).The cards also have a full-page image of each community helper. I used these the first few rounds to help the children make sure they had the right answer to the clues.

- Give the children bingo markers. I used unit cubes because they are stackable and do not slide around easily.

- Print the Bingo Clues. I would read these clues and the children would be responsible for marking the corresponding clues on their board. I also supplemented the clues listed with images from community helper books we had read in class.

-Giving the clues: I would read each clue 2 or 3 times. The first few I called we discussed as a group. For the first few rounds I put up the corresponding full page picture. Then the children were on their own. I was pleased to see how well they worked with each other. They talked about their answers at the table and even helped each other find the pictures on their boards!

-Awarding prizes: I really did not want to emphasize the "winning" part. We would play until 3-4 winners called "Bingo". The first time a child won the game, I would check their board and give them a sticker. By the end of the lesson all of the children had won at least one game...I might have influenced the game a little bit and made sure certain helpers were called towards the end. I won't tell if you don't!

-Play, Play, Play! We played several rounds. We played lines, diagonals, corners, x's, T's, L's, and full cards. I drew a picture of what their card should look like on the board each time so the children could better understand what a "Bingo" looked like.

-Noise Level: This game was a little bit loud. I personally am not bothered by noise during games or activities. The children were really good about quieting down when I started to read the next clue, but you might want to use a timer or bell to transition between reading clues and looking time.

The children had such a good time with this activity, we left it out in our Science & Social Studies center for them to play independently.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where do you go?

College is a never-ending source of mystery for many of my students. Even the students who have parents who are very well educated have some misconceptions about college. Things like the idea of a roommate and not being in class all day long are fascinating to my students. Here is one of the best things about college I have ever been asked, though it came from the daughter of a family friend, another beautiful first grader in my life.

"Michelle, Where do you go to the bathroom at college?"

My response: "Do you have a bathroom at your school? I have one at mine too."

What a great reminder about the simple, but very important things in life.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I am just sarcasm!

I was working with one of my students during writing. He was making a cover for his book and I kept sending him back to his seat to do better work and follow the directions given. The last time I sent him back to his seat he started sighing. I told him I thought he was exaggerating. 

His response, "I know Miss Prinzo, I am just being sarcasm. I am just sarcasm."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Waiting for Superman response

Earlier this quarter I had the opportunity to see Waiting for Superman with Honors. I have to admit, the movie was not as much as it hyped up to be. I think they oversimplified many issues in education.

Things I liked:
- Their response to teacher quality and union involvement: I whole-heartedly believe that our nation's teachers need to be of higher quality. For too many people teaching is a back-up plan. Too many teachers make the old saying "Those who cannot do, teach" believable. Some of this has to do with teacher-edu, some with the standards already in place, some with lack of support or development, and a lot is because of teacher burn-out. Irregardless, our nation needs higher quality teachers. While I believe unions are necessary for contract negotiations and legal support, I do not believe that unions should have so much power that schools cannot get rid of bad teachers. We have all had them. Those teachers who make us hate class, hate learning, and at the worst not even believe in ourselves and our abilities. Anyone who has been a student recently knows they exist. Other professions are held to standards in which their job security is based on performance, and even ability. Why should teaching be any different?

- I like that they showed alternative education models. Education should not be black and white---there should be options. I think that they should be commended how good schools can help close the achievement gap--that students deserve a high quality education regardless of zip code or income.

Things I didn't like:

- I did not like that they disregarded public schools. There are great public schools, just as there are great charter and private schools. To disregard magnet schools and high performing neighborhood schools for being on an unreachable tower of sorts is not right. There are schools making a difference. Public, private, or charter we need to help other schools meet the same standards. The charter schools shown are to be commended, but they do not excuse the thousands of sub-standard charter schools.

- The issue of parent involvement was almost completely ignored. Schools are not islands! Let me say it one more time, SCHOOLS ARE NOT ISLANDS! Teachers and schools have a huge responsibility for education, but parents, families, and communities need to be a part of the equation. I am sorry, but you do not have to be well-off to care about your child and teach your children that school and education are important. When I worked at Wynn Center, almost all of the families were on vouchers. The students who progressed the most were not always the more financially advantaged (advantaged is a VERY relative term) students---they were the students who had parents, siblings, or guardians who cared what happened in school. They had the families you could count on to help problem solve when there was an issue. Family involvement is crucial! The children profiled in the documentary will likely be okay regardless of where they go to school. Yes, they will probably do better in a higher quality school, but their families have shown them that they care---that doing well in school is important. This value system, in my opinion, is more important to student success than the school.

CNN had a guest opinion editorial on parent involvement from the perspective of not just parental involvement, but the involvement of dads. Read it yourself. I believe it makes a very strong point. My favorite part (and quote to summarize my feelings of the documentary) is below:

"The film makes a persuasive case for how to fix the system, and it needs fixing. But the system is only part of the equation. Parents are the other part, and from that perspective, parents, especially dads, should not be waiting, but getting more engaged, focused and involved."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The influence of experiential learning

Though I have never met Dr. Earl Reum, I have heard nothing but good things about him from John Namey and Connie Miley, leaders of the Ohio Association of Student Councils (OASC). Dr. Earl Reum's focus is on Activity Directors--the people who work with students, develop them as leaders, and understand them. They are the people who get experiential learning. The following link is a video, Perfect 10-- Earl Reum: Speaker, Educator, Mentor, that gives you just a little bit of insight into Dr. Earl Reum's life and the charisma in which he inspires those around him to inspire others. The title of the video could not be more accurate and I believe his lessons go way beyond activity development. They are 100% applicable to the teaching profession and pretty much every other area of life.

