Saturday, January 19, 2013

She's Baaaaaack.

Holla, fellow bloggers! Last year's "fumbling" fifth grade teacher is back and better than ever. Here is a quick update of the life that I have been living since my last frantic, heartwrenchingly-stressed posts.

I am halfway through this school year with the first ever class that was mine from day one. I cannot even put into words what a blessing this school year has been. I love every single day at school and, even though I have some students that push me, I finally feel like I have arrived in the career that I was meant to be in. I am thankful for the struggles of my first few months, as they have shown me how apathy and a lack of innovation affect the behavior of young adolescents.

Here are a few highlights of my school year so far:

-SCIENCE. 

I have realized that I love teaching science, and I love how excited my students get during science class. We have learned so much about predicting weather, the water cycle, global weather patterns, physical and chemical changes in matter, friction, gravity, and SO SO much more. My kids always beg for science to come earlier in the day, and it makes my heart so happy.

-FUNDRAISING. 

I somehow managed to take on a coat drive benefitting Hurricane Sandy victims in Queens. It was one of my student's ideas, and I ran with it. It was a huge undertaking, but we ended up collecting 152 coats (along with some various other winter wear items). Getting the stuff shipped was a hassle, but I am so proud of my students for their giving hearts. And, not gonna lie; I'm proud of myself for actually making it happen.

-AWARDS. 

Y'all, this is big. One of my students nominated me for a local news stations "Teacher of the Week" award. Never did I ever expect THAT in my first year of teaching. I will be interviewed live on the news in March, and will be receiving $100 to use in my classroom. Again, just another one of those moments that made my heart smile. It does that a lot here lately. Here is a link to check out some of the other recipients this year. I will be up there soon!

-SINGING. 

I am the absolute worst singer in the world, but to my students, I am a rockstar. It is one of our favorite things to do. I have my students writing raps and songs about content topics. We also love just singing ones that other creative minds have thought up. Our favorite is Mr. Parr on YouTube, with some excellent science songs set to modern songs that kids love. Check him out!




In addition to this, my biggest accomplishments are the everyday interactions with my students. The letters they write me telling me how much they love me and appreciate me. The hugs I get every morning. Being told I am the best teacher a child has had. Having a parent thank me because her child doesn't cry before going to school this year. Helping a student earn her first ever 100 on a math test. Overhearing a child tell one of his friends in another class that "Mannnnn, Ms. Evans might be annoying, but she's on my side." Getting at least one King-Sized Kit Kat Bar every week, because my kids know they're my favorite. Seeings smiles on their faces throughout the day, and having them tell me, "Wow, today flew by!"

Bottom line? I love my job. Teaching is the profession where my mind, body, and soul thrive. I feel so honored to do what I do, and I truly wish everyone could find this happiness. My most frequent prayer is that I never forget the way I feel right now about my career. That I never become jaded and pessimistic and apathetic. That children always feel the fire I have inside, and that they never question my dedication to making sure they learn. I love my job. I hope I always do.

Anyways, now that my mind is less riddled with frets of exhaustion and stress, I am aiming to be a more active blogger. If only for my own posterity. I am hoping to update with my lesson ideas, and to become more a part of the blogging community. Here goes.

xox Hannah

Friday, August 10, 2012

Classroom Pictures!

Alright, y'all. I am on the ball. I have been in my classroom all week and I love what I have done with the place so much that I simply have to share with the blog world.

This...is my room! (Minus curtains...they are a work in progress at the moment.)



I am most proud of my chair covers with pockets...I learned to work a sewing machine and made these puppies myself!



This is my small little reading cubby. I have another bookcase, but this revolving bookcase will be used to showcase themes/authors throughout the school year.



My front  "time" board...at the bottom will be the rest of my daily schedule once I have it.




This is my least favorite part...my teacher area. Just blah. There's just so much STUFF! I am looking for some cute (yet cheap) bins to swap out with the ugly ones on top of the shelves. Then it will perk up!


This is my room! All I need now are my 24 fifth graders!

Hannah

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Looooong Siesta, but I'M BAAAAAACK...with a Currently

Hello, followers. That is, if you haven't completely given up hope of me and my witty banter reappearing in the blog world. I got caught up in end of the year finangling and personal drama, but I am back, invigorated and ready to start my first FULL year of teaching! Lots of changes, lots of ideas, and not enough money, time, or magic to make them all a reality! Nevertheless, I've been extremely busy getting things done in/for my new classroom and I can't WAIT to put it all together on Tuesday. Maybe I'll be a good little blogger and post pictures of my success...because believe me, this room is going to be pure magic. I can just feel it. Until I get the chance to post "Big Picture" pictures, here's something to whet your whistle! ;)

My chair cover with pocket...I have pink and green pockets.

My precious "Where Are You" sign to keep up with students throughout the day.

Shows promise, huh??

Anywho, here's my Currently!




Saturday, May 19, 2012

Traumatized by the EOGs

Sorry for the lack of a post lately. The truth is, I have been drowning in EOGs and test score reports. I am over-stressed and becoming kind of jaded, and I hate that. But I guess this is part of my journey. I'm learning about failure. And I'm learning to hate failure. I hate that these students are experiencing this failure. It's not their faults they didn't have a teacher half the year. It's not my fault either. But I still feel totally responsible for these hideous test scores. My heart is ripping for my students and my school. These are MY students. This is MY class. Regardless of how long I have been here. I am so emotional about the whole thing, and I am really having a hard time moving past my emotions.

However, I do have some remediation time. And I suppose I need to buckle down and work hard these next 5 days with my students to get them ready for the retest. But I have to wonder...when do I actually get to teach these students actual content? I feel like all I have taught for the past 2 months is survival strategies for standardized tests. This is not my passion, but it has been my reality.

