I Need Your Help!

The rush to get ready for school is in full swing, and I need your help (you being the parents in my classroom or  friends of mine who want to donate something fabulous to my class or whatever other category you might fit into as a generous person) to finish up a couple of things:

I am going to try a new idea with how to engage with vocabulary this year, similar to our Words We Know board from last year…

As we read books together, we investigate words we don't know, and connect them to what we do know to help make sense of them.

As we read books together, we investigate words we don’t know, and connect them to what we do know to help make sense of them.

…but is even more visually appealing and organized:

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 8.22.14 PM(I feel like I should apologize for the fact that this is not actually the video, but instead a link to Teaching Channel where you can find it.  Silly embed code just did not want to work….)

So as I was at Home Depot today, I grabbed 20 or so paint chips, but would LOVE IT if you could help me collect even more!  I figure they would notice less if 10 or 20 people grabbed a small stack then if I filled up my cart!  Any color will do. 🙂

Secondly, as we are working to more deeply engage readers with nonfiction text this year, I am beefing up that section of my classroom library.  I want to put in lots of different kinds of nonfiction text at many different levels.  The upper end is really in need of some attention, and following a great suggestion (from somewhere or someone really smart–I just can’t remember who), I’m adding in college textbooks and technical manuals, as well as travel books and whatever else might be of interest to a kid (and believe me, 10 and 11 year olds are interested in TONS of different topics!).

If you happen to have any books you need to clean out at home or if you’re shopping at Goodwill or a garage sale, and you see anything you think our class would benefit from, could you grab it for us?  I’d love to be able to do an even better job of surrounding my students with rich, complex, challenging text that they can dig into! (Ok, and that being said, ANY other books you’d want to donate would be TOTALLY welcomed as well….we’re easy here in Rm. 202 🙂 ).

You can feel free to leave me a comment here if you can help us, send me a message on Twitter or Facebook or even just drop it off at school in the office with my name on it!  THANK YOU in advance for whatever kind of help you can give! The readers in Rm. 202 GREATLY APPRECIATE you! 🙂

An Uncertain Future

I met with my team today–the fabulous Mrs. Hong and Ms. Turken–to talk about how to integrate reading, writing and sci/ss, as well as to update our curriculum calendar.  We only had 2 hours blocked out on the calendar, and so in some ways those were really big plans.  And we started 45 minutes late.  🙂

So, as we sat down and tried to tackle reworking the curriculum calendar (based on new Common Core standards, district resources and just things we wanted to change), we realized we had lots of work to do BEFORE we could address that problem.  You know how it goes, before you can do the job you actually sat down to do, you have to do this and before that you have to do this….we were in that boat.

We are wanting to reorganize our thinking and our schedule to allow for more integration, working Social Studies and Science topics into everything rather than having things so compartmentalized and isolated from each other.  But we had plans to UbDize (yep, just made up that word) our SS curriculum and organize our units around common EQs for each quarter.  But like I said before, it’s easier said than done.

And then there’s my crazy brain that isn’t just quite ready to think about these things.  For one thing, I have to have my space all done before I can planning for what we will do in that space.  Since it’s not even August, I do not have my classroom put together yet.  Granted, I do have all of my furniture where it will go and have big ideas for where things will go and what it will look like, but it’s not done yet.  And I have plans for how I want to redo parts of my classroom library.  And I haven’t met my class yet.

That last part is really the biggest piece of the puzzle that makes it hard for me to complete the calendar.  So in the mean time, I feel like I am facing an

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 1.09.33 PM

I know–you’re thinking, “Well, duh, Mrs. Bearden.  Isn’t the beginning of the year always uncertain?  You never really know what the school year will bring or what every detail of every day will look like.”  And no, I don’t have a crystal ball or any tarot cards, and so I guess in a way I always face an uncertain future at this point in the year.

But the reason why it so affects me is because I have such a hard time making decisions about things I’ll do and ways to go without actually knowing my students.  So much of where we go and how we get there depends on what my students need, and where they are when we start.  I have information and data about these things on paperwork (transition reports, testing scores, Lexile levels, etc.) from previous teachers, but until I really see what it looks like for actual kids in my actual space, I can’t really get a feel for it.  (My family has always said that I don’t have much of an imagination–maybe this is proof of that! 🙂 )

But obviously I can’t just not make plans.  I can’t not work with my team.  I can’t not try to figure it out now, because I owe it to these new students of mine to have at least an idea of where we will go, and how we might get there.  If not, then we’ll never get there.  And that’s definitely not an option.

Along the way I’ll tweak the plans–adjusting and reworking based on personalities, learning styles, academic and social needs, interests–and I’ll be totally ok with that.  And then, at the end of the year, I’ll look back at the plans we made around the table today in the summer and laugh, because of how different they are.  But I gotta start somewhere.

How does your “summer brain” work?  In what order do you do your work–space first or plans first? How does your team work before school starts to map our curriculum/unit plans?  I’d love your thoughts and/or advice! 🙂