Showing posts from March, 2010

Day 31 of SOLSC

Hooray!! I feel a true sense of accomplishment that I was able to communicate my thoughts, ideas and sometimes maybe a rant or two, in a way that made me feel like I was making a difference. When I reflect upon this month of slicing, I notice that I sometimes need a little nudge on what to write about or that I feel that there might not be anything significant from that day. But, I do realize that there is something everyday to reflect or even improve upon. Some days there might be a celebration and other days may just be a reason to learn a lesson to become a better teacher or all around person. Whatever the reason, I know that this is just the beginning of my journey of finding my "something wonderful" and blogging to others, to share what I have learned. 
So, my something wonderful for today is that I can set my mind to something and accomplish it. I'm also able to see what I do, why I do it and how I can make it better.

Day 30 of SOLSC

Round 2 of state assessments  went pretty smoothly. Today was the first part of the math section that our 3rd graders take. They mentioned to me that it was a great idea to review the last couple of weeks so that they would be prepared. I thought to myself "Hooray" and hopefully their scores reflect all of our hard work. One great thing is that no one said that they saw anything that they have never seen before or had any content that was just "too hard to figure out". So, maybe (fingers crossed) we will have all at meeting standards and above. As long as they work hard and do their very best, then I will be a happy teacher!

Day 29 of SOLSC

One thing that I love doing is reading about other teachers doing awesome activities that I can use within my own classroom. One of my favorite websites that I love visiting with from the teacher Beth Newingham. (just google her)I know of lots of teachers that use her website as a resource to improve their classroom instruction. She is a 3rd grade teacher in Michigan who is also a scholastic teaching matters contributor. 
She has wonderful ways to engage students and incorporate creativity in each lesson. I found a really cool idea that I am excited to implement in my own classroom. For part of her social studies curriculum, she has created a unit called the United States Region Tour. It takes the different regions of the US and breaks each one down and the students have "traveling" experiences with food, monuments, letters, historical facts and so much more. She states that, "providing students with authentic learning experiences is something I work hard to do in my cl…

Day 28 of SOLSC

This weekend I haven't done anything too structured or extremely stressful. I find that if I take time to recharge my batteries, I tend to be a little more effective when I teach during the week. Last night, I watched the movie "Julie and Julia" about a woman named Julie who cooked and blogged her way through Julia Child's book in a year. I absolutely loved it! It's great to watch something that I can relate to my own life but at the same time I'm able find some sort of inspiration as well as motivation. 
I have learned through this slice of life challenge that it's a great way for me to express myself but also to take time to learn from others experiences. I love reading other people's posts, whether they be teachers or not, and listening to their wit and lessons learned through daily events. I have also found that taking time to reflect upon my own experiences as well as actions can help me to not become stagnant but to continue to grow. 
My something…

Day 27 of SOLSC

So, I love to read and I like to spend some time every weekend devoted to reading. I just finished the 9th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series (what HBO's True Blood series is based on) and I am sort of stuck on what to read next. I also just finished my teacher's book club book "Same Kind of Different As Me", which is the complete opposite of vampire books. I love reading chick-lit but I also try to balance genres. As a result, I'm looking for an array of titles or series to get into next and expand my reading horizons. 
Any ideas?

Day 26 of SOLSC

Sometimes I don't realize how much I can learn from my students. 1 month ago I had a new student from Haiti join my classroom. He spoke almost no English and was pretty confused about what we did and how we did things here in America. But, as soon as I sat down with him I was amazed with what he knew! He is a whiz at math and as of today he already has all his letters and sounds down pat. Since he has the foundation of the French language, acquiring English isn't as difficult as one might think. I'm feeling confident that he is on his way to success!
And so comes today. I now have a new student from China. My principal told me yesterday that she would be starting today and she knows little to no English. But, I was prepared since I just had this experience with my other new student. So, I did a little homework and checked out some Dr. Seuss books that are in Chinese and English and translated a couple of phrases that she (and I) should know. I must say that reading charact…

Day 25 of SOLSC

Every once in a while there is a small moment of giggles that seems to spread like wildfire with my students. This week our reading class is learning about astronauts in space, the space shuttle and gathering data from different planets. I gathered some books to read aloud so that I could extend my students learning. I was reading the book "G is for Galaxy" and we were reviewing different parts of the galaxy and making connections to our reading. As I was discussing Pluto and how it wasn't a planet anymore, I accidentally said Plunet when I was trying to say Pluto and planet. You would have thought that I pumped my students full of laughing gas because they were practically rolling on the ground giggling. So, I finished the book (with the background giggles) and mentioned that sometimes it just the little things that get us laughing. Of course, I had to giggle too.

