Standard Practice

Remember when I told you about figuring out our class norms?  Well, another thing we worked on last week was related to the same idea–how are expected to act in our classroom.  But instead of talking about how to work with each other, this time it was about personal standards.
Now to be fair, I had a little more lead in this activity than I have in others like this.  There were some things I new I wanted to have on this list, and then I wanted them to talk to me about examples of them, or what they needed to think about in order to make them happen.  While I value kid-created ideas in almost everything we do, there are just some times when you have to start the conversation with something and help lead them in a certain direction.  This was one of those times.

 

This chart now hangs next to our class norms near our meeting area:

 

I love how these two anchor charts make it very clear the kind of people we want to be every day in our classroom!

 

 

Binder Day!

So you could have probably called today “Binder Day” in our classroom.  Sounds great, right?  I know you wish you could have been a part of it! 🙂

Why “Binder Day”?  Well, today was the day we put together two very important binders that students will use to keep their papers and data organized.

We started with this:

It might be hard to see (or understand), but it’s a binder that has a student planner, as well as 6 folders: Math, Science, Social Studies, Writing,Reading/Spelling, and Home/School.  During the day, this binder will live in their cubby, and they will put papers that they need to keep into the corresponding folder for that subject.  Then they can take the binder back and forth between home and school if they need something for homework.  It’s worked well for many other teachers, and it’s great practice for what they’ll do as big, bad 6th graders next year in middle school.

Then we worked on our data binders:

 

which also house our portfolios:

 

Tomorrow we’ll start to fill them as we begin to track our progress on beginning of the year basic facts tests.  An important part of being a successful 5th grader in our school is being able to set goals for yourself as a learner, and these two binders are two very important tools in helping our kiddos set and then ACHIEVE their personal goals.

What kinds of organization do you use to help your students?  Do you use data binders or portfolios in your classroom?  Tell us about it!

Confessions

Hopefully you’ve already read about me as a reader.  If not, I’d say it’s worth a few minutes of your time.  Please?  🙂

And so as I sat down to write about myself as a writer, I decided I needed to start with a confession instead.  Remember when I first posted about that really cool summer online writing camp I was doing?  Well, at that point I was really excited about the prospects of learning and writing with amazing teachers/writers/librarians (and I still am) and was anxious to see where the process would take me.  I really had no expectations.

I dug in, and was finally comfortable enough to post the first two things I wrote.  And that’s when it all went downhill.  Somehow the wind came out of my sails, and I have not done a single. assignment. since.

In many ways that bothers me.  I don’t like to not succeed.  I am naturally a perfectionist, and I usually take that to the nth degree when it comes to school/writing/reading/anything professional.  I am an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and so if I can’t do it all and do it right, I don’t want to do it.  But with this, I only did two assignments and then I hit a brick wall.

But after I got over the initial disappointment in myself (annoyance, really), I sat down to reflect on what had happened.  I think part of my problem was that I write mostly for myself.  I write when I need to write–which is usually to process feelings or to collect moments I don’t want to forget.  So when presented with a “job” to do, I had a hard time figuring out how to do that.   Since I write for myself, I had a hard time when the assignments/exercises were related to developing characters or settings, or outlining plans for a story.  I did not go into the camp with the plan of writing or finishing a novel.

Ok, so what matters here?  Does it really matter that I set out to do something and didn’t finish it? Or does it really matter more that I walk away with something that I learned?  I say the latter is more important.

I learned to be okay with not being perfect.  I learned that sharing your writing with strangers is hard.  Especially when you don’t really have a choice or you’re not quite sure what it’s “supposed” to look like.  These are both really important seeing as how I ask that of my student writers every day.  I know I’ll think of those times really differently in the future.  Yes, I’ll still ask them to share, but I’ll obviously have more understanding of how difficult it is.  I learned that sometimes you just need to put yourself out there and not care so much about what people say about your writing.  What’s the worst that could happen? 🙂

Oh, and just for the record, I do have plans of jumping back into Teachers Write! at some point.  The great part is that it’s all archived on the blog and I can do it at my own pace.  So yes, I’d like to say that somehow I will finish what I started, even if it looks a little different than I first thought.

