Children's Books

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

#IMMOOC Chapter 1

I would not have thought of myself as an innovator. Before reading from The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, I thought innovation always included large scale change and technology. Couros defines innovation as, "a way of thinking that creates something new and better."

Couros also states that innovation begins with a question. After reading chapter 1, I am asking the following questions in my classroom.
  • What is best for this learner? This is a question we need to ask over and over as we make the endless decisions each day. Each learner is different. My decisions should meet the needs of each learner. What does this learner need? How can I best support this learner?
  • How does what my student is learning impact his/her future? It's so easy to get caught up in the here and now. I need to stop asking, "Is  my student progressing up to the next reading level?" How are the readers in my classroom going to use reading in their futures.
How do other educators use questions like these while developing the innovator's mindset?

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Reflecting on 25 Years

I have been in a reflective mood lately. Soon I will complete my twenty-fifth year as a school teacher. I think back to the young twenty-two year old I was my first year of teaching. My classroom management was terrible. I tried to do everything on my own. I always felt like I was drowning under a pile of papers to grade, and I felt like I was failing my students. I'm still thankful when I find out that students from my first year are gainfully employed, positive members of society even though their 8th grade math experiences were sub par. 

I have been blessed to work with administrators, colleagues, and students who have encouraged me and supported me through the years. It's a blessing to be in a position to learn and grow right along with my students and colleagues. Many things have changed, but many have stayed the same. Kids still want to be loved. Kids want to feel successful. 

Teaching Assignment
8th Grade Math- I had one class of below level math students, one pre-Algebra class, and three 8th grade math classes.
Teaching Assignment
Kdg-4th Grade Remedial Reading- 7 sections of small group reading intervention, push-in reading conferences in 4th grade, and 1 individual reading intervention.
Classroom Management
Assertive Discipline-
I developed the classroom behavior rules. Classroom rules and consequences progressions were posted. (This next part makes me cringe.) When a student misbehaved I would write their name on the chalkboard and add a check mark after each additional rule infraction.
Classroom Management
Positive Behavior Intervention Supports- We develop and practice the expectations. Students practice expectations. If students continue to have difficulty meeting behavior expectations we work privately to come up with behavioral goals.
Bonus Bucks & Candy Jar- I handed out Bonus Bucks for all sorts of reasons like homework completion, good classroom behavior, quiz grades, bringing extra tissue boxes, and having all classroom supplies.(Or you could just steal a bunch out of my bottom drawer when I wasn’t looking. Yes, that happened.) Kids could save their Bonus Bucks and spend them to buy Jolly Ranchers or other candy in my candy jar. This motivated some kids to do their job, and it motivated others to steal.
Prize Bucket, Notes Home, Phone Calls Home- I will admit, I use a prize bucket as a bribe to get the most important papers back to school. I also use it as a reward choice for students on individual behavior goals.
Overhead projector, television and VCR from the AV department, a classroom set of calculators, and I used an Apple IIe at home. I remember taking my overhead projector sheets home and washing off the marker in order to reuse the sheets again.
Tablet, laptops, Chromebooks, classroom Twitter account, interactive whiteboard, and desktop computers.
None. I was not on the same floor as my other teammates. I felt very alone.
I have a PLC with other reading interventionists in my building. I also have an extensive PLN through Twitter. My PLN allows me to collaborate with educators around the globe.
Get through the book.
Follow the curriculum to meet state and district standards.
Kids They wanted to be loved. They wanted to have friends. They wanted to feel successful.  
Kids They want to be loved. They want to have friends. They want to feel successful.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

It's Nice to be Remembered

Photo from
I'm reading Kids Deserve It!: Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking,  by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome, along with other educators at #OrEdChat. We read a few chapters each week and discuss them on Twitter each Sunday night 8:30 p.m.PST/10:30 p.m. CST. I really appreciate how the book brings me back to the real things that are important as a teacher. The most important things are those that bring my focus back to the kids. Kids deserve to be seen, and they want to be remembered.

  • Make positive phone calls home. Parents are entrusting me with their most precious commodity every day. Parents want to be part of the successes and celebrations that happen at school. I have made a goal to make positive parent phone calls home with my students. The parents I have spoken with are more than willing to take calls from school while they are at work.
  • Remember the little things.  When we have conversations with students, it's essential to be engaged and remember the little things. Ava has lots of baby dolls at home. Alexandria likes to cook with her grandma. Jonah's little brother is always getting into mischief at his house. Austin spent the weekend at his family's farm. The important things in their lives need to be important to me.
    Photo from 
I've been teaching at the same school for twenty-one years. Many kids and families have come and gone through Lincoln Elementary School during those twenty-one years. Last week I was walking through the hallway during Parent/Teacher Conferences and recognized a face from many years ago. I stopped and talked with the former parent and asked about her children. It was a short conversation, but what she said in closing really left an impact. She said, "It's nice to be remembered." Being remembered makes us feel valued. Remember families. Remember kids, because kids deserve it.