OASC is an organization directed at older students (6th-12th grade), but the the style in which they approach leadership development is similar to best practices in any classroom--- students learn from experiential learning and they are asked to reflect upon their experience and build knowledge and skills through this reflection.

Personally, I would be an entirely different person without OASC in my life. As a 6th grader I was still very shy and not very sure of myself. Thanks to OASC my ackward middle school years (which let's face it, went well beyond middle school) were not that bad. OASC taught me to be myself, to be confident in my abilities, to learn from change and failure, and to be goal-oriented. OASC helped me realize that leaders are developed, they do not magically appear---just as I believe students develop as learners.

As I grew through the OASC program and my school, extra-curricular, and work experiences I learned the power of facilitation, self- evaluation and reflection, to ask questions, give and receive constructive criticism, and to make sure to have plenty of fun. Surprise! Guess what are the most important skills I use in the classroom? The same skills I learned at OASC and through extra-curricular activities in HS and college. My experience outside of the classroom, in my opinion, has been more valuable than my experience inside of the classroom (which, of course, is important to).

As a classroom teacher, I need to remember the value of experiential learning. Experiential learning is more than just field trips---it should be an continuous occurring experience. It should not be pushed aside. Hands-on activities, project based approaches will undoubtedly add chaos to my future classroom, and I am sure at times will be an approach that is criticized. Experiential learning is worth fighting for and my students now and in the future deserve it. It seems like the students who need experiential learning opportunities the most are the  same students who are forced to sit still in a desk and get talked at all day--the ones that are taught through worksheets. I will not be that teacher. I refuse to. I have OASC and many other activities and people to thank for that.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

SOE talk: my new favorite blog

I found this awesome blog from Johns Hopkins University, School of Education. While some of their info is directly related to area-news, most of it has an impact nation-wide. Get ready for frequent re-posts from it.

http://soetalk.com

How INTERESTING!

As an ECE teacher, there will be times that things the children think our fascinating are 100% disgusting. As a science teacher, you might even be introducing this material. It is important to capture the children's fascination and help them learn from it. And they will notice if you are 100% disgusted and likely follow suite. One of my classmates had a great suggestion. Instead of saying "ewww" "gross" or "yuck" say "how interesting". Have the children do the same. Happy Science-teaching.

P.S...I wish I had this little trick in my bag when the naturalist from Hamilton County Parks came into the class with the snake.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Classroom Organization tips

Scholastic put out an article on 100 easy classroom management tips. I love it because it does not include anything too expensive and a lot of the supplies can be found in the home! View the original article.


NEW USES FOR OLD THINGS
1. Empty Tissue Box
You always need plastic bags for sending home art projects and wet clothes. Tame that unruly mess that seemingly multiplies under your desk by using an empty tissue box to keep bags corralled and ready for use.
2. Post-it Notes
Are the keyboards in your classroom  frighteningly grimy? Run the sticky side of a Post-it between the keys to pick up crumbs and dust. Then finish up with slightly dampened cotton swabs.  
3. Address Stickers
Brand anything as yours—classroom library books, rulers, staplers—with a return-address sticker, and they just may stick around.
4. Mittens
Put off-duty mittens to work as scissor guards.  One classroom we saw had a clothesline of mittens to store scissors, dry-erase markers, and extra pencils. So cute!
5. Six-Pack Carton
Transform a six-pack soda carton into a supply tote that's perfect for storing items for group work, tools for outside science exploration, or art supplies for each table of four or six students. Refreshingly simple. 
TERRIFIC TIMESAVERS
6. Download It!
From field trip forms to IEP progress reports to "No Homework!" reward coupons, you can find dozens of free downloadable templates at toolsforteachers.org. Better yet, each form can be customized for your needs. 
7. Number Line 
Assign each of your  students a number. Then have them write their name and number on every paper. It makes assignments easy to keep track of and grades quick to enter. -Marilyn Ruzick 
8. Label Everything
Place labels and photos on shelves and containers. It will make cleanup quicker and you won't have to field a thousand questions a day about where things go! 
9. Velcro Your Walls
I use Velcro dots to attach posters to the walls. I attach the Velcro in the same spots on every poster (six inches from the center on both sides). This makes changing posters fast and easy-and I do it far more often. -Doranne Koval 
10. Copy That List!
Make 50 copies of your class list at the beginning of the year. They will be useful for so many things-quick classroom games, a reference for substitutes, notes on behavior during an assembly, or field trip checklists. 
11. Traffic Patterns
To start the year, I tape down paper footprints on the floor to teach the traffic flow I want in my classroom. It reduces conflict and saves minutes of learning time every single day. -Shannon McGovern 
INGENIOUS ORGANIZING TOOLS
12-21 You might be surprised at the "free" organizing tools you can find in your attic, basement, or at least at a neighbor's garage sale.
- Vases
- Baskets
- Tackle boxes
- Silverware trays
- Muffin tins
- Oatmeal canisters
- Photo boxes
- Cookie jars
- Old suitcases
- Metal lunchboxes
RETHINK YOUR ROOM  