Day 24 of SOLSC

Today for my class's counselor session we read a book about heroes. The book was "Everyday Heroes" written by kids and it discusses who they think are their heroes. It's wonderful to read about moms, dads, family members, friends and even sports heroes. One of my favorite parts is that all the kids talk about how everyone can be an everyday hero and all of us have one.
I think that I will have my students write their own book about who they feel is their hero and what impact he/she has made upon their life. This is a great way to see the effect of paying it forward and how much of an impact each person can make on our lives.

Day 23 of SOLSC

Gearing up for Math State Assessments next week!
This is the time for assessments and we are diligent about reviewing (not too much stress of course) and talking about good test-taking strategies. Each day before our regular lesson, we take 20 minutes to play a review Jeopardy game and I think that my kiddos like doing that rather than just paper and pencil review. One thing that I am conscious of though is that I am having the kids explain what they do and how they do it. Now, we'll see if they can put their great ideas in motion!

Day 22 of SOLSC

Back to school after a break is like driving through the fog and then ending up at a clear, bright sky leading you home. When I woke up this morning, I wasn't sure what day or time it was or if I was actually suppossed to go back today or not. After pushing the snooze button 3 times, I thought it would probably be a good idea to get up and start my day. I was in a lull through the morning until the kids got here. When they arrived, I saw the clouds part and the fog beginning to lift. After lunch, I sat down to read a story and I felt like I was back home where I belong. Now, it feels great and I'm so happy to be back. Only 9 more weeks until summer!!

Day 21 of SOLSC

Day 10 of Spring Break-
So, the end is near. I must go back to school tomorrow! But, I must say that recharging my batteries and spending time with my family was a great break and sometimes that is better than the worry of packing and flying and all that travel time. Perhaps next year I will travel to a sunny and tropical destination. :)
I was checking my facebook status and one of my friends posted a link to an article with Sir Ken Robinson, who is the author of "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything." He was discussing his take on the education system and how he compares it to a factory. "It's based on models of mass production and conformity that actually prevent kids from finding their passions and succeeding," he said. He feel that instead of trying to mass-produce children who are good at taking tests and memorizing things, schools should emphasize a child's personal development. He also stated that "not all kids are good at th…

Day 20 of SOLSC

Day 9 of Spring Break-
Dear Mother Nature, 
Please don't trick me into thinking that spring is right around the corner with 2 weeks of 50 and 60 degree days. I'm very surprised as well as upset that in the last 24 hours you have decided to give us a present of 4 inches of snow and the forecast calls for snow throughout today and tomorrow. I had my hopes up that the last couple of days of my spring break would bring sunshine and warm weather to enjoy with my family. I hope that this is the end of the snow in Kansas at least until November. Don't get me wrong, I love the seasons. But, winter is over and I'm tired of the snowy weather.
Thank you for your consideration.

Day 19 of SOLSC

Day 8 of Spring Break-  Some teachers at our school have started a teacher's book club and we will be having our final meeting next week. The book that I have read is Same Kind of Different As Me by Denver Moore and Ron Hall. The book is based upon the lives of Ron and Denver who lived lives on opposite ends of the spectrum. Ron was a well-off art dealer with a great life with plenty of money and success. Living in Louisiana was Denver, a son of sharecroppers who had a difficult and trying life in which he never thought he would escape from the chains of slavery in the 60's. This book tracks the individual lives of these 2 men and how the they meet each other, both of their lives are changed forever. This book follows the personal and spiritual journey that these men take that brings them to the realization that what matters is the impact and what you do, rather than what you have.  My something wonderful for today is that I can say that I truly enjoyed reading this book and it …

