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!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bring it on 2nd 9 weeks. Bring it on.

For the majority of my life I have been a student. Now, I am a teacher. I live and breathe by the school-year calender. In all honesty, I do not think in calendar years... I think in school years. I can tell you what grade I was in when things happened, but the year? Give me a second to figure out what grade I was in and then I can tell you the year. I do not have New Year's resolutions in January like the rest of the world. I have them in August.

As with most New Year's Resolutions, my school-years resolutions usually fade away. The ambitious goals I had are gone. The goals of how to improve my life, my health, and my education are gone. They are replaced by day to day routines, the monotony of every day life.

My teaching goals are a lot like my school year resolutions. The excitement and enthusiasm I had is now gone. It has been replaced by a daily routine--a cycle of going to school, bringing work home from school to do, eating and sleeping. My routine for the past 9 weeks was exhausting. It was not at all sustainable. This routine caused me to question myself and my career more than a few times.

Towards the end of my first nine weeks I made a bargain with myself. I will give teaching 4 years of my life, putting everything I can into it. It took my 4 years to become a teacher and I should give it at least that much time before leaving the field. After 4 years I will re-assess. My roommates and I joke that we need to find careers that you can leave work behind at 5 o'clock and not worry about it again until 9am the next morning. We joke because we know that we are not the type of people who would be happy in a career that we could just "turn off" when the work day is over. We could make teaching that kind of career, but we would not be the best teachers. We care too much about our students. We hate the work, but love it at the same time. The reality is I do not know what else I would do.

So if I am not ready to give it up, I have to get better. I have to find more of a balance in my life. I have to find it now, not later. The great thing about school year resolutions is that the school year is broken into pieces. My life used to be measured in quarters, not it is measured in 9 week cycles. My goals for the next nine weeks are...

- Find a balance in my life.
- Regain my passion for teaching. I want to enjoy spending time with my students. I want to have funny stories to tell. I want to enjoy waking up and going to school again.
- Help my students grow at least 2 reading levels. So many of my students did not show growth in the first 9 weeks. This is unacceptable. We all need to improve.

I can't say that tomorrow will bring the enthusiasm that comes with the first day of school, but I am using it as a fresh start. I need a fresh start. I can't wait until next August rolls around. Late-October will have to do. I have had a week to prepare for tomorrow and even though there are plenty of things I would like to have accomplished over fall break, I am as ready as I will ever be. Bring it on 2nd 9 weeks. Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rest In Peace Mr. Lindner

4 years ago the only thing I knew about Mr. Lindner was that he was someone who I assumed was either rich and/or important enough to have multiple buildings at UC named after him. It was annoying really, to be a freshman and have to figure out which Lindner building people are referring to. As I began to make Cincinnati my home, however, the Lindner name began to mean something. It was more than ice cream or a new skyscraper downtown. It was the name of a man and a family who supported our city. Mr. Lindner is what we, in the middle class, hope from every wealthy businessman. Someone who cares about the community in which he lives---someone who cares about the people who live in the community.

Mr. Lindner's generosity was seemingly endless. His contributions to UC and educational endeavors across the city have provided access and enrichment to hundreds of thousands of students. His legacy will continue, and hopefully so many of the lessons that came with his generosity...

“Dear Student,” Lindner wrote, “I have been very blessed in my life. While I wasn't fortunate enough to go to college, you should know that I ‘study" every day of my life. I love to learn and would encourage you to increase your knowledge in every way − every day!”


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reading Growth

My running records are finished! Let me say that one more time in celebration...my running records are finished!

As excited as I am to be finished I have mixed feelings about my results. Here is the break down...

Running Record Data

X-axis: Students
Y-Axis: Running record level
Blue series: entry level
Red Series: growth, current level

7 students showed no progress
7 students showed expected progress (1-2 levels)
6 students showed significant progress (3+ levels)

I am working really hard to get past the fact that my students have not made the growth I hoped for. My big goal translated into running record language is that all of my students will reach a level 18 by the end of the year. I honestly am starting to doubt that this can happen, but it is too early to give up on my students. I need to create a plan.

I only started looking at my data today, but I am already trying to think of ways to improve.

My lowest students (0-3's) need decoding skills. I need to incorporate more work with blending and segmenting to help them better decode words. I also need to reinforce practicing word work and sight words.

