Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back To School Night

Well, it's that time again where I get to meet with a classroom full of parents eager to hear what I have to say about what their child is going to be learning in the first grade! This year I am prepared with examples and a agenda!

Here are some things on my to do list:
-discuss procedures
-weekly progress reports
-how to help their child read, yes folks I plan to do that in 10 minutes!
-how to help them with their math
-and assessments

Mostly, I just want to share how they can help their child develop the love of books! What can they do if their child is struggling? Those things will be addressed.
Back to School night, I hope will be a great success!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New Year

Wow, can you believe that we are back at school already? That summer just flew by, it was such an awesome summer too. My girls and I spent days at the pool, we went to Disney World as a family, we took small little day trips here and there...I was sad to see it all end!

Now I'm back, in my new room, at my old school, and I have 20 of the best pumpkins you have ever met. They are eager to learn, they make me smile, they say the cutest things! And I deserve it too! Last year I left my school of 10 years to go off and create change for myself, and after the first week I thought, "what have I done?"

The class I had last year was not a group of pleasers, they didn't make me smile, and they didn't say the cutest things. We struggled all year, I thought of them constantly. I wanted throw in the towel on most days because it was not a good year. They were all needy, they struggled to learn, and they struggled to be a community. It was just one of those years. After it was through I think I was in a state of depression, I was physically beat down (I spent a month on prednizone to boost my immune system) and emotionally I was a wreck!

This summer I healed. I read whatever I wanted, I wrote whenever I felt like it, and I marveled at my own girls. Their growth, their differences, they are fantastic girls! And this year, I walked in the door, I arranged my room and I remained skeptical. But, to my liking a group of children stepped through my doorway ready to learn and I am so ready to teach them. I have so much to share with them and my enthusiasm seems to be blossoming with each day.

Think of those teachers that are struggling with their students this year. It really does seep into your daily thoughts and actions. It is hard to go to school daily when you haven't gotten them off your mind all night. Caring, thoughtful teachers are out there and they have students who struggle to gel together as a community- my thoughts are with them this year.

I'm off to go pick up my bubbly little students from lunch. Wish me luck this year! I have a lot to share!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Giving in to Frustration

I haven't posted in a while... frustrating!
Last year I was invited to join a group of online book reviewers, and bloggers through Stenhouse Publishing. I joined wholeheartedly because I love to read and further myself professionally. I did pretty well for a time, reading and posting about what I was reading. I even joined the group to do some online discussing. Then, frustration took over. As I was reading, in the back of my mind I would be thinking, "this sounds wonderful, this would help my students tremendously, I can't wait to try this!"
But, also in my mind I heard, "This doesnt' follow my corporations curriculum, can I teach this and the curriculum with fidelity? (that's my corporations favorite word this year). Then why read? Oh, it's interesting, and I know it is well reseached, and would help my students tremendously with student achievement. But, it's not the basal, it's not what my corporation expects me to teach, with fidelity.
How do we as educators continue to press further? How do we swallow this educational "reform" and still want to teach? My biggest fear is that reform will be passed but at the end of it all it will not help children in any way become lifelong readers. I don't want to teach this way, I want to teach that books are so interesting that you can't put them down. I want them to know that I receive books from a publishing company to read so that I can make myself better, and because I love reading! I choose to be a reader, everyday! I want that to be my focus for children, and then if they have that love of books, the strategies, and the Venn diagrams, and the compare and contrast the characters, and the transperancies will make sense to them. I don't want to teach from a basal, I want to put real books into the hands of children who have never held the promise of a book.
Frustration took over, and it wilted me and my love for teaching, for a little while. Then I got back to my basics, I picked up books for enjoyment. I read, and read, and read. I discussed them with whoever would listen. They weren't the books from the publisher, they weren't books that I was forced to read, they were books that I wanted to read. I let them replenish me, take me away to places I had never been, and they taught me about myself as a reader. Things I wanted my students to discover about themselves.
Now I am ready, I have a whole stack of books to last me the summer. Ah, sweet summer! I'll be poolside with lots of books in hand, reading, blogging, and gathering myself for next year. I will still be met with "teaching the curriculum with fidelity." I will, but I am also going to sneak in some love of books. I'm going to make sure that frustration does not settle in and destroy my love for books, and teaching. I'll be ready, I just need the summer.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Through Their Eyes

You know as a teacher, this is the dreaded season... children are on some kind of holiday roller coaster ride and it travels right through my room for six hours a day! Late nights watching Christmas specials, family parties, holiday shopping at school, cookie making, sing alongs, and it goes on and on and on...Their behavior is wild, they chatter endlessly, and they are consumed about about "the big man!" AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHH!
In the last week I have been asked 22 times about my beliefs in Santa:
"Mrs. Amick, do you believe in Santa?"
My response is always the same, "I believe in anyone who brings me gifts!"
And so, instead of allowing myself to become grumpy about their misbehaviors I have decided to relish in their spirit. It is a magical time of year, we forget that as adults. We get so busy making sure we've purchased the perfect gift, and made the perfect food. We forget that Christmas is about spending time with family, friends, and traditions. The children love traditions, they love that every year when you put the tree up that you play music. They love to buy you that cheap "stuff" from the Holiday Shop at school. Christmas is love lived out loud to them!
Everyday I am witness to this... they share their family traditions, they sing carols spontaneously, consumed with their list, and always counting down the days. The magic is right in front of me, if I could bottle it I would. It is uplifting, spirited, and nostalgic. Little first graders addicted to Christmas, all day long.
And, as most of my colleagues are grumbling about the effects of Christmas upon their students I will remember that I am a very lucky individual...for I get to see Christmas through their eyes!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Making A List...

