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Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts

The Best Thing We Can Do

Many schools are out for the rest of the school year.

Many teachers are worried about the "summer slide" being much greater than normal.

Because of the current situation, some children are learning online, some are practicing skills with "at home" packets, and some children aren't able to do any of this.

What can we do?
The Best Thing We Can Do: Our world is crazy right now! Many students will not return to school until the autumn.What can we do about that extra long summer slide?

Yes, there will be a big slide this year. Far bigger than the typical summer slide. But as teachers we know that we need to take our students from where they are, and bring them as far as we can bring them. Some students lose less than others. Some lose a lot. It happens. But we do the best we can.

There's not much we can do right now to prevent that slide, especially when we're not in the same room as the children.

But what can we do? 
 Brain research tells us that when children go for a long period of time without practicing skills, they won't remember what they've already learned. Therefore, we need to do a lot of review right now. Give them plenty of practice with the skills they have developed this year. But it's important to make it as fun as possible!

One of my favorite platforms for reviewing skills: Boom Learning! These digital task cards can be used on any device, and gives immediate feedback to the students. The teacher can see exactly what the students have been doing, and they can repeat each task over and over again for frequent review.

One of my favorite collections of Boom Learning Cards:

Here's a link to many more!

Here are some more review activities that are perfect for "end of year" or "summer review."

It's also important that children read frequently, and use their written skills often. I recommend a daily journal (with a gratitude element) and writing letters and emails to loved ones as well as friends. Board games and cooking experiences will give them math practice too!  Squeeze it in when you can, but in a fun way! 


The Best Thing We Can Do: Our world is crazy right now! Many students will not return to school until the autumn.What can we do about that extra long summer slide?

I'm sure you already know how crazy things are, and how many people are dealing with heavy duty anxiety right now. Children are scared. Parents are frustrated. Teachers are trying to learn a whole new job without training and are trying to make it work. It's definitely not a good time to push them academically. They are experiencing history, that's enough! Their brains are overloaded. Don't push, just review! (I'll bet your instincts were saying this, too!)
The Best Thing We Can Do: Our world is crazy right now! Many students will not return to school until the autumn.What can we do about that extra long summer slide?

This is probably the most important thing teachers and parents can do right now: let them know you care.

Elementary teachers know how much they are missed, and how reaching out to the little ones will make their day. Search for ways to make personal contact with each child. Email, call, drive by, or if your district allows, video conference. 

We know those personal connections are what really makes teaching work, and what makes online learning so tough.

But it's also what makes teaching worth it. 


Want to know something that might make you feel a little better? When this is all over, they'll be older. When they're older and emotionally ready to learn, they pick things up quickly. They'll be ok. They'll be more than ok!

Want more information? Here's an informational brochure for parents: Parent Communication Brochure: Social Distancing Edition


The Best Thing We Can Do: Our world is crazy right now! Many students will not return to school until the autumn.What can we do about that extra long summer slide?

A Proper Farewell

We have a lovely tradition on our last day of school.

Since our school is K - 5, we get ready to say goodbye to our fifth graders. Just before it's time to leave, all K - 4 students and teachers line the hallways.  We do collect quite a few parents as well.  When everyone is in place, the fifth grade teachers walk their students down the hall for the very last time.  We give them plenty of applause.  After all, they worked hard for their 6 years at our school, they deserve the applause.  Many are emotional.  They know this is a place where they were loved.  Who knows what will happen when they get to middle school?

After the fifth graders have made their final walk, all the other classes walk down the hallway for the final time of the year.  Everyone goes out to wave goodbye.  None of the buses leave until everyone is ready.  The children hang out the window waving, many are crying.  They are chanting all the naughty chants they know they shouldn't do, but can get away with on the last day.  Finally, the buses start to drive away, with the bus drivers beeping, the kids chanting, the teachers waving.  It's a little crazy, but it's definitely a happy/ sad/ sentimental time for us all!

I've been teaching in this school for 27 years now, and we've had our "Grade Five Send Off" for close to 20 of those years.  I can honestly say I haven't had one "Grade Five Send Off" where I wasn't in tears.

One nice thing about being a teacher in the lower grades is that you get to watch the kids grow up, even when they are no longer in your class. By the time they make that final walk down the hall, most of them are taller than I am, and have grown in many ways!  It's hard to say goodbye.

I also find it's hard to say goodbye to their families as well.  After all, by the end of 5th grade, I've known them for 4 years! If I've had siblings, I've known them longer than that!

I'm lucky to work where I work!

What's your last day of school like?

Reflecting Upon the Brain Workshop

I'm a naturally reflective person.  As a teacher, I reflect upon every lesson I teach, constantly thinking about how it could have gone better.  That's usually a good thing, but sometimes I make myself crazy thinking about things.  And I do tend to be hard on myself.  That's one of the harder things about being a perfectionist. 

I presented a workshop yesterday on Brain Based Learning to other teachers in my district. It was kind of a rushed day, since I was at DIBELS training at another school in the district earlier in the day. We got out with plenty of time, but I didn't want to get back too early since I din't want to interrupt the substitute. Since the workshop was due to start in my classroom at 3:30, I needed to be in my classroom by 3:10 to set up on time. Unfortunately, several kids are still there at that time, waiting for their bus, so I had no choice but to enter the classroom with all my workshop stuff. 


Of course, the kids that were left gave me a wonderful greeting.  (You'd think I hadn't seen them in years!) Then I needed to chat with the sub, who was also going to be there the next day while I went to the rest of the training. (I was glad about that, she's great!) Needless to say, I was barely ready when the other teachers arrived. 

It was a small group, just 5 teachers. Most of them I knew, and they were from all levels. I had snacks, water bottles, handouts, a selection of books about brain research, and, of course, several copies of my Elementary Matters business cards.


The presentation went very well. The other teachers liked the material (who wouldn't, it's fascinating stuff!) and particularly seemed to like my "Brain Jeopardy". (Based on THIS fascinating article!)


Of course, being a reflective person, there are a few things I'd do to make it better:

  1. I like to have music on when people enter. (I do this for my students often, too.) The kind of music that makes you feel good. Upbeat, with a bounce to it. I had planned to have one of my bouncy Christmas CDs on, but just didn't get to it.
  2. I had snacks, but didn't have anything to put the snacks in. I dug up some cups in the classroom, so they could put Cheese Its into plastic cups. Next time I'll have nice bowls or containers for the snacks, and napkins!
  3. As I do often in class, I had too much material, and didn't finish it all. Of course, it's such a wide topic, and there's so much I want to share. Next time, I'll just pick the most important parts and go into more detail. 
But, all in all, it went well. I got this email this afternoon:


This afternoon a HS teacher came into my office to tell me what an excellent workshop you ran yesterday. She wished more teachers (especially from the HS) had come. She used some of what she learned already today in her classes. Great job!

So, I guess I'm happy about that!
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