Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's start at the beginning...

From the Apple
This last week was our first week. I am so tired! I have been working 12-hour days. You would think after all these years, things would come easy to me, but honestly, I think Courtney breezed through her first week easier than I did! Having 13 students is just simply the best news of all. Although we are under the same "class size amendment" in our county, my school is bursting at the seams. The county has decided that it would simply cost too much to actually have us meet class size so they are going to pay the fine for our classes being overcrowded! We now have 21 in our first grade inclusion classroom and growing. I'm envious of your 13!

I think it is wonderful to have already met your parents. We had a good turn out at Orientation but unfortunately we have to have Open House on Thursdays and the Thursdays in September are Jewish holidays so our Open House is being pushed until October. I hate to wait so long but we have called all of the parents in the class to make sure that everything is going okay.

I can feel your testing stress. I don't know who decided that we should test the children to death instead of teaching, but I keep hoping that there will be a backlash and the pendulum will swing toward the center again. Certainly assessment is a good thing. After all you have to know where your students are in order to know where to go next but to test them to death just takes the joy out of school. We also don't follow the district adopted core series and like you, Courtney, we also have to take the county assessments. However, it is the end result that we really care about so the trick is not to get too caught up in the results of the mid assessments that are not aligned with what we are teaching but to know that in the end our students will come out ahead. In a way I think it's our opportunity to show the powers that be in our county that we can use a "thinking" curriculum where teachers use their ability to teach instead of trying to use a dummy-proofed core curriculum. It'll be interesting to see who actually comes out ahead!

Here's to a happy year for us both!

And the year Continues

From the Star
So last Friday was the day, the day that we found out that are school was no longer going to be a multi-age school due to the new straight grade standards. For the principal this was a shock and very upsetting because for 10 years this has been the way that she has made our school so successful. For the teachers on the other hand, they are very excited because for the last two weeks we have been trying to debate how on earth we would be able to teach straight grade standards while teaching multi-age. So to make a long story short I am now a third grade teacher and I love it. My students are truly amazing and the fact that I only have 13 students is such an opportunity. Just thinking about all of the instructional I am going to be able to spend with my students makes me smile.

We just had open house and all but one of my families showed up. I was very happy with the results and the parents seemed to be really happy to hear that we had changed to straight grades, especially since I have 3rd graders. The one thing that didn't surprise me was that out of the 12 parents that showed up all 12 signed up for a conference! - even though I told them that I would not have any data on their child from the assessments until the beginning of October due to my FAIR testing date being October 5th. However, I know that I will enjoy getting to know each family and their expectations. I was happy with how the open house turned out and I feel that the parents left happy. Can't ask for much more.

The last thing that I am going to leave you with today is about all this new testing. In my opinion my poor 3rd graders are going to be tested out by the time that the FCAT gets here. Not only do they have to take the FAIR tests 3 times a year but they also now have to take the Core K-12 tests for each subject each semester. I just hope that all of these tests don't have a negative effect on how the students test on the FCAT. That brings me to my last vent. Because we made AYP this year we are still not using and following the Treasures series. We are still using the Treasures series as a resource and an intervention and we have been told that we are not to use it as a sole curriculum. However, when these students take the District Core K-12 tests in reading they go along with the skills from the Treasures. So, how do we make sure that the students are on level and on task according to the state if we do not follow the Treasures series?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Here we go again!

From the Star...

So... I got through my first week of planning before the students came and now they are back!!! I am so excited!!! I just know that my class this year is going to be amazing and the team I am on has been so helpful already.

Last week on Wednesday we had our annual "meet the teacher" day and all but two of my parents showed up. I thought was super impressive considering only half of my parents showed up last year. Also, I had 9 parents sign up for volunteering which is amazing. All I can say is I'm really starting to like this third grade things. The parents are so hopeful. I wish I could keep these kids all year for all subjects. But, like every perfect dream, it has to change somewhere and that somewhere continues where it left off last year with the multi-aged reading and writing. As every one knows there are pros and cons to this configuration. It's just knowing when and how to use those pros to promote the most learning gains and successes for the students. Oh yes, you heard me correctly - learning gains! That is the word that stole the day with the Principal and the Assistant Principal on Thursday during our meeting because learning gains were the reason that we did not keep our "A" this year.

So... now that we know what we talked about all day on Thursday and yes, most of Friday too! finally after all the planning it was time for the first day back. All I can say is "WOW." I mean my kids are great- so polite and well mannered, and such great listeners. I know, I know - it's only the beginning of the year and those 5th graders haven't made it to the classroom yet to corrupt my little ones! HEHE!! Just kidding! It's just that the fifth graders have a very interesting way of influencing the third graders. For now I am super excited and ready to begin my journey. Who could have thought being in intermediate would actually be more enjoyable than stressful. Not to say that I didn't have a great year last year and a lot of fun, but this year has started off so much calmer and relaxing. As I have reflected on why I feel differently, I have decided that 1) I'm more experienced and prepared this year and actually have some clue of what I am doing and what to expect, 2) I have a 3rd grade homeroom and they have not got a chance to mingle with the 4th and 5th graders in their learning environments yet, or 3) I only have 14 students. How amazing is that? Well as always I will keep you informed and updated on my progress and learning as a teacher and with all of the new adventures that I am going to face as I continue my journey on understanding the intermediate world.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back to School

From the Star

So, for all of you who have not heard the news, I am back at school at the same Elementary School from last year where I am again teaching intermediate 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. If you are thinking "What?" in your head - That was the same thing that I was thinking when I heard the news. I had expected a primary classroom and even passed up a move to anew school because i thought I had been assured that it would happen... But, now that the initial shock is over and the new year has begun, I am super excited. Also, I am on a new team this year where there are five teachers in the POD and two of the teachers are new to my school this year. I can already tell that this team is going to be super organized which is awesome and they seem to be super helpful already. Of course the year has just begun but I already have a good feeling about this year. Probably the most exciting news is that I only have 14 students enrolled in my class!! It doesn't get much better than that. Just think about all of that time I'll have to work with the children individually and in small groups.

We started the year with a back to school meeting. Sadly, we are no longer an "A" school although we did make AYP. You can imagine how our meeting went. I'm sure that you can figure out most of the details. Data... Interventions... Where do we go from here? Well it may have been a depressing meeting but it sure did let us know where we need to be and what we need to do to get there. I would have to say that the faculty is pretty determined to make any changes to bring us back to that "A" next year. It's going to be a journey but I am ready to let it begin.

I have attached some pictures to give you a tour of my new classroom. I'm using an ocean theme again this year. Till next time....