Did you do Teachers Write! this summer?  How is it going for you? 

 

We’re Adopting!

Hey–now that I have your attention, let me take a minute to tell you all about something new and great that started in our room today:

 

 

We are now officially a part of Southwest Airline’s Adopt-a-Pilot program!  Marcus Smith, a pilot and a 5th grade parent, came to visit us for the first time today.  Over the next few weeks, he is going to work with us, both in person and via Skype as we learn about all sorts of topics related to math, science, and communication arts.

The purpose of today’s visit was really just for us to meet him and build a foundation for the program.  First up, meet Mr. Smith:

 

He told us about his journey to his current job, and we found out about how he had wanted to fly since he was in high school.  He told us about his time in the military, and even showed us some uniforms he’s worn in his past “lives.”

After the introduction, he asked us a question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  We went around the room and told our names and the answer to that question.  I heard answers ranging from teacher and veterinarian to dermatologist and architect.  Stay tuned this week for more on this topic–I hope to share videos or blog posts later!

Throughout the rest of the lesson, we watched a video or two about flight (he was a pilot, after all!) and talked about goal setting.  He shared a great acronym with us to remember as we work toward those goals.  It’s based on the word FLIGHT (which makes sense, right?):

As we go through this program (and beyond that, I hope), we’ll keep coming back to these qualities.

 

We really enjoyed today and are looking forward to next week when he comes back to teach us more!  A few more pics before I’m done:

One of the things we’ll do each week in between visits is figure out how many miles he’s flying.  We’re hoping to find out if he can fly the equivalent of the distance around the world before we’re done with our program–that’s almost 25,000 miles!

We’re excited to see what’s to come! 🙂

Call Me That Name Again

No, it’s not a challenge.  It’s a request: call me that name again. What name you ask?  I’ll tell you that part in a second.

First I have to apologize for the times I veer off the this-is-a-classroom-blog road and head down let-me-tell-you-a-story-about-myself lane for a bit.  I think it’s probably telling me that I need to start another blog.  But there’s time for that later.  Now back to that name…

I’ve been called many things in my life, starting with Jennifer–which makes sense since that’s my name.   For a long time when I was littler I was Jenny (sometimes spelled with an “i” and sometimes with a “y”), and some people (mainly family) still call me that today.  During junior high I apparently had an identity crisis, because I had a new name every week: Jen (with one “n”), Jenn (with two “n’s”), those two versions of Jenny, and then for a couple of days I had people calling me Jenna.  I know.  Weird.

Somewhere in college I started with Jen primarily, and now even introduce myself that way.  Only a few people call me Jennifer.

There are other things that they call me though, too.  Mrs. Bearden.  Wife.  Mom.  Sister.  Daughter.  Teacher.  Tweeter.  Reader.  Writer.  Crafter.  Blogger.  Then last summer I earned a new name–Runner–when I finally started my goal of losing weight and getting more active.  I was on a roll and loving every minute of my journey towards being able to run 5K without stopping.  This was a huge feat for someone who has never really exercised before, but I did it!  And then you know what I did?  I made that goal, along with my weight-loss goal, and then I stopped. Ugh!  November came and it was a little bit chilly outside, so I didn’t run one night.  And then I didn’t go out the next night.  And then by that time it was really cold outside and I wasnotmotivated to go outside and run.

So fast forward to today.  It was 80 and BEAUTIFUL today, and I went running again!  No, unfortunately, I couldn’t go out and instantly run my almost-4-miles I was up to a few months ago, but I was out there, getting back into it.  Walked a mile and ran one, too.  And I have a goal to run a 5k with my family in May.  So I’m out there again, and you can call me that name again: Runner.  And since I said it out loud to all the world to hear it, I will have all of you to hold me accountable, right?  🙂

What names do you call yourself?  What would you like to be called?  Maybe there’s a goal in there somewhere you can work towards…:)