I am extremely excited about the new school year! I spent a lot of time in my classroom and preparing new ideas for my upcoming students. My interactive bulletin boards are all over the room and I have finally gotten some clothespins to go with some of them. The stores were sold out and I suspect it is due to all of the teachers going back. Lori, my student teacher last year, brought several great ideas to my classroom and when she left I made a list of things I "must have" because I used them frequently. That list is all purchased and then some. To top it all off, I created a math bulletin board that will take the students through a spiral review everyday, without a worksheet, and we have a new math curriculum.
I brought home two tubs of math manipulatives, things for the students to play with and use during math. As a teacher, if it hasn't been provided, I make it or buy, usually make it, so it is nice to have new resources. Teaching math the last two years has been fun because our curriculum was so bad (all that I had was a thick textbook) that I made a lot of games to implement the math concepts. I never received a teacher's manual and that was probably just as well, since I like my own ideas better. While I was recovering, I starting exploring the new curriculum on-line and found that it is amazing. I didn't realize how amazing though. I unpacked a box called "Centers." This box contained 5 thick, spiral books full of games that correspond to each lesson. Each book is the same, so a pair of students or a group can work together and there are enough books for the class, working in groups. The best part about it: you put together 5 Ziploc baggies with certain supplies - they tell you what and they supply most of it - the students grab a baggie with supplies, and they are set for any game. I looked through the games and most of them seem really exciting. I was tempted to try some. I can use them each day in math, or a reward, or indoor recess - which we have a lot of in Colorado. There is also two of each game, an easier version and a more difficult, so I can differentiate with these games. This curriculum is a dream come true for a teacher that enjoys teaching math the nontraditional way, without a textbook. The students will have a textbook, but my goal is to only crack it a few times a month.
Something else that has me jumping for joy...science has changed in our district. They are now telling us particular concepts to teach and then assessing our students on this subject. I like this idea because science is tested on the CSAP for the first time in 5th grade, so a lot of the teaching fell on 5th grade teachers, playing catch up for 6 years of school. My first quarter concept is the "Human Body." Some people cringe when I tell them excitedly, but for me, being a runner, and interested in how all of that works, loves it. The students, in groups, will be assigned a system in the body, for example respiratory system. Then they will choose a science experiment to conduct, from a list, on that system. I have demonstration boards that they can use to present their experiment and findings when it is all done. We will learn every system in great detail, but then they will see how each system works together. It will also be related to plants and animals, how we are different or the same. I can't wait to start teaching science just writing about it.
This year the 4th grade teachers, the ELL (English Language Learners) teachers, and myself, thought it would be conducive to put the majority of the ELL students in my class. Since I majored in Spanish, I understand how to teach going back and forth. Not necessarily teaching in Spanish, so let me explain. In English, possessive nouns have an apostrophe before the s at the end. In Spanish, the word "de" is used to represent the apostrophe. So I have the students say "Sara's shoes" and then I have the ELL students say it in Spanish, "zapatos de Sara." If there is a "de" they use the apostrophe in English. Just one example. I can understand why students learning a second language make the mistakes they do, because I made the same mistakes when I was learning Spanish, and probably still do. I am also able to communicate with their parents. Their parents like this, as well as the school doesn't need to find a translator. I am thrilled to say I have 13 out of 22 ELL students right now, and ready to teach them. Usually, they are all very eager learners and work very hard to do their best.
My final thought: I won't be able to write as much when school starts, but I'll update as much as possible. Thanks for following along with me this summer!