22. Instant Math Center

So you don't have the cash for Cuisenaire rods and other math tools, but you do have kitchen cabinets. Pantry staples like pasta shells and lima beans are perfect for hands-on math work and patterning.
23. Reflections
Is your room gloomy? Hanging  mirrors or even reflective wrapping paper opposite the windows can really brighten things up! -Frankie Frasure 
24. Shower Gallery Space
Have an ugly wall? Hang a couple of sheets of shower paneling from a home store and let the kids write or draw! Invite the kids to be creative on a theme you are studying in class, whether it's oceans or Pilgrims. -Christina Vrba 
25. Hide It Away
Ugly storage area? Hit the fabric store and look for a bright fabric or remnant. Use safety pins to hang kids' work or to make it into a word wall. -Robin Shaw 
26. Color Your World
Every interior designer knows the quickest (and the cheapest) way to overhaul a room is a can of paint. You could  ask parents or teens to volunteer to help! -Peggy Collrin 
27. That Holiday Glow 
I repurposed extra Christmas tree lights by running them along the window sill and around the bookcases in my classroom. I don't light them all the time, but it's always a pick-me-up for the kids when I do! -Mary Jo Pick 
JUST FOR FUN
28. Quack the Days 
I have a huge collection of rubber ducks we use to count the days of the school year. We remove one from the windowsill each day. They add color and some fun to my classroom.-Stacey Telgren 
A MORE PEACEFUL CLASSROOM
29. Soften the Lights 
I like to find extra floor and table lamps at junk shops and turn off the overhead flourescents. It makes my classroom more homey and reduces stress. -Amy Hoand

30. Reduce Clutter
Weed out all unnecessary clutter. Use crates and baskets for those things you want out of sight but handy when needed.

31. Bring Nature Inside 
Plants (whether a real indoor garden or silk palms and ferns) add that soothing touch of green. And they're a boon for science study!

32. Collect It
Simple nature collections (stones, shells, pinecones, rocks) engage kids' curiosity and can be inspiration for writing, math, and art.

33. Listen Up 

I often play classical music, jazz, and nature recordings in my classroom. We listen to the ocean while we do math, or the cello during reading. -Sarah Kal

34. Lower Your Voice 
Sometimes the best way to get and keep kids' attention is to say less and say it very quietly. You set the tone.
FREE (OR ALMOST FREE) SUPPLIES
35-37 
Too many teachers spend their own hard-earned cash to outfit their rooms. Here are a few websites you can count on.

Freecycle.org: A nonprofit site where you can give (and get) stuff free in your own town. Great for kids' books, extra furniture, even a DVD player. Be sure to let people know you are a teacher!
Donorschoose.org: A well-respected organization connects donors with classrooms in need. Any teacher can sign up!
Bookins.com: Refresh your library with this book swap site. Give away books that aren't working for ones that will!
TAME THAT PAPERWORK
38. Paper Keeper
An empty wine bottle carton wrapped in a recycled map makes a perfect mailbox. 
39. Start at the End
I have a calendar for the entire year. I take notes on major themes, brainstorm books, then I break down each book into themes and skills. I count the days and work backwards to fit it all in. -Diana Kennedy

40. In and Out Boxes
On a bookshelf by the door of my middle school classroom, I have six sets of In and Out boxes. They are arranged in pairs and labeled by period. Kids turn their work in to the top bin and pick it up from the bottom bin. It keeps the clutter off my desk! -Miranda Wicker
KEEP TECH ORGANIZED 
41. Tangles of Wires
Slip wires through two or more empty paper towel tubes to contain them. For an even better look, have kids cover them with colored paper first.

42. Junior IT Help
Assign some tasks to students. They can position equipment, connect the projection device, log in, open the browser, and you're ready to go!

43. Share the Computer Space 

Create groups of three students: keyboard operator, mouse operator, and director/recorder. In a crowded area, the director/recorder student can stand behind the other two and give the directions. Rotate roles every 5-7 minutes.

MANAGE VOLUNTEERS

44-53

Having volunteers in your classroom is a great gift, but it's also a lot of work. Here are some quick tips:
- Be clear about needs
- Set boundaries
- Give clear directions
- Respect their time
- Schedule in advance
- Make room for dads
- Give praise
- Vary the opportunities
- Use parents' talents
- Have kids say thanks!  
ART IS MESSY, SO IS LIFE
54. Tempera
Sure it's washable, but it's still hard to remove from carpets. If you have a spill, first let it dry. Scrape away any loose paint. Next, use a clean cloth to blot the stain with white vinegar. The dye should begin to transfer to the cloth.

