Friday, October 31, 2014

Five For Friday October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! We have had a crazy busy fun filled week!  Lots of history and lots of candy make for an exhausting week!

My week started with a field trip for the Earth Science STEM class I am taking.  We all met at the Churchill County Museum in Fallon, NV (which we toured a bit before leaving) and then headed to a place called The Hidden Caves which were used by Native Americans.  It is the site of several archaeological digs, and they have opened it up to the public.  Here are a few pics from our visit:

Monday, I took my own class on a field trip to City Hall as part of our social studies curriculum.  They were able to meet and greet with the mayor and then take a tour of the building.  They had a ton of questions for our mayor!  They were also able to see voting in action as we are currently in the middle of early elections.

They were so surprised to see their teacher's picture on the wall (I am on the city council).

They even got bags of goodies!  They were filled with pencils, city pins, Nevada pins, along with candy and glow sticks.

We received dictionaries from the Rotary Club this week and they were so excited to each have their own!  They also noticed that there were resources in the dictionary such as a map of the United States, common conversions, and even a multiplication chart.  They were quite amazed by the longest word in the English language and were extremely thankful that I would not be putting it on our spelling test this week!

In Nevada, we celebrate Nevada Day on October 31st, so we actually have today off!  Yesterday we participated in a record breaking attempt at the most people singing Home Means Nevada as part of our state's 150th birthday celebration.

We also learned about the Pony Express - complete with a reenactment!  Photo creds to one of my third grade team members.

And since we have today off.. we celebrated with our Halloween party yesterday.

Be sure to link up and share your week as well!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Conference Tips For Teachers

 This week we have parent teacher conferences.  This is the first year that I am sitting on both sides of the table for the SAME conference.  Luke is in my class this year, so I really have a different perspective of what I would like to see in a conference as a parent.  Here are a few of the things that I prepared this week along with a few helpful tips that may help you get through your own conferences.

Let's face it, we all have busy lives and tend to forget things.  I send a notice home to let them know when their conference is scheduled, and then a second follow up reminder. These are the ones I sent home this year:


I found this AMAZING freebie from Jodi Southard from Fun-in First on TpT that had everything I needed already done for me!  Did I mention that it was FREE?  The best part?  Not only is it Free, but it is customizable!

Parent Teacher Conference Forms {FREEBIE} 

Sometimes parent teacher conferences can be just as nerve wrecking (or even more) than our teacher evaluations!  I know that I am sometimes nervous to meet with parents (especially if there have been any issues with their child).  One way to ease those nerves is to remember that the parents are truly your partners.  They have their child's best interest at heart and most likely want to help you to help their child be successful in school.

The best way to open a conference is by sharing an anecdote about the child.  Parents appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to know their child.  A brief story about a comment made during a read aloud, an entry in their writer's notebook, or a compliment about their social interactions on the playground really personalizes the conference and makes it more satisfying for the parents.

If you have pictures to share - they will love them!

                                                       Yep!  That's my Luke's sweet face!

                                                                I love the look on her face!

Next, have the parent share their impressions of how school is going for their child.  Ask them to share what is going well for their child and what they think their child might be struggling with.  Ask them if they have any specific questions they would like to have answered during the conference.

Draw on their expertise when it comes to their child.  If you are having a problem with their child finishing work, you might ask, "Is this a problem at home?  What things seem to help the situation?"

Last year I had a student who had a hard time following directions.  At his parent teacher conference his mom suggested that sometimes he needed extra time to process and think about what you said.  She suggested giving a direction, waiting a minute or two, and then asking him if he remembered what he needed to do.  Once he verbally repeated what my directions were, he would get started.  It was almost like a miracle! 

Don't make snap judgements about parents or their parenting styles even if you have heard rumors from previous teachers.  Face each parent as if they are your ally in working with your student.  Remember, no one is a perfect parent, we each are trying to do the best we can with what we have. I hope I don't judge myself to harshly! :D

If you can, provide parents with resources to help their child including: internet sites, educational apps, and even extra worksheets.  Be creative in coming up with solutions and ways parents can help.

Don't forget to share reading resources as well.  As teachers we tend to throw around reading levels (Fountas & Pinnell, DRA, AR) but forget that this means nothing to the parent.  Have a few books available at the child's independent level to show the parent what it looks like.

 Go into each conference knowing exactly what you want to tell each parent.  I put together a folder of all the important data and work samples that I want to share. I put sticky notes to remind me of places I need to highlight or things I want to remember to tell them about.

Some things I include:

*Report cards
* DRA scores
*MAPS scores
*AR and AM results for the quarter
*Writing samples from the beginning of the year and now
*Student self assessments

I always ask my students to rate how they feel about their performance in school.  They are almost always completely honest, and in some cases even harsher critics than I am!  Jodi has included this form in the freebie as well, and I have shared a few of my student's responses.

What's your best parent-teacher conference or tip?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five for Friday - October 17, 2014

After a VERY long week, today is finally Friday!  I truthfully could not be any happier!  It seems like a great time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

Although it was a long week, we had quite a few successes.  I am SO PROUD of this kiddo!

At the beginning of the year when we started Writer's Workshop he HATED writing and only wrote a sentence or two at a time.  Now he's writing like a mad man!

He's proud of himself too!

Look at that smile!  Amazing what the power of choice can do for a writer!

He's letting me know that he wrote 2 chapters!
I am also super proud of our first "belt" winner for our Kicking It Math.  It's the system I use in my classroom for my students to master their math facts.  They LOVE it!

We also had a blast building roller coasters with our STEM kit we received from Donors Choose.

My "other job" is as a city councilman, and in honor of National Boss Day, our City Attorney sent these beautiful flowers to my school yesterday.

It was a great surprise, especially after a morning of spilled Starbucks (all over my desk and papers - grrr!) and a long collaboration meeting.


Last but not least, Tales From A Very Busy Teacher has recently gotten a makeover and is celebrating her new blog design with a giveaway!  I have donated a winner's choice item and there are tons of other prizes to win as well!  Head over to enter!

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