Day 18 of SOLSC

Day 6 of Spring Break-
It seems like my dreams and my real life take different directions with adventures.
Let me make a list of what I dreamt about last night. But, let me preface by saying that I have very interesting dreams that usually are confusing to try to understand. So, starting with the dream of a 3-D rock concert where people are flying around the room and I'm seeing people jumping over my head. Then, I was in a modeling competition where I couldn't figure out what shoes to wear. After that, I was dreaming about my husband in the back seat with me and my father in law driving in a mid 80's white Ford Mustang jumping ramps and doing total air flips where I felt like I was on a roller coaster. Then when we landed, we had to put our feet out the windows to push ourselves over. Finally, the icing on the cake, vampires running around the city and scaring everyone. ( I had just finished reading a vampire book-so I know where that came from haha). 
Well, I'm not sure …

Day 17 of SOLSC

Day 5 of Spring Break-
Well, I'm actually happy that I've been able to post every day so far for 17 days. But, I must admit that finding some interesting and diverse topics to write about has probably been my biggest struggle with the process. I find that teaching brings about many things to talk about as well as reflect upon. There are also many things that come up that I feel are the "usual" things that aren't as exciting to share or discuss. Mainly because of the boring repetition of events that happen within my day as an educator. But, today I have found something that I have chosen to reflect upon. 
Summer is arriving in a couple of months and I have been thinking about a plan in order to have a relaxing and fulfilling summer that is meaningful. I have taught summer school in the past and have enjoyed it but I feel like I need to branch out and find new and challenging activities to extend and stretch myself mentally and physically. 
So, my something wonderful …

Day 16 of SOLSC

Day 4 of Spring Break-
As I lay in the smooth warm sand, I feel the bright illuminating sun gently cascading over my body and releasing me into a calmness. The soft wind that arrives like a welcome friend and  soothes my skin and feels like silk. When I move my fingertips in the velvety sand I raise them to feel the falling specks caressing my hands. I hear a sound from the seems to be getting gradually louder and closer...
Then, my alarm goes off! Of course, I would wish to be in such a wonderful place enjoying the warm weather and sand. But, for now, it will be a wish for the future. It was time to get up and walk the dog. Back to reality!

Day 15 of SOLSC

Day 3 of Spring Break- One of my favorite parts of having time off is that I get time to find new resources and ideas to use within my classroom. I make sure, however, that I limit my time spent on school stuff because it's so easy to spend hours on it!
I wanted to share one of my favorite websites that I think has been a great resource for reading and writing workshop that I have used for many years. 
I have on my favorites a website from Beth Newingham-
She is a 3rd grade teacher who is also a scholastic teacher advisor that has wonderful and creative ideas on what to do and how to do it, which prevents me from having to reinvent the wheel when it comes to teaching. My favorite part is if you go to teacher resources, she has videos of her in action as well as worksheets, lessons and awesome extras to add to you curriculum. I try to recommend her to all my colleagues. 
So, my something wonderful for today is to try to integr…

Day 14 of SOLSC

Day 2 of Spring Break. I think that I sound like a broken record with the weather. Rain again. Boo! But, I'm determined to enjoy my time off and not let it get me down. 
As I was relaxing and watching TV today I came across the movie Marley and Me. I was watching it again (for like the 4th time) and I was thinking about my own experience with my dog Hank. I had read the book a couple of years ago and I loved that I was able to laugh and cry and relate to the experiences of this crazy dog.
I look over to the couch, where Hank practically lives, and noticed that he was watching the movie too. How cute! But, Hank will be Hank and when Marley was barking out the window, Hank chimed in with his barking as well. Not that I have a problem with barking but I have a 4 year old German Shepherd that decides that he wants to talk to everyone and it can be so loud that I'm sure that the neighbors hear him. The only time that I have complete peace is after a long walk and if he's asleep …

Day 13 of SOLSC

Day 1 of Spring Break!!! Yippee!!
Well, good news is that I got to see my mom and my little brother today. We just sat around and caught up with how things are going and updating each other on what's happening. 
Bad news is, it's raining and in the 40's again!!! BooHoo! I was sort-of hoping that the beginning of my spring break would be full of sunshine and warm, sunny days. Maybe later in the week. 
But, great news is that I have 9 days off and time for me and the family to get together. 
So, my something wonderful for today is even though the rain is gloomy, I won't be and I will look forward to relaxation and time to unwind!

Day 12 of SOLSC

Today is the last day of work before spring break! As I sit here typing this I am thankful that I have accomplished as much as I have up to this point in the school year. One state assessment down, many many hours of writing, reading, spelling, and just about everything. I'm so happy that I get a week to spend with my husband and my doggy and I will have time to take for me. There are books that I need to read and there are movies to watch!
So, today is purposefully planned out so that I get all my last minute things done. Then, at 4:00 I will be free!

