Where have I been??

For those of you who know me personally, you know my husband and I recently started house hunting and it has been quite frustrating for us and there have been a few things in life that have taken a back seat. (read: the lull in my blogging is because house hunting is a full-time job). I’m writing today because of an inspiring day at #EdCampWake yesterday. This was my first time and if you haven’t been to one, you should. #EdCampBeach is coming in April! Here’s what an EdCamp is:

I went to sessions on Genius Hour, Equity, PBL, Blogging, and #BookSnaps. Something inspiring happened at every session EVEN the lunch break (mentioned below)! So here I am back in the saddle! I can’t promise that I will get back to posting regularly like before because house hunting is NO FUN! But I have some ideas ready to write about and I will get those ideas and reflections out there! Today I’m looking at standard 6 to finish off the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards.

Standard 6: Teachers contribute to the academic success of students: the work reflects in  acceptable, measurable progress for students based on established performance expectations using appropriate data to demonstrate growth.

Woah! This is a big one. I think Bethany Gullion had it right yesterday at #EdCampWake. Teachers don’t like or agree with standardized testing and we don’t have to. The tests are not going away and we need to find a way  to use them to our advantage and help kids feel successful on them. My #oneword for assessments and the achievement gap #believe and #honesty. Ok that’s 2 but I think they are both important.

My class this year is competitive. First year I’ve had a group of kindergarteners so competitive. They love sports, speed tests, and scores. At recess they have races and “time” each other. (Note to self: get them a stopwatch. Counting is not standard measure of time). They are obsessed with winning and improving. I work daily to turn this passion of theirs into a growth mindset. I want them to look at progress over perfection, getting better over winning, and personal bests. We celebrate in my room when I collect data. Kinders love to celebrate even if they don’t know why they’re celebrating. If you’re excited, They’re excited. I try to be upfront with some of my struggling kinders too. Here’s a story:

One of my students struggles but does fine if I give him support. He is in the red (*gasp*) in all areas of mClass. I progress monitor him on PSF (Phonemic Segmentation Fluency – can he say all the sounds in a word). His middle of the year benchmark was 5 the benchmark goal is 20. Our first progress monitor was a 7.  Frist we celebrated his 2 point growth. Then, I told this sweet friend that we practice this every day during Letterland (phonics and phonemic awareness program) and asked him what he does during Letterland. His response, “I play with my friend beside me. I think about recess.” I love his honesty! I told him that if he wants to grow his score he needs to focus during Letterland, pay attention, and do and say all the things I ask during Letterland. He said, “Ok I will!” 10 days later I progress monitored again and his score was a 44. 44! All I did with him was be honest and use his data WITH him.

New year. New post.

It’s early January. Everyone has made their resolutions and is ready for a better 2017 than 2016. Kids are back to school and the Twitterverse is full of excited teachers and students trying innovative ideas. Being at a year round school and on track 4 I’m still on break until the end of January. While I enjoy my time off, I feel a little jealous that I’m missing all the excitement and eagerness to begin a fresh new year. 


My #oneword2017 is motivation. I started this blog a month ago and am very proud that I have kept the momentum thought the holidays. I plan to continue to motivate myself to reflect in this platform and in order to do that I need motivation. My motivation is always my students. I do whatever it takes to make school better for them and inspire learning. However this blog feels different, a little more selfish. Reflecting here helps me become better in my craft, better at what I do. Granted, I do it for them…. I still feel this is for me. 

I’ve been working my way through the NC Teacher Evaluation Standards and today I’ll be exploring…..

Standard 4 

Teachers facilitate learning for their students. – know the ways learning takes place and appropriate levels of intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development. Plan appropriate instruction. Use a variety of instructional methods. Integrate and use technology  in instruction. Help students develop critical thinking and problem solving. Help students work in teams and develop leadership qualities. Communicate effectively. Use a variety of methods to assess what students have learned. 

I know my students and I work hard to have relationships with each student. It’s important to me to take their individual interests into consideration when planning for their learning. I’m a big proponent for developmentally appropriate practices and doing right by kids. Knowing their developmental levels is important to consider while planning for learning. While considering developmental appropriateness, one must always think of the whole child. As an early childhood educator, I plan lessons around the whole child and take into consideration what 5-6 year olds need physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. I change the order from how the substandard is written because I think the intellectual part of a child is the obvious place to begin when planning instruction. You may have noticed that I have been using the term “planning for learning” in this post. This is a conscious decision- an important one. I plan for student learning not instruction. Planning for student learning takes the whole child into consideration and naturally differentiates for individual student needs and interests. Planning for instruction is for the teacher and what the teacher will do. Learning is about the student. And, let’s be honest, who is education for anyway? STUDENTS!! So, I plan for my students, what they need, and what they’re interested in. For example, as stated in my last post, we’re exploring geometry in math. Here’s how I plan for each of those areas: 

physically – we get up and move around a lot in my class. To some, my room probably looks chaotic.  When introducing 2D shapes, I had my students walk in the shape. 

Socially – we talk a lot in my class. It’s quite noisy on a regular basis. Yes, it’s a struggle to keep kids on topic. But, I’ve learned that the more opportunities they have to talk, the more they do what they are supposed to. When introducing shapes, I show an example and tell the name. Then, they turn and talk about what they notice. This also gives me good information as a preassessment.

Emotionally – this can be tricky to include in regular lessons. Kindergarteners have a lot of feelings and emotions and they don’t always understand them. #allthefeels For me it’s important to acknowledge these feelings and  help them label and communicate those feelings. During the above mentioned turn and talk, I noticed a friend sulking. This little friend was sad because they don’t know shapes. I sat beside her after introducing the next shape and pointed out things she can notice about the shape’s sides and vertices. She gained come confidence and was able to talk to a buddy about the next shape.

Intellectually- um… All of the above? Everything I do is rooted in my standards and what my students need to know to be successful. This one is big though. It’s important that I figure out what my students already know and differentiate from there. My friend from my story above, she needed some scaffolding so she knew what she needed to notice. Other friends new these things but needed new math terminology- vertices instead of corners, rhombus instead of diamond. Different kids need different things from me and I plan for each of them to learn.

Yikes! All of that and I only really talked about part of that standard. There’s so much involved in it. And I’ll get to e rest. You can see an example of my integration of technology in my last blog post: My knowledge of content knowledge

Here’s a tweet my principal shared of a lesson I did for an observation. Students built a scene from a favorite book with Legos and asked and answered questions about their brick build. 

How do you plan for learning?