I am sorry if my "Debbie Downer" post is bumming you. I am generally an upbeat, positive, can-do person. But testing does this to people. It makes them crazy. It gets their nerves all out of whack. I fell victim to the test. But I tell you this, and I do mean this, it will NOT get me next year.

I'm making a plan...

Next year, I am going to really teach my students. I'm not just doing isolated activities that don't link together for whole-learning. No, I am going to plan and strategize and work my curriculum this summer so that I am a lean, mean, teaching machine next year. I am working on outlining a Reader's Workshop strategy that will work for me. I want to re-vamp my method of teaching small-group math lessons. I want to dedicate myself to including lots of hands-on, experience-based learning activities in social studies and science. I'm not quite sure how I will do all this right now, but I do know that the students at my school deserve it. I am a woman on a mission and I swear, to every blogger and random stumbler that runs across this post, I will "grow" my students next year.

I can't make up for the disservice that was done to my 24 kids this year. It breaks my heart and causes me a lot of worry for them in their futures. I wish I could have been here all year for them so that, regardless of the EOG test scores, I would have known with confidence that they were at least taught what they were supposed to be taught. And that would have made me feel better.


Please think of me for the next 2 weeks as I remediate and re-test. It is going to be hard on me, and especially hard for my kids. And as always, if there is anyone out there with words of infinite wisdom to share with me...share freely!

-H.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Almost There!!!

I'm still hanging in there! These past 3 months have been an absolute whirlwind! However, despite all the nerves and tears and celebrations, I have almost got my students to the wonderful (sike) EOG test season! If prayer alone could get us there...my class would be good to go! Not the case though. So as it is, this little teacher is working her tushy off to get them all ready. Not an easy task! I am finding myself staying after school to tutor specific groups 3-4 times a week. During resource, during lunch, before and after school, I am working it. Is it working? Sure hope so.

This is what I want to know from you all...We put so much emphasis on "the test" and practicing for the test. I'm dying of boredom and I know my kids are too. So many practice testlets and sample questions are thrown at me (and them), and I feel like I'm drowning!! How do I make it fun, yet still effective? I'm doing hardcore review on geometric concepts (interior angles, complementary/supplementary angles, classifying polygons, etc.) and general reading comprehension and testing strategies. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks blogging friends!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3 Praise Reports and 2 Complaints...Fair Balance?!

So, after my lengthy lapse in blog involvement, I am back! A little older, a little wiser, and a few less days on my potential life expectancy. Here's what's new:

Since my last installment, I have taken my class on a field trip. I was so nervous! Me + 24 11-year-olds + my mom as my chaperone....terrifying! Well, good news. We survived and we had a blast! We visited the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC. It was a bit young for my kids, but we enjoyed the workshop on Simple Machines and an IMAX movie about Forces of Nature. Here's a link to go check them out!

Also, second praise report. SPRING BREAK. It was wonderful. I spent a lot of time on the couch and in the sun. 'Nuff said.

Third praise report. I did a really cool interdisciplinary project linking Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and our science unit on Simple Machines. My students were given the challenge to create a new "crazy" food product idea, design a machine on which they would produce their product, and then write a persuasive advertisement to sell their product. Their complex machines had to feature at least 4 simple machines. Surprisingly, my kids really took off with this project. I got some of the CUTEST submissions! If anyone is interested in my project packet (I am not sure how to post it here), email me and I will be glad to send it to you for your use. My email is evansh1001@gmail.com.

Now, for the downside. The uh oh. The words from the ne'er-do-well. The whining. The complaint.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNN.

Okay. Well my issue is debilitating. We are 22 days from our EOG assessments and, lo and behold, my class is not ready. I know they're not. And since I have only been their teacher since February, I know it's not totally due to my inability to adequately teach. But I can't point fingers, because it doesn't do me or my class any good. So I'm scrambling at the last minute to teach main concepts, especially in math. But at this point...what strategies work? Intense test prep is dreadfully boring...any tips?!

Also, another complaint. Behavior! My gosh! I am dying with how disrespectful 5 of my male students are. One of them told me today that I was "ratchet," while another thought it was funny to stick his pencil in the electric pencil sharpener everytime I began to speak, even when I asked him not to and had already sent him to the office for being noncompliant. I'm literally drowning and at a loss.


Anywho, I've unloaded my update and I have relieved some of my stress. My team teacher went to the E.R. yesterday with chest pain and body numbness, and they told her it was due to stress. I don't want to end up like her, so I am trying to be proactive and healthy.

Hope you are all well! God Bless you as you enter the end of school year fun!

-Hannah

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Graphing Activity with Jellybeans!

So, I'm trying to be a fun teacher this week, since it's Spirit Week AND the week before the glorious SPRING BREAK. Therefore, I thought...what the heck? Let's have some fun. I have a fun week planned in our literature study of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and our math topic this week is graphing and analyzing data. I stumbled across a cute idea for little kids involving jellybeans and I have tweaked it a bit to accommodate my big kids. I can't find the original link that caused my inspiration, but if you know who/where to find it let me know so I can give credit where credit is due!

We are studying frequency tables, line plots, bar graphs, picture graphs, line graphs, stem-and-leaf plots, and circle graphs. We are also working on calculating mean, median, and mode. For kids, I think this is one of the easier concepts because they have seen it in so many years prior to fifth grade.

I have made some cute little reproducibles to go along with my lesson I'll be teaching tomorrow. Not sure if anyone would be interested, but I'm linking to them anyways! Click here to check them out! You may have to download the original document to see it with the cute fonts!

Anywho, I'm off to work on some last minute test-prep station activities. I'm trying to get a routine established for that, since so much of my day is spent reviewing for the EOG! Does anyone have some great test-prep ideas to share? Let me hear 'em!

-Til next time!

Hannah