55. Instant Art Centers

Have some extra cookie sheets? If not, ask your friends. Nothing is better for keeping cut-and-paste projects contained. The edges keep all those scraps of paper on the tray instead of on the floor. -Amanda Freeman

56. Bingo! 
Kids love to paint, but brushes can be hard to control for small hands and the cleanup is extensive. Use bingo stamp bottles filled with liquid watercolor and cleaning is a breeze.

57. Too Much Art
So much artwork, so little wall space. When kids' work piles up, take photographs of their masterpieces and post them on your website, or make them into an inexpensive photo book. (Try shutterfly.com or snapfish.com.)

58. Glitter
Transfer the sparkly stuff into recycled salt and pepper shakers. (Little hands find them easier to control!)

59. Save the Brushes
Extend the life of your brushes by putting them away clean and dry. Have students wash brushes with soap and water and then stand them to dry in jars filled with popcorn or lentils. The jars will catch any drops.
FIGHT GERMS
60-68 
A five-minute daily clean routine can help keep the germs at bay and your classroom gleaming. Have your helpers of the day use disinfectant wipes to scrub down these hot spots:

- Desktops
- Countertops
- Light switches
- Doorknobs
- Keyboards
- Cabinet handles
- Drawer pulls
- Faucets
- Water fountains
Online Organization Tools
69. RemembertheMilk.com This free personal organization tool works online and with mobile phones.
70. 43things.com You enter a list of goals you want to accomplish and other users can "cheer" you on.
71. Tadalist.com Ta-da List allows you to create a to-do list in 30 seconds. Your lists will be hosted at a unique URL assigned just to you.
72. Docs.google.com Google Docs let you share work online and access your documents from anywhere.
73. Mommytracked.com Dozens of downloadable forms for work and home.

KEEP TRANSITIONS FUN


74. Ring, Ring
Sounding a small bell or chime brings my class to order much more effectively than me trying to talk over the noise. -Melissa Valencia

75. Time for Talk

I let my first graders have quick "chat breaks" of a minute or two. When it is time to get back to work I count down slowly from five. -Suzanne Gerczynski

76. Attention, Please

I use wooden castanets, a New Year's horn, or a wooden train whistle. They enjoy the surprise! -Ann Trastevere

77. Brain Break 
Between activities, have kids take turns acting out a fun or silly thing (e.g., catch and reel in a fish, hit a home run and then cheer for yourself). -Jordan Anderson

78. Downward Dog 
If our lesson is longer than 30 minutes, we take a quick yoga break: strike a pose and do some breathing to get the blood circulating. -Heather Burch

79. Dance Party 

After a period of intense focus, I transition with a One-Minute Dance Party. We play fast dance music. They know at the end of the minute they need to be ready to do what's next. -Nancy Hodges Barlow

80. Sign It!
I teach my kids the sign language alphabet! If we have to wait outside the music or library room door, we can silently practice our spelling words using the ASL alphabet. -Erin Harper

MAKE LESSON PLANNING EASY

81. Break it Up
I break my lesson plans into half-hour chunks to make sure we use every minute. -Kathie Gilbert

82. Standards First 
Start with what you'll be testing (the standard), then plan how the students will demonstrate it. From there, plan how and what you'll teach them. -Jolene Wagner 

83. Sticky Notes
I write my schedule and lesson plan ideas on Post-it notes because nothing goes exactly as planned. This way I can move things around. -Sara Griffin   
84. Style Code 
I place a letter (A=Auditory, V=Visual, K=Kinesthetic) by each lesson plan idea to keep track of learning styles. -Elena Beehler 

85. Math on Monday 
Try to plan one subject's lessons for the next week each day. On Tuesdays, plan social studies, etc.
KEEP KIDS ON TRACK

86. Picture It 
I write the daily schedule on the board with picture cues. -Laurel L. Wodrich

87. Kitchen Timer 

Multipurpose tool of the gods. Use it for transitions, group time, journaling, cleanup time.

88. Tell Kids What They Should Do
Rather than telling them what they should not do, this simple twist on how to give directions may revolutionize how you communicate with your students.

89. Teach Study Skills 
Never assume kids know how to study. Teach them how to review a chapter.

90. Morning Mail 
Set two trays near your desk, one for money (lunch, book orders) and one for parent notes. Check them quickly during morning work.  
ORGANIZE YOUR LIBRARY

91. Student Librarians 
Every year, I have my first graders sort our books according to the categories that they think are important. They always know what books we have. -Jamie Chaffee
92. Library Cards
When students borrow a book, have them write the name of the book on an index card and place it in a pocket chart. Later they can write about the book on the back on the card.
93. Market Your Books
Use bookstore tricks! Front-face books you'd like them to read and try themed display tables.
94. Easy Book Return
Label clothespins with each child's name. When they borrow a book, have them clip their clothespin to the basket.
95. Book Care 101 
Teach children how to care for books, use bookmarks, and repair books when needed.