My middle students (4-8s) have mastered basic decoding skills, but need to be more careful readers and make sure that the words they are reading make sense when you look at the text. We also need to continue to build fluency. Some of theses students REALLY need to practice being aware of what they read. Students need to be more detailed in their comprehension answers.

My high students (10-12s) are on the right track. I need to really build higher order comprehension skills, retelling skills, and help them "chunk" larger words.

So what am I going to do about it:
I think that a more consistent guided reading routine will be really helpful. We have only had 2 full weeks of guided reading and I think that having a consistent routine (and my new guided reading groups based on new levels) will spark a lot of growth.

I really want to create more interactive centers for my word work center... I have been mostly doing worksheets at the center and many of the students that I really need to reach with these skills are those who do not have the independent skills and/ or attention to complete them on their own. Hopefully more interesting centers will allow for more genuine practice. The question now turns to what...

I also really want to build more lessons on decoding into my whole group instruction. This is really difficult because my students are on such different levels that When I teach to the middle I have half of my students that either have no idea what I am talking about or get the answers so fast no one has a chance to catch up.

Better use my parents/ family resources: I do not think I am fully keeping in contact with my parents. I think that some of my parents are more of a resource than I have been utilizing. I need to create more individualized reading homework and work with parents to make sure it is done and done well.

Incorporate more student response activities: I have been doing too much teaching whole group. I really need to create time for more independent work so that I can pull small groups of students for intervention. I really would like to get to the point where I pull 1-2 skill groups each day beyond guided reading.

Create a more print rich environment. My students really have taken ownership of the print I put up in the classroom. It is amazing how much I see them look and talk about it. I would like to slowly add in more print for my students. My first step is moving and beginning my word wall, but I would also like to put up our daily schedule, introduce a birthday chart, and add our related arts to the calendar.

My mind is going a million miles a minute and I really need to reign myself in. The more concrete actions I can get done, the better. I want my students to grow as learners more than anything in the world, but I also have to become more aware of what I can manage and prioritize what will help me get the closest to my big goal. I have been getting caught up in all of the little things which I really don't think is the most beneficial for me or for my students.

I will do my best to be better about updating my blog in the progress. Hopefully the reflection will help me grow as much as it did when I was student teaching :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Miss Prinzo, I'm learning. yeah?"

I started guided reading last week and I am really enjoying the time I spend with my students. I have some huge challenges ahead of me trying to get my students up to grade-level and guided reading is one of the few times I can provide differentiation and individualized instruction. One of the biggest challenges with my Read reading group (my non-readers) is getting them to understand how letter sounds are blended together to make words. We have been reviewing our district's sound cards each day and I realized last week how dependent my students were on the picture. Many of my lowest students were not even looking at the letters to make the sound. On the suggestion of one of my teammates I covered up the pictures. Today the red group went picture-less. This was a HUGE moment that I had been building excitement about all last week. My students really did a great job. After getting her first sound card (students get to hold the card when they get the sound right) one of my students' goes...

"Miss Prinzo, I'm learning. Yeah?"

After I confirmed that we were infact learning, she told EVERYBODY that that they were learning.

"We're learning. Yeah! You learning! We learning."

Her excitement was contagious... the red group left guided reading with huge smiles because they were learning! Here is to investment being student generated!

What the students want...

" In their "Voices of a Nation" discussion, young people provided insight into their own experiences with education and what they think needs to be done to ensure that every student receives a world-class education. "


I'm a first year teacher...failure comes with the position!

I  am going to cheat a little bit on blogging and pretend a discussion board post from class i s really a blog post. Discussion board post or not, it pretty much describes my life right now.

I am a first year teacher in my first quarter of teaching. Failure comes with the position!

In all seriousness,as a new teacher I have experienced more failure than success. I could give you hundreds of instances of when I have made the wrong decision, turned in something late, said the wrong thing, set the wrong tone, or taught an impossible-to-understand lesson. What I am slowly realizing is that failure comes with the territory of being a first year teacher. It is really easy to become defeated by each of my little failures. It is really easy to absorb this negative energy. It effects me and it effects my students. What I have realized is that it is not the failures that matter, it is my response to them. How do I fix the problem? How can I re-teach a lost lesson? How can I prevent mistakes from happening again? I am trying to use failure as a learning tool, but it is one of those things that is easier said than done!

Falling forward...inspiration from my grad school professor: