Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting Organized

As I said in my last post, I needed to take a few steps back and begin at the beginning with my planning.  That's exactly what I did and here's what it looks like.  I should explain first that my vision for this year is to divide my 80 minute classes into 4 blocks:  20 minutes of stations, 20 minutes of whole group instruction, 20 minutes of project time, and 20 minutes of writing.  To make this work, I have to be super organized.  I am working to have sheets like this for each of the new-to-me standards I will teach this year.  I keep them in my lesson plan binder for quick reference.


The daily project time will be my core differentiation time.  Most projects will integrate technology and I wanted to go ahead and consider higher-order thinking as I outlined ideas.  With all of the Common Core's focus on writing, I also wanted to "begin with the end in mind" and consider ways to include narrative, informative, and argumentative writing.

This is all far from finished and a very rough draft still of what will turn into my lesson plans and then what I teach, but I love having things in one place.  Otherwise when the time comes to teach a standard, I run around to my filing cabinet, files on my computer, Discovery Education for videos, finding those online games, pinterest ideas, etc.  Even though I haven't gotten to put this into practice for 3rd grade, I did the same thing for Kindergarten and it was wonderful!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

News Articles for Kids

Among what I feel like are thousands of things going through my mind for what I want to do this year in 3rd grade science and social studies, I keep coming back to the importance of not just incorporating complex text into my curriculum but trying to stretch myself to the point that I am starting with a complex text and moving toward my curriculum from there as endorsed by the Common Core State Standards.  With that said, it is overwhelming to think how few materials my new classroom has to offer.  This morning (as part of my "Starting Over" post) I have been searching for FREE, high quality sources of informational text for my students and thought I'd share them.  Some of the articles are above 3rd grade reading levels but are still useful.  I'm imagining the possibilities of the ways I can use these resources for centers!

http://www.readworks.org/books/passages - requires a subscription but it is still free
http://teachkidsnews.com/ - articles include questions and writing prompts
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/stories/

Starting Over

Yesterday I mentioned to someone that I am stressed out because school will be starting in just a few short weeks and I won't have all of my lesson plans laid out for the entire year before school starts!  Of course the person laughed in my face and I was half kidding, but I really was only half kidding because I do feel the need to be prepared.  I thought I was getting there, but realized last night how far away I am ...

Last week I started working on a plants unit.  I set up a wonderful template in SMART Notebook for the lessons, videos, experiments, resources, center ideas, etc. and felt like I was in my groove.  But it hit me last night that I haven't been very smart with what I've worked on so far.  I've put all this effort into my first science unit without considering my "big picture" for the year and on top of that, it's like I've decided not to teach social studies with how little attention I've given it.  I am so disappointed in myself!

I know that at some point this summer I looked over the proposed new social studies standards for Tennessee, but this morning was the first time I really did a side-by-side comparison of the old and new.  I had no idea how much more in-depth the geography focus has become!  But at the same time I was excited because I immediately remembered the wonderful professor I had in college for Geography and Geology whose awesome teaching made me think these subjects rocked (pun intended)!  Time to bust out my college class notes and get some pointers from a pro!

So with all that said, I need to go back to the plan of attack I follow when changing curriculum:
1. Set up a word document with my scope and sequence.
2. Include links or notes in the document for great generic resources.
3. Start adding links or notes in the document for topic-specific resources.

Here I go ...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

New Shelf

Here is my new shelf!  Clint found this treasure at a yard sale for $25.  I painted the shelves and re-purposed my book baskets from Kindergarten to create this.  I love how it looks so much that I don't even want to put anything in the baskets!  I'll get over it soon though!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

New Classroom

I officially found out a couple of weeks ago that I will be teaching 3rd Grade Science and Social Studies this year.  I loved my years in Kindergarten but I'm super excited to mix things up and start over.  Now for the overwhelming part of setting up a new classroom ... and learning my new curriculum ... and creating awesome lesson plans ... AAHHHH!  It does stress me out to think about because I feel like summer is already over even though there are still a few weeks left, but there's just so much to do.  I thought I should post some pictures of the current situation to give the before pictures. Pay special attention to the wall where they painted around the bulletin boards. That was an unexpected surprise :(