Day 11 of SOLSC

I've always believed that reading is a way to escape reality and experience adventures. It has always been a way for me to live the lives of others and to truly learn about new and fascinating things. This year I wanted to find a way to encourage my students to read more but also inspire them to love reading as I always have. So, a teammate and I came up with starting an after school book club. We started last September and opened it up to all 3rd grade students. Out of 113 students we began with 68 students! I was so excited that so many students wanted to take time to read and do fun activities with books. (There are treats too!) 
We spend about 2 months on a book and we are now on our 4th book of the year. We still have 56 students who have stuck with it and I have seen a HUGE improvement with their interest in reading independently. I have parents call and email me all the time telling me that their kids don't want to go to bed because they can't stop reading! It warms …

Day 10 of SOLSC

Another day down and 2 more until spring break.
Let's see what I still need to accomplish:
report cards, newsletters, finish grading papers, rotate bulletin boards, rearrange desks, prepare for math state assessments that are 2 weeks after break, copy and plan for after break, add to district forms for accomodations, clean/sort classroom, replenish treasure box...
I think you get the point. Why does it always seem like my to do list is neverending. I guess it's part of being a teacher and everytime I accomplish one thing another pops up in its place. Well, I've decided that I will make a must-do top 5 to do list every day. Then, I must leave after those things on the list are done or I will be spending all my nights and weekends living at school. No way!
So, my wonderful thing for today is to stick to the top 5 most important things and then save the rest for later. That means less stress and worry for me. I must say that I've never had a student say that they must have …

Day 9 of SOLSC

Our school has really focused this year on increasing our students' independent reading stamina. So, my class and I brainstormed ways to achieve our goals of reading more books and reading for longer amounts of time. We are gradually working our way up to 30 minutes of independent reading per day and the students are excited about reaching that goal.
Every month, we decided that a great way to show what we've read is to put up a new theme bulletin board so that my students can record and post their independent reading books. During January, I put up a snowman and each of the books read by the students were recorded on snowballs. For February, I put up a large red heart and then each book was recorded on little pink hearts. This month, I have put up a leprechaun next to a pot'o'gold with a rainbow coming out of it and each book is recorded on a gold coin.  I expected that each week maybe we would have 10-15 books recorded on the chart. I was pleasantly surprised that it…

Day 8 of SOLSC

It seems like whenever I get something going, I tend to get tired of it quickly and it loses it's novelty. Well, exercising is no exception. Our school started this Biggest Loser contest with other schools in the district to see which school has the biggest "losers" that lose the most weight overall. So, I entered it about a month ago and had been pretty good about eating better and exercising 3 times a week for about 45 min to 1 hour. As a result, I have only lost 3 pounds. I'm not sure if it's just water or really 3 pounds. I'm a little blah about the whole thing so I decided to have a heart to heart with myself. 
I said, "Self, you should just get up and do it! There are many great activities that are fun and will keep you interested. Don't forget that spring is right around the corner and now there are even more opportunities to be outside. You know you love being outdoors! So, stop being lazy and think positive! Reinvigorate yourself and start fr…

Day 7 of SOLSC

The doorbell rings and as I open the door a smile reaches my face. It's my older brother Ziggy and my 3 1/2 year old nephew Kaz. I'm so excited to see them today since it has been a couple of months since we last hung out. 
I find that my heart warms as I pick Kaz up and give him a huge hug. Those adorable dimples and his sweet words make me melt. Since I don't have any kids of my own yet, I cherish these days that I get to spend some quality time just playing and catching up with my family. He has grown taller and he has a fresh new snazzy mohawk haircut. So cute!! 
We played with walkie-talkies and talked about how he was so excited to go camping soon in the family camper named Lola. He told me about how much he loves to play frisbee golf and how you have to practice to get better at it. We laughed and played and it was fantastic!
My something wonderful for today is just taking time to see the ones that I love. I don't get to do that as often as I'd like, but I feel…

Day 6 of SOLSC

Saturday arrives as a welcome present! After a week of stress and anxiety over whether my students would do well on our Reading State Assessments, it is relaxing to have a day to appreciate. No alarm clock (except my 4 yr old German Shepherd Hank who wonderfully wakes me at 6:30 every day haha), no obligations, no schedule to follow and a day to enjoy to take pleasure in. I find that catching up on my shows from the past week and reading my favorite book on the couch are things that help me recharge my battery and help me unwind and prepare for the week ahead. 
So, my something wonderful for today is to think about taking care of me. I plan a walk to take advantage of the 50 degree weather, spend some quality time with my husband (whom I don't get to see enough) and have a day to play!