96. Match Up
Place stickers (yellow stars, blue circles) on your baskets and the books inside and they'll be easy to return to the right place.
PARENT COMMUNICATION

97. Student Information Sheets 
I send home student information forms the first week. On the back of the sheet is a contact log I use all year long. -Kechia Williams

98. E-mail Newsletter
A weekly e-mail that explains what's going on in class keeps parents in the know.

99. Positive Calls 
I schedule the time for five positive calls home per week. -Kechia Williams

100. Family Projects 
I do family projects each month-quilt squares, collecting food for a food bank, etc. The children love having their parents involved! -Diane Gold 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reading in Front of the Class

One of the things I have gotten much better at this year is reading in front of the class. I used to HATE reading to the class, or really reading out loud in general, because I read so much faster than I talk. The more I have practiced, the more I like it. I began to think of it as a way to model fluency and reading with expression and realized that if I focus on those things, just as we ask children to, I was a much better reader.

My students are a great audience and they LOVE books!We take full advantage of this and teach through our reading time as much as possible. Here is a list of things from the "Childhood 101" blog that are some basic ways for children to learn through story time. To see the full post click here.


1. As you read a new book, pause to make observations together or ask questions about what is happening in the story.
2. In picture books, illustrations are as important as words. Notice together interesting details or clues as to what is happening in the story.
3. For older children, ask what they think will happen next or what they would do if they were in a similar situation.
4. At the appropriate moment, pause as an invitation for your child to join you in reading a rhyming word or familiar phrase.
5. Ask your child to point to where the words are on a page (as separate to the illustrations). Talk about the words being the part of the book which you read.
6. Point to the words as you read them. This will show your child where you start reading, that you read English from left to right and that there is one word represented on the page for each word that you say.
7. When re-reading familiar books, point out (or ask your child to point out) any letters which are significant to them, for example, the first letter of their name.
8. For older children, notice punctuation marks, such as full stops, question marks and exclamation marks.
9. Explore the end pages of the book. SquiggleMum posted about the purpose and possibilities of end pages here.

Explore the Cover: (original post)

1. Read the title of the book. You might like to point out the words which make up the title with your finger.
2. Read and point out the name of the author.
3. And the illustrator.
4. Point out any letters which are significant to your child, for example, the first initial of their name.
5. Before reading a book for the first time, look at the cover illustration and talk about any clues you can see which might help you both to understand what the book is about.
6. Look at the spine of the book - point out the title and talk about why a book has a spine, SquiggleMum has a great post about book spines here.
7. Use the correct vocabulary - cover, title, author, words, illustrator, illustrations, spine.
Whilst you might not do all of these things every time, taking time to explore the features of the book cover helps your child to;
  • Build prior knowledge of what the book is about
  • Make predictions
  • Set the purpose for reading
all of which are important, especially when it comes to comprehending what you (and later they) are reading.


Hopefully I will get a chance to post some specific lessons we have taught or introduced through stories, but what I like about these tips is that anyone can implement them and when done in moderation, the children won't even notice they are learning!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

NYT Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010

In Teaching Reading Through Children's Literature and many subsequent courses we learn that illustrations are not just for looks. Children learn through looking at the pictures. The illustrations in children's books tell part of the story. They are there to compliment and enhance the plot.

In our classroom, we have teach the children that there are 3 ways to read: 1. Read the words 2. Read the pictures (notice we say READ not look) and 3. Re-tell the story.

Children who practice all three ways will have the best comprehension of the story.

I am excited to read the books listed in the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010. I will put it on my 'to do' list! I hope the books are as good as the pictures.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Field Trip Talk

One thing I love about field trips is getting a chance to talk to the children a little bit more casually than usual. Bus rides, lunch time, and down time bring about some interesting conversations:

Today we passed a cemetery on our way to the field trip:
S: "Miss Prinzo...That's where all of the dead people live!"

Talking about TV:
J: L, you watch too much TV.
L: No I don't. I only watch a million hours a day.

Revere's Levy Goes Down

I would have given anything to still bea registered voter in Bath, Ohio this week so I could vote in favor of Revere's levy. It makes me sick that the levy was turned down. The Revere Local School District has not been irresponsible with tax payer's money what so ever. They have stretched a 5-year operating levy over 9+ years. There is only so much they can do before the cuts to the budget start effecting the quality of education students receive. When I went to Revere, I knew that we might not have a lot of school spirit, but our community still cared about the education of its children. We expect the best, but this vote showed, that we aren't ready to sacrifice for it.

Election defeat: http://www.ohio.com/news/106582788.html

Pre-election scrutiny: http://www.ohio.com/news/education/105619938.html

Revere Board of Edu responds to questions about levy: http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2010/10/summit_county_revere_school_le.html

My mom tonight told me that she is "so thankful you are out of there." I have always believed in public education, mainly because of the Revere Local School District. A parent should not have to be grateful that her child is out of school. I know the system needs fixed, I doubt our political figures have the miracle solution they have campaigned on, but I hope the Revere community has the sense to do what they can when the Levy is placed back on the ballot again

Election Day

We spent a lot of time this week talking about elections and voting.

It was a week that really reinforced my belief that my job as an Early Childhood Educator is so much more than teaching math and reading, it is about giving children a foundation to being a  good citizen, showing them how to treat one another, and teaching them social skills that will last a lifetime.

So we talked about voting! I was amazed at how fascinated my children are about the voting process. We talked about it for about 20 minutes on Monday when we changed the calendar, and for close to 40 minutes during our Tuesday morning meeting (for those of you not in ECE...that is like an eternity for class discussion).