Recently, my mom asked me what I wanted to for Christmas. Actually she asked what my whole family wanted for Christmas, and today as I pondered that question here is what I came up with:
-A watch that has a velcro band and a timer.
-An iPod docking station.
-An iPod thingy that helps you play your iPod music through your car radio. Not sure what that is called.
-We're getting a Wii for Christmas and I would love that Mario Kart, that looks like fun!

Here is my teacher list:
-We need more markers, crayons, post-it notes.
-Biscuit books
-Mo Willems
-The new Skippyjonjones book
-some new books bins, ours are falling apart

What's on your list?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

It Was About Two Years Ago...

Today during my three miles of solitude I began thinking back to this very same time two years ago. Two years ago I began a rigorous weight loss program that lasted 12 weeks. I drank 980 calories a day, was monitored by a doctor weekly, and met with a support group. I lost 35 pounds during that 12 week period. What followed that 12 weeks was 5 weeks of life changing nutritionists meetings where we discussed how I could change my life and never return to that shell of a person. And, for two years, I have managed to keep the pounds off, because I made serious changes to my lifestyle. I decided that I was worth the hard work. I decided that if I was going to be a good wife, mother, and teacher, that I needed to take care of me first. Here is what I learned: (And here is my before and after pictures that I wrote about in another post! Yikes!)

I exercise 6 days a week. Mostly, I run, but there are a couple of days during the week where I walk briskly through my neighborhood. These are days when my old body needs to recuperate so that the following days I can beat it mercilessly with a run. And, I love to run!

I eat well. I eat daily roughly the same things, I'm okay with that, but I do allow some indulgences every once in a while. I just run more...but my diet is more balanced than it has ever been.

I drink water. 64 oz. is my minimum. I have always been a water drinker but I have certainly kicked it up a notch. I panic when I forget my water bottle. What will I do? Why? Because I know that at the end of the day I am going to feel miserable because I haven't hydrated enough. I am amazed at how well I feel now that I keep myself full of water.

On Thursday, while many people were still sleeping in on their day off of work, I got up at 6 a.m. and drove to a small town with about 300 other crazy folks and ran in a 5k race. After the race I went to my annual Thanksgiving feast, but after the eating my children and family went for a hike through the woods. Instead of sleeping off that turkey, we hiked it off. My life has certainly changed!

I have learned through it all that the strength was always there, it was just being pushed around by self-doubt. It was trying to break free from within, it was in there screaming, "I'm here, just call upon me!"

I have a necklace that I wear daily, it reads, "All the strength you need is already inside of you."

Now, I run, for life, for hope, for my health, and to push my inner strength. I ask it each and every day, "how strong are you?"

I am never satisfied, always wanting to take it one step further, to see it run faster...

It was about two years ago...that I found my STRENGTH.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Magic of Boxcar Children...

What is it about this book? My third grade teacher read this book to me, stopping at very important parts of the text for us to hang on the cliff until the next day. It's the same today, I stopped when it was time for music and I heard the groans from my children. "Awwww, we have to stop?"
Lester Laminack says, and I paraphrase here, that the read aloud should be like crack to children. Hanging on your every word students should leave the read aloud wanting more, getting just enough, but hungry for more...
I think that teachers underestimate the value of reading aloud to students. When children hear that rich language flow from an adult they soak it up like a sponge. Teachers must be aware, they must practice, and they must use those tried and true texts that they love. Children notice when you haven't read the text prior to the performance. They will notice when you don't "perform" well.
When do you use the read aloud in your classroom? When do your students get to settle in and fall in love with a text?
-In the morning, to open the day. This is a time to enjoy new books, or read books that you will study later, or when you are able to use a book to discuss procedures or how to treat one another nicely! The opening read aloud is so important!
-During interactive read aloud, this give students the opportunity to discuss, share, and express themselves. Discussions like these really give me insight as to how my students are understanding the comprehension strategies, but it allows them to think critically. Really higher level thinking occurs here.
-Chapter book read aloud- for first grade this is difficult because their attention spans are all at varying lengths. We start with very short books, like Junie B. Jones, Magic Treehouse, and Frog and Toad. Now, we are moving into lengthier texts, like Boxcar Children and Charlotte's Web. This book is to discuss, to retell, and to just lovvvveeee.
- Thematic Books- these are books that introduce topics in Science, Math, or Health. Children need a wide variety of different types of books when you are introducing a topic. Some children enjoy poetry about animals, nonfiction books that give information, and even fictional characters that teach us about topics.
Reading aloud is so important!