Monday, December 30, 2013

Favorite 2013 Posts from the Blogosphere

I love using Evernote. I use it to store ideas and posts that I want to remember and use. What I discovered as I looked through the notes I made during 2013 - I save a lot of things and don't review those ideas. I rediscovered some ideas that I really want to try. 

As I looked through those ideas and thought about this past year, I chose some top posts that inspired (or will continue to inspire) me. 

Starting with the Answer (Matt B. Gomez) - Give kids the answer and ask them to come up with the story/question. This post echoed in my mind for a while. And it's the inspiration for our morning math routine.

Ten Ways to Deal with a Hard Year (Education Rethink) - Okay, technically this post was in 2012, but I have continued to reread it through 2013. John Spencer states some truths about hard years. My first year last year was challenging...and this year has had some challenges, too. John's post reminds me to look for the successes and to look for the learning.

Two Words the World Needs (Jon Acuff) - This post is no longer active. Jon has moved and his old posts have disappeared. (One reason I love Evernote. I copied the post into my notes and can still read it offline even though it's gone online.) Jon wrote: "The world has a lot of stuff. It does. .... But there is one thing that the world is lacking. One thing it is desperate for. More you." This post challenged me to think about what my class really needs - it needs for me to bring my own unique perspective and talents to help my kids learn.

How a Second Grader Got Me to Stop Teaching and Start Listening (Elementary Math Maniac) - I'd recommend this post just for you to see how a second grader is thinking about addition. But this post also challenges me to remember that my students are thinking and building understanding in different ways. Sometimes I need to guide it and sometimes I need to listen and understand it.

Using Twitter in the Primary Classroom (Learning and Sharing with Ms. Lirenman) - This post is inspiring and I wanted to start using Twitter in my classroom this year. I tried and ran into connection problems. Then I moved schools and was confronted with starting over - so I haven't accomplished this goal. But I still want to do it and this post continues to remind me why.

25 Clever Classroom Tips for Elementary School Teachers (Buzzfeed) - I love quick ideas, especially reuse or repurpose ideas. These are some fun ones. (I use binder clips to label my student mailboxes and Angry Bird beanbags go on desks when students leave the room.)

As I read through all those notes, I discovered these top ideas from 2013 that I want to try--

Got any great links to share with me?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Listen: Reflecting on My One Word for 2013

Listen (Brick by Brick)
This year my focus has been on the word LISTEN. I've been listening to those around me, to God, to my own thoughts - all to help me be more effective as a teacher and as a person.

What have I learned?

1. Listening is hard...well, intentional listening is hard.

2. It's easy to discount what you hear. Or to pay attention to what reinforces your opinions and discount what challenges them.

3. I'm doing okay. Yes, I make mistakes. Yes, I need to improve. But I am doing things right. I am growing and progressing as a teacher. I need to pay attention to those successes.

4. Listening to too many voices can be paralyzing. When I try to listen and respond to what I read online and to what colleagues say and do and to my own ideas and to what my kids are saying and what I'm learning in my university class - well, I can just decide that it's too hard to do anything. I need to filter and focus on a couple of things to change or adjust and file the rest away.

5. I don't listen enough sometimes. I need to continue to make an intentional choice to be open and ready to hear. I need to continue to reflect. I need to be open to change. I do not want to get locked into the "right" way and not adjust in response to what I hear.

This was a great word for my focus this year. I've learned a lot and will continue to process what I've heard. I will continue to listen in the year to come.

Now it's time to choose one word for 2014. I'm still thinking about it and will post about my next word soon.  UPDATE: I chose a word for 2014.

Related 2013 posts:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas! On Friday, the last day before our break, I discovered this gift.

Mrs. Wiley came to help with our party.

Sometime during our party on Thursday, a student slipped behind the screen and wrote this on the board. I raised the screen on Friday and "unwrapped" this gift. I think I know who the giver is...and couldn't be more pleased with any other gift.

This time of year is a time of joy and hope for me as we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus.

And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David, to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough--because there was no room for them at the inn.

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Don't be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all people: today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough."

Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!"

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.

(from Luke 2:4-16)

I pray peace and hope to you and your families. And rest...lots of rest.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Name That Number

"Now it's time to play...."

"Name that number!!"

My kids excitedly responded and clapped, ready to play our game again. I introduced this game a few weeks ago.

We've been working on place value and recognizing numbers in various forms. I created a PowerPoint presentation that has numbers in various forms; students must name the number. Then I advance the slide to show the answer.

In the past, I've called on individual students to answer or asked students to tell a partner before revealing the answer.

This week the kids all had pieces of paper. They wrote down their answer and then...drum rollllllll...the answer appeared so they could check. Cheers all around!

My kids really love this game. It was a quick game one day that has evolved into a favorite activity.

I can quickly change the digits or drawings to make a new version of the game. We run through it as practice or when I need a quick filler.

In the beginning of the year, we practiced our subitizing with some presentations that I had been given. I think I'm going to incorporate those diagrams and others to continue practicing numbers.

I think I'm going to incorporate some money concepts and addition/subtraction practice in our name that  number game to practice our skills.

I love it when something quick and easy becomes a fun way to build skills.