We also had more formal activities in which we read books about elections ("Duck for President" and "Otto Runs for President") and voted on important class issues (what to do for our Thanksgiving celebration and what to do for our January monthly project). All of the children signed in, voted secretly on the issues, and were given a "I voted today" sticker. We announced the results later in the day and conducted a short discussion on how voting results are announced.

Here are some of the topics we covered. I personally was amazed at the depth of the discussion and the questions my children asked:

- Voting is a way to show your opinion on important public matters.
- If you don't vote, you can't complain (a personal favorite).
- Poll locations are based on where you live
- What polling locations look like.
- Why you have to show your ID when you go to vote/
- Voting is a private thing. You should not feel pressured to vote for a particular candidate and you should not have to share who you voted for.
- Why political campaigns can be negative.
- You can not campaign at a polling location.
- How results are announced to the public.
- What a levy is
- What a non-presidential election is
- Election day is the first Tuesday of every month.
- You can elect people into positions or vote for or against an issue.
- Majority rules.
- People in different cities vote on different issues.

I think we have some future politicians in our classroom...or even more importantly, future caring and compassionate voters!

"A passive and ignorant citizenry will never create a sustainable world." -Andrew Gaines

Past, present, and future

Yesterday we were talking about past, present, and future. 


We were looking at pictures of a 7 year old boy (past), a 30 year old man (present) and we asked our kids what they thought he would look like in the future..."Dead." 


I can't argue with that.

Teachable Moments

During my first observation in Preschool Practicum, my supervisor spent a lot of time talking with me about the importance of teachable moments (apparently I missed quite a few). It was probably the most influential talk I have had since beginning practicum, and I can guarantee you I am a better teacher now than I was because I have been able to capitalize on "teachable moments."

The hardest thing about teaching in the moment is that it is unplanned. As a teacher, you have to be flexible and make a split-second decision on whether or not this moment is worth capitalizing on, worth taking away from your next lesson. I have found that more often or not, teachable moments are worth it. 

Being able to capitalize on a moment, and really capturing the students' interest, is an invaluable opportunity to expand a students' learning. 

This Tuesday was full of teachable moments...

I gave impromptu lessons on being courteous to authority figures, allowing people to concentrate on their work, why we shut off water when we work on plumbing, how a crock pot works, and, my favorite, the voting process. Needless to say, it was a crazy day. I do, however, believe that the lessons learned were worth the craziness! I believe we learn by living, regardless of whether or not we are in the classroom!

I found a blog forum from PBS that could not be better at explaining teachable moments...I highly recommend it:


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"The prime function of the children's book writer is to write a book that is so absorbing, exciting, funny, fast and beautiful that the child will fall in love with it. And that first love affair between the young child and the young book will lead hopefully to other loves for other books and when that happens the battle is probably won. The child will have found a crock of gold. He will also have gained something that will help to carry him most marvelously through the tangles of his later years. 
Roald Dahl" 
 Roald Dahl

Lightbulb

I was working with a student the other day and he was having trouble understanding a concept...


"Miss Prinzo, I think I need to change my light bulb."


He proceeds to pretend to open his head, unscrews a lightbulb, screws a new one in, and closes his head...


"Oh! Now I understand!"


The best part: he did!

In all seriousness, the "click" or "light bulb" when students finally understand what they have been working on is my favorite part of teaching. Those are the moments I live for.

We still have to do our jobs


"A good teacher has to work with the cards they're dealt," she said. "We have to do a good job even if we don't have the parent involvement because our students cannot fail." Roll Hill School Principal Vicki Graves-Hill

Enough said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teach For America...the reason I have been MIA this week

So I have very recently decided that I am going to apply for Teach For America. I have been using every moment of my spare time to create my application materials and learn everything I can about TFA. The more I learn, the more I want to become a corps member.

Here is my favorite video from TFA. It explains why you should get involved and the impact TFA is making in our schools today. Teach For America- Learn More

What I have decided is that I will put my all into this application and the application process. If I am selected, I will give everything I can to the program and my students. If I do not get in, I will still make an impact. I can still work to become an excellent teacher. I will still have an impact on my students and I will still work towards becoming an advocate for educational reform.

Regardless of this program, I am starting to realize the changes that will come before graduation. The more time I spend student-teaching, the more I am ready for them. Applications, resumes, and interview will be my life over the next nine months or so and I am looking forward to the day that can post what comes next.

A quick update on life with the First Grade Froggers: We had a lot of "fun" on our field trip and parent-teacher conferences were this week. Every teacher's favorite things ;)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why aren't our teachers the best and the brightest?

This article from the Washington Post discusses one very real problem with our education system (and teacher edu. programs). It is something I have noticed in my own experience and a problem that I think should be a major part of educational reform.

Why aren't our teachers the best and the brightest?

Now I am not saying that you have to be brilliant to be a teacher, but I do believe that students graduating in the top of their classes would make more capable teachers. Students who can problem solve, think critically, and have an understanding of theory and content often make for very capable teacher.

