Sunday, September 15, 2013

I Am...

slightly overwhelmed.

Transitioning to a new school has been way harder than I thought it would be. The most difficult part being the confusion and learning curve that comes with any new adventure. I've now been working here almost two months and despite an amazing staff, who is always ready to help me, there are still so many things I just don't know. As a result, the OCD perfectionist side of me is going a little crazy.

I'm used to being so organized and so ahead of every step. Yet for some reason, no matter how hard I attack that "to do" list, its never getting any shorter. I guess that's typical for any teacher though. However, I hope I can knock some of those bigger items off soon. I'll keep you all posted.

Anyways... I wanted to give you just a sneak peek into my plan for the year. As someone who loves organization,  was trained to backwards plan, and luckily has a partner teacher who loves to do so as well, I already have a rough idea of how I'm going to attempt this whole modified expedition at a blended learning school.

This year we're going to create a blended expedition or blended style project titled "Who are we?" As a class we're going to think about that question throughout our learning.
We're going to explore...
who we are as Catholics...
who we are as Americans...
and who we are as members of our families and our community.
We're going to look at our heritage, our history, our influence on both society and the environment, as well as the role we play as students at our school.

It's going to be a study where, we look at how we use what we know and what we learn to understand who we are. I'm hoping its awesome.

To kick off the study and overall expedition... we began looking at who our students think they are now.

We looked at famous self portraits by different artists, including Frida Kala's "Self Portrait with Monkey" and Van Gogh's self portraits. We discussed symmetry and how artists often draw through the use of symmetry. They learned how to draw themselves as cartoons and created their own self portrait.

We then discussed how one can also share who they are through more than just pictures, but the use of words. We described ourself in detail through the writing, "I am" poems. Its amazing what insight they provide into the minds of who these kids think they are. I posted two, although I changed their names and just kept their words.

Our next step is to work on learning about where specifically in the world we live and how it relates to the rest of the world geographically. Then we're going to create timelines of our lives and discuss becoming members of the church through baptism. I'll post more soon.

Until then check back later this week for a post on our field trip to an apple farm! I can't wait to pick apples and make applesauce with the kids. It's going to be great! :) 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A New Page: My Second Graders

As part of the Blended Learning Initiative at my new school, me and my amazing partner teacher, Lisa, are teaching our Second Graders about technology through the creation of a class blog. Students are writing and planning the posts that we update on a weekly basis about our classroom. They write about things that they're learning or projects they're working on. It's an amazing way to document what we've done throughout the year, and increase the communication channel with parents. It also acts an effective way to utilize technology in an effort to teach students how to ethically and responsibly approach technology and the internet.

Some of the topics we are using the blog to teach about are....
  • Online protection, and privacy (never posting pictures of faces, or using real names)
  • The importance of making sure one thinks, and rationally evaluates before sending email, posting on Facebook or using any other mode of technology
  • Cyber bullying (how not to act towards others)
  • How to use technology to research for legitimate resources. 
  • How to plan out writing, and edit it before making it public
  • and many others.
Anyways, the blog is officially updated and students have begun to post. Below is a picture of the main page. The link is in the bar above, as well as below the picture. Please enjoy the new second grade blog! Let me know what you think.

This year...

As part of my switch to California and to a new school, I also switched to a brand new model of instuction. I no longer am an Expeditionary Learning teacher but rather a Blended Learning one. Both styles of education encourage their teachers to use research based and effective techniques on a daily basis. They also contain similar components of a project based learning style, however, they direct their attention and focus to a different emphasis.

Expeditionary Learning strives towards student understanding of the learning process, and the use of high quality work on products that span both subjects, and standards. It also looks at reason and motive behind learning, engaging students in its aim to produce work for an audience.

Whereas Blended Learning combines projects and learning with the integration of technology, attempting to meet the needs of each and every student, while also encouraging them to open their eyes and minds to the 21st century. Accommodating, and adapting apps on iPads and or laptops aid in instruction, practice and assessment at the click of a button. They increase the ease of differentiation, so as to help teachers best meet the needs, levels and interests of each student in class. While also acting as way to engage and encourage students to think, wonder and explore the world around them while working on different technology infused projects.

Both models are amazing and so well researched. I have already seen their effectiveness and the deepening of learning and understanding that they create in both a classroom and school community. I feel so blessed and excited to have had the opportunity to receive some training on both. And although I'm just beginning to skim the surface with Blended Learning, I can't wait to see how it improves my style and overall effectiveness as well.

This year is going to be an extremely tough year transitioning from what I know... to what I need to be for this new school. It's going to be a lot of work and I'm sure I'm going to fall flat on my face numerous times, but I'm excited. This year is going to be an amazing and enlightening adventure.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Can you guess the Second Grader?

One of my favorite beginning of the school year activities is to teach my students to draw cartoons of themselves through the use of lines and symmetry. This year rather than simply drawing self portraits, we used it as a way to decorate for our Back to School Night. We wrote clues and asked parents to guess the Second Grader. We then posted them on our Second Grade Work wall. They turned out great! I was extremely proud of their hard work.

Back to School

So the new year has begun! The classroom is all set up and the students are back. They've settled into the routines, learned the rules, practiced them over and over again and have begun to learn how to proceed through centers. We've mastered "Read to Self," have completed our first writing project and have reviewed fact families and missing addends. We've done a lot in two weeks, and I'm already so excited about what this year is going to bring.

This past thursday we had Back to School Night.  I met all the parents and handed out a variety of resources, including an extremely modified version of the handbook below. I've included a link below to our second grade handbook! We discussed the curriculum for the year, as well as what to expect along the way. I went over my procedures, and my philosophy on teaching and met each and every parent. It was a great night.

It's going to be a great year!

My New Classroom!

I updated my classroom section! I apologize for it taking so long, check out all the pictures here.