Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of 2015! How awesome is that? Let me tell you, it's great! This is the time of year for us all to reflect, not just on our personal lives, but our professional lives as well. That's the hard part. Sometimes when I think of work, I just get overwhelmed. It doesn't have to be that way. 

I want to share with you some resolutions I have for my profession.
  1. I want to always be able to see the top of my desk and reading table.
  2. I hate grading work, so I want that to be easier.
  3. I want my kids to get feedback from me quicker.
There are a lot of "I wants" on that list. Now, how can all of this be achieved? 

Step 1: Out with the not used. 
I have cleared out all of the non-essentials off my desk. I did that before Winter Break.  
This thing was the FIRST thing to go! What a great idea it was when I made it. It's cute. I'll put all the papers in their the correct way. I'll clean it out regularly. Yeah.. that so happened. Plus all of the papers I need to grade won't fit in here. I've got two classes of 25 kids for two subjects at a time. I kept leaving old papers in there. I'd forget to put the papers in there. Nothing ever worked out correctly. 

I also had another one of these for my pens, pencils, erasers, markers, and all the other things that a good desk needs. I reached my hand in there one morning to get a pencil, and I cut my hand on a pair of scissors that I had thrown in there. Yep! It had to go as well. 

Now I can see the kids from my desk! Wow! It really looks different. Here's my new problem, now what do I do with all of this stuff?? 

Our district has begun to limit our copying to 300 pages a month. (That's not a lot when you think of all of the spelling lists, vocabulary lists, reading articles, newsletters, etc... that go home with my 50 kids.) I'm going to become more creative about how I assign my work. This kind of goes with number 2 and 3 also! (Love when that happens!)
  • For my students who have modified work, I will be checking out an iPad from our school library for them to use in my room. I've begun to use Handouts Pro! with them. I believe it's free for the first year that you sign up, which is a bonus. I scan a copy of their to do work, and assign it to them. They use the iPad to type on the sheet and send it back to me. 
  • Since I teach ELA, I found this awesome site for students to work on their grammar work. It's called NoRedInk. Students log in using a class code, they select things that interest them, then they check what is assigned to them. All the students have sentences that fit their interests. For instance, I'm a Harry Potter Nerd! So, the sentences that pop up in my assignments are Harry Potter related: Hagrid's new pet was a beautiful dragon. The teacher just tells the computer to have students work on one particular aspect of grammar, like apostrophes. Students get assistance on the way through models, and the assignments are graded instantly! I can just look them over and put them in the grade book! 
  • Remind is a teacher's best friend when it comes to contacting parents as a whole. You get a number just for them, and parents sign up to receive alerts. This company is so amazing that they have allowed for teachers to upload documents, images, and sounds as well. You can't contact parents individually, but guess how my newsletters are going to start going out? This way parent's can't really say, you never sent it home! Of course, I'll still send out paper ones, but they might be for two weeks at a time. 
  • Homework. I despise homework. I know that it's supposed to help students practice, but dealing with it the next morning. Tracking who has brought it and who hasn't. It's really a nightmare some times. This is the first year I've done this, and it's been absolutely a life saver. They get a homework choice sheet. The sheet I use is good for two weeks. It has 4 columns with 3-5 choices in each column. The column headers are Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Word Study. Students work on quick assignments that are generic enough to go with what we are teaching. They complete two assignments every night. My goal is to get their homework back to them within 2 days of completion. That's a tough goal, but I must succeed! They don't like it when they don't receive any work back or at least not as much work as their friend!
  That's part of my plan for now. To integrate these into my classroom more and more. Do you have any ideas? Comment below. 

Don't forget to download your New Years Eve Freebie from my TPT store. 

Until next time, keep it elementary!

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