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Showing posts with label reflect. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reflect. Show all posts

5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers

Summer Vacation! 

Some of you have been on vacation for quite a while!

Others just barely started vacation.

Wherever you are in your vacation, it's well deserved, and I hope you're enjoying it!

But there are a few things to accomplish before the summer is over:

5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.





5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.
Once you've caught your breath, be sure to reflect on the past year. 

Think about your successes! What made them successes? What made them successes? What could make them even better? Will you try these next year?

Think about the things that didn't work this year. Why didn't they work? What could you have done to make them work? Will you try these next year?

What was the best part of the year?

5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.
You've worked hard and deserve to relax. Give yourself some down time where you don't have to think about anything!

One of my favorite ways to relax is to sit by a body of water and read, with my feet in the sand and a book in my hand! There are plenty of other ways to relax, too! What's your favorite?

5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.
It's quite possible that this can overlap with #2, but having fun is essential when you've spent the last 10 months dealing with a stressful job! Lunch with friends, dinner with the husband, or a water park with the family. Whatever is fun for you, it's the time to do it!

Be sure to include something that makes you laugh... it's healthy! A friend of mine refers to laughter is "Vitamin L!" 

Don't forget to take your Vitamin L!


Summer is really the only time of year I can escape into a book. During the school year, I'm reading books to improve my craft, or some other work related non-fiction. If I try to read for fun, I fall asleep!  It's time to escape into a book. I'd love to know about your favorite summer reads!


5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.

Yes, it's not too early to start thinking about the next school year. Maybe not too much yet, but start thinking about what you might expect this coming year. Since you already reflected about this year with #1, it won't be too much trouble to start thinking about the future. 


Enjoy these well deserved weeks! They'll be gone far too soon!

5 Summer "Must Dos" for Teachers: Here are five things that teachers should do in order to make the summer complete.

What's Your High and Low?


I have a little tradition in my classroom that I've been doing for years at the end of the day. It's called "High/ Low". (In some circles, it can be called "Rose and Thorn.") It's when we reflect on our day and decide what was the best part of the day and what was the most challenging part of our day. 

What's Your High and Low? This blog post is about a little tradition I've been doing at the end of the day in my classroom and it's always a big hit. It helps me learn about my students and build relationships with them.

I got the idea from an old romantic comedy starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer called The Story of Us.




 It was a cute movie about a married couple with two children who were struggling with their marriage. Every evening at dinner the family would share their high of the day and their low of the day. That got me thinking about ending the day in the classroom the same way. I tried it, and it worked out better than expected!

Sometimes people ask me why I let the kids focus on their low of the day... don't I want them to be positive? Well, yes, of course I want them to be positive, but sometimes they have something that is bugging them, and it makes them feel better to get it out. (Just like the rest of us!) Besides, it helps me know what's going on in the classroom. (And even though they don't mention names, I usually know exactly who they're talking about, and can address it privately later!)

In the beginning, there's usually plenty of modeling on my part. My high might be about a success the class had that day, "I was proud when the class got a good report from the art teacher," or "Everyone caught on to adding hundreds today!"  Sometimes, it's an individual success, "John turned 8 years old today," or "Mary has a brand new baby brother."

I'm particularly careful to model what a low would sound like, since I don't want this to be the focus, and I want them to know I care about them. It might sound something like this, "Fred was out sick today," or "Fran got hurt on the playground today," or maybe "Someone hurt George's feelings." More than anything, it's important to model positive feelings. This is when you learn about your students and build those important relationships.

High/ Low of the Day usually works best at the end of the day. However, it can be used in the morning for special events, such as High/ Low of the month, High/ Low of vacation, High/ Low of a holiday, High/ Low of a test, and so on!

Here's another blog post about how I do High/ Low by having the children hold a Beanie Baby when it's their turn, then tossing the Beanie to the next person: How to Have Them Happy When They Walk Out of the Classroom.

What's Your High and Low? This blog post is about a little tradition I've been doing at the end of the day in my classroom and it's always a big hit. It helps me learn about my students and build relationships with them.



