Saturday, June 28, 2014

Maniacal About Math

Hello again, all. If you read my latest update, you know that I am embarking on a brand new adventure as a teacher of fifth grade math and science. While I have truly loved being self-contained for the last two-and-a-half years, I am incredibly excited to teach my two favorite subjects exclusively! It will be a learning experience, as I have never taught multiple classes of students. I know that will come along with different management strategies and new organizational methods, but I am working to mentally prepare myself for all of that!

My current goal is to revolutionize the way I teach math. I spend a great deal of time scouring Pinterest boards and reading blog posts about teaching methods, and I know without a doubt that I need to incorporate a Math Workshop format this year. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that most of my math teaching experience has been whole-group. And it went well, truthfully. I was able to incorporate a good amount of group work and problem-based learning to supplement the whole-group presentation. But now, in hindsight, and after analyzing their test scores, I think that I could have grown them even more if I gave them small-group attention.

As I sit here on my couch in my new apartment on a rainy Saturday, I'm trying to wrap my head around how I want this to work. I will have my students for 110 minutes for Math & Science combined. I figure I want to spend about 75 of those minutes on Math. I'm expecting around 25 students to be in each class. This is the class time break-down I am mentally chewing on:

Math Warm-Up: 5 minutes
Mini-Lesson: 10-15 minutes
Rotations: 3 rotations at 15 minutes each
Whole Group Recap/Exit Ticket: 10 minutes

I am aiming to have 5 student groups, put together based on math skill level. Based on their need, I want to have them cycle between the following rotations:

Teacher Time: Fairly self-explanatory. This is when I will meet with students to discuss their math thinking, and to provide interventions/acceleration as needed. I'm working on learning more about how to ask good questions, because I think it is really important that I work on helping students to understand math concepts without straight-out explaining every little thing to them.

Skill: During this time, students will work on the skill at hand. I am looking at the math curriculum very closely and trying to come up with some challenging tasks that aren't simply "skill and drill." However, I'm not 100% against a practice worksheet, either. There's a time and place for both! (And that time is this rotation).

Hands-On: This is a station that each student will visit only once per week. At this station, I will have some sort of activity involving manipulatives. As I have never done a whole lot with math manipulatives, I might need some help coming up with ideas!

Calendar: I am an avid reader of the Teaching in Room 6 blog. Mrs. Moorman has some excellent Calendar Math resources that she describes in detail in these posts. I use her resources in my room, with a slightly different spin. GREAT way to reinforce skills.

Spiral Review: Like I said, I love some Teaching in Room 6! She also has some great Spiral Review sheets. I love keeping skills fresh, and I plan on incorporating these into my rotations.

In the schedule I have worked out so far, students with a weaker grasp of mathematical concepts will meet with me more frequently for Teacher Time, while other students will spend more time at the other stations.

If you have any ideas or suggestions from your experience, I'd love to hear from you! How do you teach math?

Monday, June 23, 2014

To Blog or Not To Blog...and a June Currently

When I began this blog, I had all sorts of great intentions. I wanted to blog about my ideas, my successes, my struggles, and my plans for the future. I wanted to build a community in the blog world. I wanted an outlet through which I could express all of my thoughts about this whirlwind of a life that is teaching. But unfortunately, life got in the way. As a first year teacher, I found that I truly needed to invest my energies on planning and teaching. And I did. And it was GREAT.

Now, at the end of my second full year of teaching, I am still as on fire for teaching as I ever was. Despite the nonsense that I sometimes find myself faced with...despite the political mumbo-jumbo and the red tape I often come across...despite working for the absolute lowest paying district in the state of North Carolina, and all of the negative things that come along with this. And this summer, I am actually filled with an unreal amount of excitement -- I, the world's original small-town, home-town, country girl, am moving! I am taking a leap of faith and moving to a town much, much larger than where I am from. I will still be teaching fifth grade, but only math and science. I am so very excited about this new adventure in my life!

What I am thinking is that, this summer, amidst all of the chaos and changes, I can rekindle my love of blogging. I hope to blog about my ideas and plans for this new adventure as a fifth grade math and science teacher. Hopefully, I can slow down every now and then enough to post!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is my first attempt to rejuvenate my blog. I leave you with my June Currently, thanks to Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

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:


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.


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.


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!


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. 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" the bottom will be the rest of my daily schedule once I have it.

This is my least favorite 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!


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!


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 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!