Friday, March 1, 2013

Those days that are actually fun

When I was in college I did what felt like a trillion internships.
My program was really good 
about getting us into as many classrooms as possible.
Sometimes we were required to teach a lesson or two.
Sometimes we were solely there to observe.
But each time we were gaining exposure, networking, 
and stealing learning new, great ideas. 

By Junior Year we were placed in a classroom part time 
and were able to begin forming a relationship with one teacher
and one set of students. 
I thought I had died and gone to Heaven. 
During this time we were responsible for teaching one to two mini-lessons a semester
based on what we had been learning in one of our methods classes.
These lessons were observed by either our cooperating teacher
or our supervisor and then were turned in for a grade.

Therefore, I made sure these lesson always rocked. 

I made sure to involve each and every student in a new and different way
engaging every type of learner
going above and beyond with the innovativeness (if that's even a word)
and creativity of each and every lesson I was observed on.
It wasn't that hard, considering it was one lesson out of an entire day. 

When I became a real teacher, I realized that planning 
the most creative and innovative lesson imaginable
for each and every lesson is freaking hard.
And really just not possible. 

{Disclaimer - this does not mean that not every lesson 
should be meaningful and engaging.
Obviously, those two are a given. 
It just means, not every lesson is going to be Pinterest-worthy.}

In college it was easy to spend an hour planning one Math lesson.
It was the only lesson I had to plan.
Now that I've got to plan one Math lesson for each day of the week
every week of the year, 
along with Language Arts, Guided Reading, Science, Social Studies, and Writing
spending an hour plus on each one is just not feasible.

Fortunately that's where my FABULOUS team comes in. 
We all plan together which is great because we can all share ideas,
focus on rocking one subject out and then sharing it with each other.

And occasionally,
those amazingly creative lessons come up
where you just want to brag about what you've been doing in your classroom.

{Disclaimer #2: I am all about being cutesy and fun with lessons in the classroom.
It's part of why I teach First Grade. 
However, I am not all about arts and crafts just the sake of arts and crafting.
I like for things to be aligned with specific standards
and I believe in utilizing every minute of every day for teaching and learning something valuable.
I'll admit, some days I achieve this more than others.}

Without further adieu....

Look What Rigorous and Meaningful Things We've Been Doing


We've been reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
The real, seventh grade level, Wizard of Oz. 
Well, we've been reading it out loud.
And our kids can't get enough of it.

Our whole Language Arts unit this quarter 
is focused around it and The Winds of Change 
based on our Common Core Bible

Seriously, this book has been the hugest help in planning this year.

We don't study weather anymore in First Grade (boo) 
which obviously would have been perfect for the Winds of Change,
but we do study Rocks and Soil and how weathering and erosion affect them.

In the Wizard of Oz we're focusing on the change in characters
from the beginning of the story to the end of the story.
We're also focusing on the change in mood throughout the story
and how certain music and video clips can effect the mood.
We're also talking about change in vocabulary 
and how using different words can change the perception of things.

Earlier this week, Dorothy melted the Wicked Witch.
And left a huge mess in our hallway.

Fortunately Mrs. Ruby (our magnificent janitor) was there to help us clean it up.

Some other fun resources that I've used and combined 
for the Wizard of Oz study can be found here and here and here.


Since it's Black History Month, we've been learning about famous Black Americans.
We've really tried to incorporate a variety of role models 
one. to show a variety of role models
and two. to kind of step away from the typical Ruby Bridges, Rosa Parks thing.
Not that they're not important, but there are a lot of others too.

Like Lebron James.

Okay, actually, I'll admit he was a bit of a stretch. 
I mean I know he's a bomb basketball player and all
but he's not quite MLK JR. status.

However, the kids really enjoyed learning about someone they knew
and could relate to (and who was still alive).
They also loved seeing him in his 6'8" glory and measuring themselves
to see how tall we were in comparison, which is what we did above.


I mentioned earlier that it was Read Across America week.
We lost the book competition. 
Darn you Mrs. Barnes.
But we had fun nonetheless.
And I had a blast dressing up like my most favorite animal for the day.

I had every intention of taking a picture all by myself,
but today was actually a no good, horrible, terrible day so that didn't quite happen.
Also, I'm aware my trunk looks inappropriate - that's all part of the fun! 

"I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. 
An elephant's faithful 100%."

Documenting classroom activities on le blog is tough
because I'm sure it puts half of you right to sleep
and it's hard to show you the real fun of it all
without showing you my sweet kiddos.

But every once in a while, a little taste of my teaching life won't hurt.
Plus also, Robbie's been super busy with school this week
and has not been the superior listener he typically is.
Usually, these crazy excited classroom recaps are given to him nightly.

Now, I'm off to enjoy my Friday night
as I'm sure every teacher does
in yoga pants with a glass bottle of wine.



  1. so awesome. Sometimes I think I would love teaching elementary school.

  2. I'm still in school for teaching (it's taking me forever), and I totally get what you mean about making sure that every lesson rocks. I'm glad to hear a teacher really say what I've been thinking... that the way we plan in school isn't the way a real teacher plans. It looks like you and your team have come up with some fabulous activities!

  3. I have taught school in two-year segments from middle school to high school, and finally in Freshman College English from 1984 to 1992, with two years in there when I took a middle school job because adjunct college teaching pays even less than public school teaching. At the time circumstances forced me to leave teaching, I was preparing to train for the third and fourth grades,since I had always enjoyed leading younger children in the "Free School" experiments of the 1970's, and my group of youngsters kept me taking them for activities for years after the program ended its two-summers run.My late son, Bill, who died tragically at age 54, just as he was retiring from thirty years of teaching middle school--and from futile resistance to "no child left behind," which he and other teachers called, "no child gets ahead," and "every teacher gets left behind," due to the increase in record-keeping and double-entry computer work cutting into time for creative planning and congenial classroom atmospheres that he had always maintained. I once heard that a good friend of mine, a super-teacher acknowledged by all, had confided to her friend on the way home from school in her car--overheard by her passenger, my youngest son--"Today was such a good day, I really know I am a teacher, now!" Still, still, after years of training and excellence in her field, finding little secure evidence to hold onto, that her work was validated in the wider world, or even in her heart and mind.