Ten Ways I Have Grown as a Teacher from Blogging

This will be my tenth set of ten!

If you haven't been following my blog, I decided to celebrate my 100th blog post by making ten lists of ten.  I've written about lots of things lately including blogs that inspire me, great children's books, brain based learning strategies,  motivating students, picture prompts,  things for students to work on during reading groups, learning games, things to do with a list of 1,000 numbers, and test taking ideas and strategies.  I have to say, it's been an adventure and an inspiration.  I've had no problems coming up with ideas, and I'm feeling pretty good about these blog posts!  I hope you have liked them as well.

Being a reflective person, I decided I want my tenth set of ten to be a reflection on the blogging experience so far.  Here are my Ten Ways I Have Grown as a Teacher from Blogging!


1.  Blogging has reminded me of the need for teachers to share.  I've been lucky to become acquainted with lots of other teacher bloggers.  (Much of this is due to Charity Preston's Teaching Blog Traffic School, which has given me most of the inspiration and knowledge that I have about this blogging stuff!)  Chatting with other teachers and exchanging ideas and strategies makes teaching so much easier as well as so much more fun.  Within the blogging community, there are incredible teachers who are more than willing to share ideas.  It's always been my philosophy in teaching to share ideas with anyone who asks.  Unfortunately not all teachers feel this way, but I'm always honored when others like my ideas.  I'm also enthusiastic about helping ALL children learn, not just my own class.  I've never been in this for the personal glory, I'm in this for the kids.


2.  I've made teacher friends around the world, at many different grade levels.  As I mentioned, there are plenty of teacher bloggers in this teacher blog community.  Now although I've never met many of these people, I know a lot about them!  Between reading their blogs, and following their tweets, facebook pages, and Pinterest pages, I feel they are friends.  Yikes, that almost sounds like I'm a stalker!  I'm really just a person who enjoys getting to know people, especially teachers!  We share a common bond.  As a lover of social studies, when a place comes up in conversation or in a book, I can tell the kids... I know a teacher from ... and the kids are thrilled!  (Brain research teaches us the importance of making those connections!)

3.  I learn from teachers at completely different grade levels.  I come from a family of teachers, and I always find it interesting to see how much I have in common with my brother, who teaches at the college level, and my sister who teaches at the high school level.  In fact, I'm always amazed at how much I had in common with my Dad, who was a high school football coach!  The size of the student really doesn't matter that much.  Teachers are caring people and have many of the same strategies and concerns no matter how big the student is, or what they are teaching. Since I've been blogging, I do tend to visit mostly blogs of teachers who are in the primary years, like myself, but I visit a lot of other teacher blogs where the content is far from beginning readers and writers.  Yes, I even learn from physics teachers and algebra teachers!

4.  I've learned more computer tricks.  I certainly haven't mastered HTML yet, but I understand it better, and have become acquainted with lots of little tricks and websites since I've been blogging.  There are things I do regularly now that I never would have tried a couple of years ago.  I certainly have a long way to go, but I've really learned a lot, and plan to continue learning!  (The way technology keeps changing, continuing to learn really isn't an option anyway!)

5.  I'm more focused on how children learn.  One of the topics that always catches my attention is brain based learning.  I've found lots of wonderful resources on this topic, and I'm developing an understanding of how the brain works.  In fact, I like to think I'm becoming an expert on brain based learning.  (Although I admit, putting that in writing makes me nervous, as I also know how much more there is to learn, that even scientists don't know yet!)

6.  Putting myself in the place of the learner forces me to think about learning.  As a teacher, I know what it's like to want the learner to learn.  As a learner, I can remember the challenges, frustrations, and successes of the learning process.  Since blogging involves a lot of learning, it gives me a stronger connection with my students:  I know what it's like to be them!


7.  I've been making better materials for my own students.  I've always made things for my students.  Of course, all teachers do this.  But now I find myself making things with a little more care, thinking that there must be other teachers out there who could also use this.  I find myself thinking, how could I make this so that more levels could use it, or so that larger groups could participate, or how could a teacher differentiate for lower/ higher students.  So I make it a little more detailed, with a little more thought, and I put it up on Teachers Pay Teachers as a freebie for anyone who might be able to use it.  Then I find myself looking at other materials on the same topic, looking for ways to improve upon it even more!


