My Spring Break Reflection

Spring Break has now come and gone.  As I walked into work (a bit early) I was greeted by this beautiful sunrise from the door of my classroom.  As I think back on this Spring Break I am feeling grateful, empowered, and excited: I am grateful to have had the time to take my Middle Generalist test toward National Board Certification.  Only a couple of weeks and I'll be able to start uploading my other components, it has been a very busy year. I am empowered by the movement that is building up in my state around education and providing more of a voice for public education.  I am excited for the learning to come this quarter.  Yes, we will be state testing, but I am excited to hear students' discussion of the the key events and effects on society as we learn out the 1800s in Social Studies. I can't wait to see what students' Women's History Research Projects look like. I am excited to run a simulation on Westward Expansion as students problem solve in wagon teams and …

Relationship Building and Student Names

I have had many students over my years of teaching and I have had some with similar names.  Some of my students have had unique or less common first or last names, regardless they are those students' names and my first job is to pronounce it correctly.  
If I am going to foster a relationship with a student, my goal from my first encounter with the student is I must get their name right.  Being a culturally responsive educator is one who values all aspects of that student and there is a lot in a name.  Over the years I have witnessed educators casually make mistakes with student names, the intention was not to hurt the child, but it can.  I am by no means an expert orator or a master of various languages to better pronounce words.  My students hear my mistakes but they also see my desire to ensure I say their name correctly because what I ask for is their feedback.  I don't want to take a mispronunciation and run with it for the year because a student wasn't asked for feedb…

Not surprising but...

I recently read an article about science engagement and the way students learn 

I am passionate about Science and Social Studies education.  Whether this instruction be at a pre-k to a high school level, students experience in the K-12 Science classroom matter.  Per the infographic below by the Amgen Foundation Teachers are a top influence if students choose a biology career.  Furthermore, students are asking for more engagement in their science classrooms.  

I work to provide a student focused and engaged science classroom through the use of the Engineering Design Process, Questions-Claims-Evidence, and problems that lend nicely to project/problem based learning.  To do any of these things you definitely need a strong classroom community and collaborative grouping can help students build their knowledge and science vocabulary with one another.  What do you do?

Infographic via Amgen Foundation via Education Week article, I saved this about a year ago and I forgot to save the link to the …

Getting back to the routine...

I am back to blogging, at least for the summer.  When I opened up my account it was amazing how many draft posts I have started, clearly I want to keep up but am just running out of time.  For those of you that read blogs regularly what post frequency do you prefer, every day, week, a few times a month?  

So before I get back to a routine, I feel like I should review what I have been up to and why I was so distracted from blogging this past school year.  Here are some of the key highlights:

- Still teaching 5th grade with an amazing team, being a PLC is just natural for us, we are always talking/planning/analyzing

- 27 students this year, small for what I have been used to in previous years, we built such a great community I miss them this summer

- I was able to add in more of the science and social studies lessons that I have connected to the ELA standards and plan to continue to do that this next year

- Served on my district's Science and Math Curriculum Committees

- I knew I taught a…

The Fat Cat Takes the Cake Review

For those of you that know me, I love to read.  I typically read a few books a week and I try to balance reading plenty of books I love with books for school.  I was so excited when I was able to receive a book in exchange for a book review, this has been a goal of mine for sometime. Below you will find my review and a picture with Abby reading the book. 

Fat Cat Takes the Cake by Janet Cantrell
After reading the first two books in the Fat Cat Mystery series by Janet Cantrell I was eager to read the third installment in the series.  Quincy, the tabby cat in this series, is known for walking off, exploring, and discovering a mystery in the making, specifically dead bodies.  Quincy also shares his thoughts in a sometimes first person, sometimes third person narrations in italics.  If you are like me and love animals, perhaps sometimes thinking about what they say, then you’ll love to read Quincy’s thoughts and actions. 
The book opens with Chase Oliver, co-owner of the Bar None dessert ba…

Are you a superhero?

I recently read the article "You Shouldn't Have to be a Superhero to Teach" by Andrew Carter.  Mr. Carter is a principal at a Junior High and the chair of a teacher training program.  I was captivated by the title of the article and it is definitely concise enough for anyone to read in just a few minutes, but as good writing will do, it will make you think for days after.  So I must ask the question, is Mr. Carter's thesis that one should not have to have superhuman qualities apply to today's educators?  Is this the environment those of us int he profession are expected to uphold?  Was that the impression you were given in your teacher prep programs?  Parents, I am the most curious to hear your thoughts on this...comment below. 

Photo from tes, 2016,

Solar System Curriculum

I have been fortunate enough to start working with some talented educators in my district on some new Science curriculum initiatives.  Fifth grade seriously has the best curriculum!  I am loving this group because it parallels well with my own development and work on creating new resources for my classroom (and yours!).  One of the units in 5th grade science is the Solar System.  I went through some files I had accumulated from student teaching and my first few years that were on these topics.  I was amazed how true this cartoon was:

I pretty much disposed of all the printed materials I had because they all had Pluto as the 9th planet and no mention of the dwarf planets.  It is remarkable to see the changes in science and I am so excited to see how quickly we need to update our curriculum resources as we learn more about our own planet, our solar system, and beyond.  What excites you about science?  Do you talk with your students about this?

Photo found online, if you know who to give c…