Get Into the Groove… School Style, No Black Rubber Bracelets

setting up the space, with a new bookshelf and tables.

setting up the space, with a new bookshelf and tables.

Visited my second home today to start setting the tone. There is new lighting that requires movement, which I love. It’s like the classroom will punish us if we aren’t moving around enough.

First, the packages were carried to third floor, placed in a pile in the middle of the room. The walls bare, begged to for some new school clothes.

So many possibilities. Potential.

A new book shelf to house my new class library and a little reading area in the corner, was the first acquisition. (more…)

Can’t Believe Logan’s in 5th Grade

IMG_9839.JPGWe are one day away from Logan’s first day of 5th grade.

I can’t believe he’ll be 10 in just two short months and before I know it, he’ll be the same age as the students I teach.

For a long time, I have felt out of my depths with some of the challenges of divorce and having a smart, younger child who’s ability to manipulate is as well-honed as his reading and math skills.

But what amazes me now is the young man he is growing into. (more…)

Throw Back: The First Step To Give Up Grades Is …

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 1.23.35 PM.pngAgreeing that it’s time to do so.

And if you are ready to accept that that is what needs to be done in your learning space, then here are some practical ways to start.

Disclaimer: I am new to this and much of what I’m trying has been trial and error. It is messy and hasn’t been codified in any way yet for me. None of what I’m about to suggest is the only way to do this… as a matter of fact, I wholeheartedly encourage you to find a system that works for you and your unique learning community. (more…)

When to Say When With Homework

recite-24052--1449791322-bez2kg.pngMy son is in 4th grade.Currently he received about 45 minutes of homework a night including 20 minutes of required nightly reading that must be logged and signed by me.

Last year he routinely received 1 hour or more of homework a night. Although he didn’t seem to mind doing it, I resented the fact that he was sent home with worksheet after worksheet, robbed of precious playtime that was also robbed from his school day.

Ironically, my son didn’t mind doing the work because it was easy for him. He flew through math sheets that he clearly didn’t need practice in because he had already mastered the skills. Time after time, I’d ask myself, “why isn’t this differentiated?” My son has asked for more math homework in the past and is currently in mathletes which meets after school. (more…)

Let the planning begin, a new school year is peeking around the corner

First days are also big for the kids and this a picture of Logan's first day of 2nd grade last year. Off he went and I went to PD after he was safely inside

First days are also big for the kids and this a picture of Logan’s first day of 2nd grade last year. Off he went and I went to PD after he was safely inside

The dreams of lateness haven’t started yet and perhaps this will be the first year they don’t come at all.

As I approach my 14th year of teaching, I’m wondering if it will all be as different as my continuously evolving perspective about what education should be.

This time of year really is one of my favorites; who wouldn’t love the idea of endless possibilities and anticipation of new learning? Getting ready is really part of the excitement.

Rituals are the name of the game and as a teacher, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t something about routine that is very comforting to me. Excluding the chiming of the bells to signify when I should change classes, I miss school over the summer in spite of my effort to leave it all behind for a couple of months.

That being said…

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T-Minus Two Weeks and Counting

I learned about colleague circles at ECET2 this summer and I'm hoping to bring the idea to my school this year.

I learned about colleague circles at ECET2 this summer and I’m hoping to bring the idea to my school this year.

The 2015-16 school year is on the horizon and I couldn’t be more excited.

Many amazing opportunities have presented themselves since last year  and I’m eager to share all I’ve learned with my students AND with my colleagues whom I will be working with more closely.

For a long time I lobbied for the hybrid teaching position, really wanting to spread my wings and starting in September, I’ll have that opportunity.

Both intrigued and nervous by this move, I’m really happy to have the chance to help make my school community even better.

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Why it’s time to give up grades… a reminder

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 12.40.34 PM.pngFrustration.

It’s a sound. A feeling. It’s the color red.

It’s the best word to describe how I used to feel about having to grade piles of students’ writing or carefully crafted student projects. (I gave up on testing a long time ago, but that’s a topic for another post sometime in the future).

It isn’t the reading part that frustrates me or the feedback, it’s the unnecessary practice of having to quantify what their writing is worth in a language that doesn’t make sense.

How could I possibly put a number or letter value that starts to communicate with any kind of precision what the students know and can do?

(more…)