I do think the article should expand to look at top students beyond academics. Look at what college students do outside of the classroom. To me, that tells a lot more about a person and his or her abilities. That is one reason I like UC's Honors Program so much. Yes, you can take enriched classes, but you are encouraged to develop as a leader, engage in our culture or different cultures, and partake in service learning. It is that stuff, the outside stuff, that I think really teaches skills that translate into the classroom. These are the students that I would want teaching my children. These are the types of students we need to bring into America's classrooms.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pictures of our classroom!

Here are a few pictures of our classroom:

This is the view from the teacher's desk/ small group table. Notice the non-traditional seating. We have two floor tables that the children can choose to sit at.They can also choose sitting tables (or to stand at their tables).  We do not have assigned seats. Though a few children have restrictions (ex: can't sit with certain people or need to sit at a certain kind of table) we do not have a problem. By this point in the year, the children have become comfortable in their spots, but occasionally we have them mix it up. An interesting note, prior to coming to Fairview (an academically excellent school with a ton of parent support), my mentor teacher taught at a very urban school. She had similar seating options for her children and found it eliminated a lot of problems (they even had a few other options like bean bags and reclining chairs). 

In the cubbies. Each child has a mailbox (on top). The mailbox is emptied every day and we put their work and stuff to go home in it. The children also store their lunch money and small personal items in it (hair ties, headbands, silly bands---all of the important things). The bottom cubbies are shared between two students. In each cubbie is 2 clipboards (which the children can use at pretty much any time for alternate seating), 2 small white boards, their Rosey Reader bags, and they store their classroom bags overnight. 

We store coats, back packs, and lunches outside of the room.



This is the view from the door. I want to point out the community buckets on each table. The children share all of their basic supplies (crayons, scissors, glue, pencils, erasers) that are on the table. Each child has his or her own personalized folder and notebook, but everything else is shared. We have a second community basket that comes out for writer's workshop. It has pens, highlighters, and writing paper for the children to use. Additionally, we have marker baskets that the children can use for specific activities or with special permission.

This is from the back of the room. You can also see our puzzle center, and math manipulative which are open to the children. The picnic table is also a favorite spot to buddy read and play our favorite math games!


This is our card system for behavior. The students get 4 cards for the week. If they misbehave (and have been redirected) we ask them to pull a card. Children who pull no cards get to pick from the treasure chest on Fridays. Each card pulled is equivalent to five minutes off of fun Friday. The card system works well, especially to stop a behavior immediately. It is also non-obtrusive and does not make it obvious which children are behaving and misbehaving.

These are our GFB's or Good Fit Books. We have 4 levels separated by color. We give the children their color and each week they can pick a GFB for the week. More info about GFB will come when I get around to posting about CAFE.


"Math I'm Done Center": These are hanging bags that have individual math activities for the children to work on after they have finished their work in math. We have a "Reading I'm Done Center" equivalent for language arts time over by the GFBs.

Big Books: Any time the children finish working early they can get a big book and take it to read anywhere in the room. (fun tip: the children LOVE big books. My mentor teacher takes the kit/formula program social studies and science unit books to add to her big book collection for more books. It is a great way to grow your collection and exposes the kids to non-fiction books that they might not have tried)


Our classroom library: Every morning the children can pick 2 books out of the classroom library to pick for the day (they can keep them more than one day if they would like to...the point is to have 2 library books in their desk bags at all times). The children can read their library books during any free time in the day. The books are categorized by type or author (for big names like Dr. Suess). Each category has a sticker. Each book in the category has the same sticker on the front, top right corner so children can put them back appropriately (and for the most part they do a really good job). Some of the boxes are switched out during the year. 

Writing Center


Book Beach: This is our reading center. The children LOVE it. There is only three people allowed in Book Beach and they are the only ones who are allowed to read the books on the shelf. This might seem unfair, but it makes the center (and thus reading) something special for the children. The bookshelf has books we have read in class and our current and past author of the month.



Saturday, October 9, 2010

On our Minds: Picture This

Scholastic recently posted on their  "on our minds" blog about the trend for children to be pushed into reading chapter books over picture books. I personally did not realize this was a trend.(although looking back at my last few times in the children's section of the library or bookstore I did hear children being pushed to pick out something harder or more challenging). I do not like it though.

I will let the blog, which responds to the NY Times article, Picture Books No Longer a Staple: Picture Books Languish as Parents Push 'Big Kids' Books speak for itself.

I agree with the major points in the blog completely. I do think that another important point to bring up is this: Why does it have to be picture books v. chapter books? We should be helping our children read both as both can teach valuable skills.

My "Boyfriend"

H: (to no one in particular) "I have a new boyfriend."
(a minute or so later) H: "I have a new boyfriend."
Me: "Who is your new boyfriend?"
H: "I don't know."
Me: "Oh, where did you meet him?"
H: "I don't know." (and walks off)

Friday, October 8, 2010

How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders

This article comes from the Washington Post. Written collectively by America's Public Education leaders it addresses so many of the critical issues in education today. I started to highlight parts I agreed with and realized I had highlighted 99% of the article so instead I have print it out and put a copy in my quote book and my practicum binder. Read it, think about it, discuss it:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/07/AR2010100705078.html

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

A friend put this up on Facebook a while back and it stuck with me. 