8.  I have plenty of free teaching materials at my fingertips.  Sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers, Classroom Freebies, several Pinterest boards and several teacher blogs I visit (see The Cornerstone for Teachers) are constantly giving out freebies.  I'm always amazed by how many games and activities teachers make that practice and develop the same skills my kids are working toward.  There's a whole lot of great stuff out there, and most of it is free!  The more I explore teacher blogs, the more I know exactly where to find just what my kids need!  (If I can't find it, I'll make it, and share it with someone else!)

9.  I've learned about Whole Brain Teaching  With all my reading on how the brain works, I've discovered Whole Brain Teaching!  Visit their site, check out a few of their free videos and free materials, and see how they've taken research on the brain and put it into classrooms for optimum learning.  I'm totally hooked!  I even attend their weekly live Webinars every Tuesday at 8 pm!  (But they can be watched anytime!)  I use many of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques in my classroom, and I couldn't be happier.

10.  I do more reflecting on my own teaching.  I've always been a naturally reflective person, but now that I'm a teacher blogger, I am even more reflective.  My own experiences in the classroom are what inspires my blog posts.  As I go through the day, I'm always thinking... would this be interesting to blog about..?  Would other teachers benefit from reading a discussion on what happened in reading today..?  I'll bet other teachers would love to hear how my students reacted to this book...  and so on.  I'm constantly reflecting on how I can make my classroom the best it can be, and how I can share it with other teachers.

How has blogging or blog hopping affected your teaching?


How to Have Them Happy When They Walk Out of the Classroom

It's important to have the children leave happy for so many reasons. For one, you want them to feel good about school so they'll want to come back tomorrow. 

How to have them HAPPY when they walk out of the classroom. Of course we want them happy. Here are some ideas on how to do just that!


Maybe even more important, if they're feeling bad, that's how they're feeling when mom asks, "How did school go today?"  This can lead to bad feelings and/ or bad communication, which we just don't want to happen. 


I start my day on a high energy note (see my previous blog post:  How to Have Them Ready to Learn When They Walk Into the Classroom) I prefer for the kids to leave on a calm, reflective note.

I play soft music as the children are packing up. (They tend to have trouble focusing by the end of the day, and the music calms them down and helps them focus on their responsibilities.) When they are all packed up, we meet in a circle for "High Low". While they are waiting for the others, they reflect on their school day.

When most of the children are ready, I usually start "High Low". I pick up a beanie baby. (Whoever is holding the beanie is allowed to speak.) I tell the class my high of the day and my low of the day. It might sound like this: "My high of the day was how everyone enjoyed the story I read. My low of the day was that someone hurt Susie's feelings at recess." As the children decide their high/low, they raise their hands. I'll pick one child and toss the beanie to them. And so it continues.  

A few procedures I've followed during "High/ Low".  


  • No one can be raising their hand while someone is talking. 
  • Don't raise your hand until you've planned what you're going to say.  
  • Say the person's name BEFORE you toss the beanie.  
  • No one has to have a low, you can do two highs instead. If you want to participate, you have to have at least one high.  
  • No mentioning names if it's not good news, just say "someone". If it's good news, use names!  
  • Don't toss the beanie to the same person every day. 
Often people wonder why I even do a "low" for the day, why focus on the negative? Well, I've found that sometimes things bother the little ones and it's important to let it out.  As long as it's anonymous, letting it out is a good thing. I also find that when I tell my low, it gives the children an idea on how much I care about them. My lows usually have to do with someone who is absent or someone who got hurt. A lot of thought and "modeling" go into my "high/ low".


I do find the children love it, and it's a great motivation for them to finish packing up so they can participate. I also find it's a great way to learn what is important to the children. And, of course, sometimes I find out things I didn't know were going on in the social circles of my classroom. This is all valuable information for me!

How to have them HAPPY when they walk out of the classroom. Of course we want them happy. Here are some ideas on how to do just that!

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