Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Back to School Changes and Planning - It's that time already!

Happy Tuesday Everyone,
We at last have a beautiful day here in Ohio, no rain, lower humidity and temps in the 70's.  Ahhhhh! It kind of feels like fall.  I know, I know be quiet!  But this type of weather makes me think of school and gets my ideas flowing.  I have been thinking a lot about what I want to change or add for next year's lessons.

When I was student teacher (Yeah 20 years ago I cannot believe it has been that long!)  my mentoring teacher told me to be reflective about my lessons of the day (What worked or did not work and how can I make my lessons better?). I think that is the one thing that really stuck with me from my student teacher days!  Remember I student taught there was no internet, Smartboards or even whiteboards and no Pinterest!  WOW has teaching changed! I do have to say I LOVE teaching even more now!

So here is what I am thinking about...

4th & 5th Grade Science
QOW - I am going to start a Question of the Week to try to do a review over material they should know or we are learning.  On our standardized testing last year I notice the kids were missing stuff they should already know. I do not have time to go back and reteach 3rd or 4th grade material so I thought I would give them a 2 sided worksheet at the beginning of the week which will be due on Friday. This is going to be tough for the kids since they are not use to homework in science.   If they have a parent's signature I will give 1 point extra credit to help motivate them to complete the QOW.  I am thinking of purchasing Ari's  Science-Warm-ups-Bundle from the Science Penguin which has daily questions and I will give them four questions each week.  I love her stuff.  

Health 3rd Quarter - I always have taught health during the fourth quarter but after I looked closely at my kids' test scores I noticed they were missing quite a few basic health type questions.  So I think I am going to move it up to the 3rd quarter.  We do our testing at the end of the 3rd quarter, beginning of the 4th quarter so I am hopping they will stop missing these questions.

Monthly STEM / STEAM Activities -  With such a push to do more STEM / STEAM activities in the education world I thought I should integrate more into my lessons.  They kids love to do them too.

Science Olympiad Team -  My motivation is I want to try something different and give myself a new challenge.  One of my BTF is a teacher on her school's team and they placed in first place!  We would also be the first school in our city to compete.  I can't wait to get started.

Young Astronauts - We are very lucky to have NASA here in our backyard.  Every year they have groups of kids from schools around the area come and do science / space type activities.  This will be the first year I take a group of 3rd, 4th and 5th graders.

4th Grade Reading
Book Club Groups -  We have very big classes, last year I had 27 kids in each fourth grade homeroom. This year I have heard I will have 32 kids in each fourth grade homeroom...Whoa!  Last year my book clubs ranged from 6 - 8 kids which was great but I think the quieter kids got lost.  So this year I want to try to make the groups smaller, 4 - 5 kids. Hopefully I can find all the books I will need.  I usually gather from my collection, the school's very small collection and 2 different county's library systems.  It is a lot of planning and legwork but the kids love the book clubs.

40 Book Club -This is from the Book Whisper herself! I proposed this idea of reading 40 books during the school year to my kids last year thinking only a few kids will actually read 40 books.  Boy was I surprised, out of 54 kids, 30 kids were at the end of the year party.  An ice cream sundae bar!  Yum!! So this year I need to challenge them more....my new rule is you have to read so many books from each genre I assign and you must pass an AR quiz in their level (ZPD) after reading the book. I can't wait to see how they do!

Mystery & Author Skype - First the kids love anything technology related then getting to meet kids in another part of the world with Mystery Skype or their favorite author !  Too cool!

Flashlight Friday - Last year every Friday I had the kids independently read for the entire class time.  This year I want to hold them more accountable by having them fill out a quick response sheet. I made some for my TpT store if you would like to take a peek click here - Quick and Easy Reading Response Sheets. 

Reading Conference - Last year I tried very hard to meet with kids to talk about their reading and I even had a binder where I wrote down notes after the conference.  I just felt like I was missing some or not meeting enough so this year I am going to make a calendar where I assign kids/groups days for our conferences. I think if I am a little more organized I will make better use of my time.

So there is my ideas in a nutshell.  What are you doing to changing things up with your lessons?  I would love to hear from you!

Happy Summer,

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