Day 5 of SOLSC

This week ends the Read Across America week dedicated to encouraging students to enjoy reading and celebrating the wonderful author Dr. Seuss. I find reading one of my greatest pleasures and I hope to instill that same love for literature with my students. Here's my tribute to Dr. Seuss with a little poem that describes my love for teaching.

I Love My Job!
The Lost Dr Seuss Poem

I love my job, I love the pay!
I love it more and more each day.
I love my students, they are the best!
They are more unique than all the rest.

I love my classroom each corner and wall
It makes me happy to have things decorating my hall. I love my decorations, they are bright not grey,
And piles of paper that grow each day!

I think my job is really swell,
There's nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my peers,
I love them oh, they are such dears

I love the warm weather and outdoor recess
Of course I love it when I have no stress!
I love having no papers galore It is true my day is never a…

Day 4 of SOLSC

As I sit here waiting to pack up and go home, I think about how proud I am of my students this week. Today marked our last day of Reading State Assessments and I am so excited to say that there are a majority of our students from the whole 3rd grade who reached exceeding standards or exemplary. There are many days that I wonder if all my hard work teaching and all their hard work learning pays off. Sometimes it feels like I stretch myself as far as I possibly can and at the same time wonder if it's worth it. I can wholeheartedly say YES IT IS!!!!
Every day that I enter to see those fresh and curious faces, I feel drawn to make a difference. Many teachers say that's the reason that they chose the profession and I emphatically agree. Not to say that there aren't obstacles along the way, because there are many of those, but each obstacle brings about a new opportunity to learn. I was reassured today that I do make a difference and all my words that I repeat like a broken reco…

Day 3 of SOLSC

Living in Kansas during wintertime can be dreary and sometimes depressing. Winter still holds a firm grasp on us here and there have been many times in which I would just hope for a glimmer of sunshine and weather above freezing. Today was my day!! The weather was in the 40's and we had a sunshine filled day!!  In my 3rd grade class next week we will be introducing symbolism in literature and making inferences. As I watch the forecast for the next week, I see the temperatures rising into the 50's and I feel that that growth symbolizes new spring promises and hopes. The dazzling sun is a symbol of my students' bright futures as they move into the last couple months of the school year. The rising temperatures represent my expanding vision of hope in the future for my students success. Finally, the arrival of spring soon brings a promise of new and fresh thoughts, hopes and reflections.  My something wonderful for today is that as I inspect my world around me, I'm optimisti…

Day 2 of SOLSC

Have you ever been immersed into a new and unfamiliar culture and language? I never had an experience in which I have felt so out of place and lost and I'm not sure how I would handle not knowing any of the language in which I'm surrounded by. 
Last Wednesday, I had a new student from Haiti that joined my class and spoke only French. As a teacher with 5 other ELL students, I knew that this would be a challenge but all my other students had come into my class knowing at least some English. When I told my students, they all said, "We are so lucky Mrs. Sloan, we always get new students!" I must admit I was nervous about what I would do knowing that I don't speak any French!
So, I knew that he would feel afraid and uncomfortable for a while, especially coming from such a demolished area,  trying to grasp at what he could. What I didn't know is that in only 5 days, he is now saying greetings to classmates as well as asking partial questions about things that he wa…

Day 1 of SOLSC

As I have searched many times through the jungles of what is known as the internet, I found a website many months ago, called 2 Writing Teachers. I have always felt, as a person and a teacher, that writing is a way to truly express feelings, thoughts and a wonderful way to reflect upon life. I have taught for 9 years and have tried to impress upon my 8 and 9 year old students that writing about personal experiences and reading about others' experiences can present a new world of connections and relationships with the words on the paper as well as the people that write them. There are many ways to express oneself but writing has always been an outlet that I can depend on to tell the matter what. So, I have joined this challenge of writing each day about what I do, say and think to try to find my something wonderful for each day. I feel that my purpose in life is to connect and impact others and I emphatically believe that everyone should do something wonderful each and e…