I've just got to share the good stuff I read.

I love to read. I read every chance I get. If I read something really good, I want to share it with my friends and co-workers. I make copies of magazine articles, read aloud to my students, tell others about good books I'm reading, and keep a book with me at all times.

I love teaching and learning new things. I need a place to share some of the lessons and what my students and I learn. Since my teaching situation is different from everyone else's in my school, I would like to tell all of you in the blog-o-sphere about these great lessons.

Feel free to share what you are reading, teaching and learning with us in the comments.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Robotics with older ELLs

Every year the fourth and fifth grade students are required to submit a science fair project for a grade.   I enjoy helping my ELLs with their projects. They learn so much and it helps them understand the steps in a science experiment. 

This year I helped them choose from several simple robotics experiments. The kits were bought for summer school and only used once. So they were like new to this group of students. 

We have two kits so I divided the students into two groups. I mixed boys and girls and English proficiency levels. 

They followed assembly directions on the laptop. One group skipped a step. Fortunately I tried out the program after school and found the problem. The next day I let them discover the problem and figure out how to fix the robot so it would work.

The best part of the experiment to me was when one of the girls made a real world connection to our work. She said the belts and gears were like a bicycle's chain and gears.

Go girl! Go dancing birds!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

cookies and gingerbread

Friday was Valentines Day. All the kids were excited about the parties and goodies that were scheduled for the afternoon. So they were predictably talkative and wiggly. Not my favorite teaching environment. What to do?

Thursday at the reading meeting my teacher daughter gave me a candy bouquet one of her students gave her. I decided to let my students choose a candy to eat as they worked on writing. Side note-that made for a quiet room.

There were also leftover cookies at the reading meeting. I took them but wasn't sure which group would get cookies. As the day went on I decided that the kindergartners were the best choice. They have lunch right before I get them, so it wouldn't spoil their appetites and it was before party time.

I had the kindergartners sit on the carpet and offered them cookies. I was going to read The Doorbell Rang but couldn't find it. So I read The Gingerbread Boy. It's about a cookie and gets eaten at the end.  Winning plan. They loved the cookies and got the main point of the story-cookies are made to be eaten!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Weekly review

The past week was busy as always. I'll just write about one part.

Thursday I took part in standard setting for a test that will measure beginning teachers' knowledge of the fundamentals of reading instruction. There were 18 educators in the group ranging from college of education professors to one first year teacher. We took a sample of the test and spent time deciding how difficult the items might be for preservice teachers.

Of course I had opinions and expressed them when given the opportunity. I have a problem with testing when one test decides the fate of someone. I feel the students should be able to pass the test if they have passed their courses. College professors should let students know if they are not good candidates before they have spent time and money in a field that doesn't fit their abilities.

I feel that all teachers should be really smart and capable of multitasking, kid-watching, reflective, curriculum experts. There is no way they can start teaching with all of those skills in place. No test can discover what kind of teacher a person will be.

In my own experience, I left the state because I didn't want to take the national teachers' exam. It was expensive and I was insulted that my degree from an accredited state school of education was not enough to fulfill the requirements for a teaching certificate. When I think back and remember the time  (1972) and what was going on in the schools in this state, I think I know why this test was a requirement. I may look into that one day.

I'm glad I got to be part of the standard setting even if I don't really like exams.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thinking about change

I am thinking about changing the title of this blog to something more specific to teaching and learning. It will still be about things I read and things I want to share but maybe also be about lessons that worked.

Like today I had a very successful lesson with the kindergartners. We have been reading/singing a book with lots of transportation words like car, bus, van, airplane. You get the idea.

Anyway I made a book for the kids to take home but they had to match the pictures to the correct page. The pictures had one or two words naming the objects. The book had the same words in alphabetical order.

The kids matched the words on the pictures to the same words in the book. And they did great. The first group was really catching on, saying things like, "Here is car." Some kids that I haven't seen really participate were understanding that the words matched.

Wish I had a photo of the finished book.