As teachers, our goals are so much more than to babysit other people's kids. We want to educate them. We want to help them grow, learn, and develop. In my mind, you can't put a price on that.


Are you sick of highly paid teachers? The hefty salaries of teachers are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - baby sit! We can get that for less than minimum wage. That's right! Let's pay them $3.00 an hour and only for the hours they work; not for any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 AM to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch -- that equals 6.5 hours). Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day... maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations. LET'S SEE.... that's $585 X 180 = $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator must need new batteries!) What about those special education teachers or the ones with Master's degrees or extra endorsements on their certification? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it up to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6.5 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year. Wait a minute – there must be something wrong here! There sure is! The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students = $9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student--a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids! WHAT A DEAL!!!! Make a teacher smile; send this to someone who appreciates teachers. Even with this kind of math, teachers would still be underpaid. Many more hours of prep are spent than this shows, and WHO gets 45 mins. for lunch. That would be a luxury.

As teachers, our goals are so much more than to babysit other people's kids. We want to educate them. We want to help them grow, learn, and develop. In my mind, you can't put a price on that.

Write, Write, Write!

I have collected quite a few ideas, activities, and strategies to improve student writing. Here are a few of my favorites:

- Some of our children are not very interested in writing. We have been really trying to give the children many opportunities to write about things that interest them. It is amazing how much better some of the children write when they get to choose the topic. One of the things my mentor did to introduce and make writing meaningful to the children really stuck out to me. She talked with the children about their favorite movies and TV shows. After talking for a minute or two she asked the children if they knew that all of their favorite movies and TV shows started out as writing. Most of the children did not, and they responded with questions and excitement for their new found knowledge.

- The 4-square method. This is a method that can be adapted for any level and is really easy to teach the children. Here is a link to a ppt. that explains the method: http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/taylorse/About/Writing%20for%20Everyone.pdf

Right now we have been using the four square method to make 4 page books. The children pick a topic to put in the center. Then, in the first three boxes they write something about the topic. Then they go back and turn the thoughts in their boxes into complete sentences. The next step is to add an ending. We are trying to discourage them from saying "the end" which is a difficult concept. (I mean, if I look at my own writing and my experiences tutoring at the collegiate level, the conclusion is always the most difficult thing to do. We, as more experienced writers, can always fall back on a summary, but children writing four page books cannot really summarize their pages again). After the children write their sentences, we have them go back and add details to their sentences. The details can be descriptive words or additional sentences or related thoughts. Next the children go through their four squares and make edits to their squares. Then they read it to a partner and make any additional edits. At this point, they sign up for an individual conference with one of us and pull something out to work on. We call the children for conferences one by one and go over their four-square with them. We make sure they can read their story, help them edit (on their level), and help them spell any words they circled (a writing strategy we have taught them so they focus on getting out their thoughts rather than spelling) or essential words. After their conference, they are ready for their final draft! They take each box and put it on a book page and illustrate that page. Finally they make a cover and put it into their writing portfolio. What's next? They start all over again! I know that sounds complicated, but it really is a great way to teach writing, and it is really simple once you see it in progress. I plan on using it not only as a teacher, but also with my student-athletes. You might even see 4 squares on my next paper outline!

- Mini Offices: Mini offices are a file folder with writing resources glued onto it for the children to use with their writing. Prior to school starting, we fill the mini offices with different resources (which I will list below) and then have the children take their folder home and decorate the cover with labeled pictures of their families, things they like, special places etc. The covers serve two purposes. The first is that it has a lot of words that children want to use in their writing, but that teachers may not be able to help them spell (names especially). It also was a great way for us to learn about the children, and the children to learn about each other early in the year. Here is what else is in the mini office: Child's name, ABC chart, story words, color words, blends, shape words, money words, order words, the "5 W's", bossy'R words (-er,-ir,-ar,-or,-ur), vowel dipthongs, and word families. The children keep these with them in their desk bags and as a result have all of these wonderful resources at their fingertips for writers workshop or independent work throughout the day.

More to come! I am learning as much about writing as the children!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Say What?

Today was a particularly enjoyable day with the First Grade Froggers. I found myself smiling with them all day. Here are some of my favorite moments:

- I was working with a student and his pencil fell on the floor. I reached down to get it and he said, "No! I'll get it. After all, I am a lobster." (later this same child pointed to a crab on our phonics sheet and announced to his group that it was his cousin...clearly he takes his lobster identity very seriously.)

-Two of my children were paired together in both gym class and math. I don't think they had every played together before and before lunch I overheard this conversation:
A: "Your my husband!"
M: " No, I'm not your husband until recess."
A: "Ohhhh...so then you are my husband?"

- The inevitable conversation about babies and husbands came up today (as it has at least once in every single one of my placements...)This time it somehow became a whole class conversation.
E: "Miss Prinzo doesn't have babies!"
H: "Yeah, she's not married. (looks at me) Your not married."
L: "She's not even a grown up, she can't have babies!"
E: "She is too a grown up"
T: "No, she is a student"
K: "She is a student-grown up"
...and then my mentor teacher and I took over the conversation...