I am a new primary teacher with the Vancouver School District after over 26 years as a K-3 teacher with Surrey Schools in British Columbia, Canada. With 25+ years of experience and a bunch of improvements along the way, I still have so much more to learn. This blog is a way to help me process and share all that I'm discovering on my quest to be the best educator I can be.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have trouble sitting still. It's not just a physical thing, it's a mental thing too. As the 2011/2012 school year start comes near I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to fit it all in. Here are some things I'm contemplating.
Obviously as a grade one teacher my job is to get my students reading and writing. Reading Twitter the latest buzz program is The Daily 5. I have read both The Daily 5 and The Cafe Book. I like what they have to say, and much of what the books are saying were already part of my literacy program. But I'm not sold on the actual structure of the program. From reading the books I think it's okay that I don't use their structure.
In recent years I have set reading and writing goals with my students - sometimes directed by me, sometimes in collaboration with my students, and sometimes directed by my students. Each student has individual needs, and their learning goals reflect that. This year I once again want to use my literacy blocks as efficiently as possible. I want to continue my guided reading groups but I also want to have strategy reading groups. I want to continue my one on one conferencing too. I want to continue my community read. I want to continue to allow my students to do their reading and writing where ever they want in the room, and in most cases with whom ever they would like. I want to continue Reader's Chair where students share their reading with the class. I want to continue using my literacy conference books to document their learning and have that documentation open to parents - instead of in a private binder for my eyes only.
In writing I want to implement a lot of what I've read in No More "I'm Done!" Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades. I want to have guided writing groups based on need and I want those groups to be fluid. I want to do more writing mini lessons and give my student more choice in what they write about. I'll be moving away from theme based writing.
Social Emotional Learning
Last year I was a School Advisor for a Teacher Candidate in the Bachelor of Education Program of UBC. She was part of the Social Emotional Cohort which allowed me to attend a Mind Up training session. I was also trained in the Fun Friends program, another social emotional program. While I don't yet know who will be in my class this school year I have been told that I have a few students with anxiety issues. I also know that I will have a selective mute in my classroom. I would really like to utilize both of these programs in my class this year.
This year I'll take another stab at having open ended math lessons when ever possible. I'll continue to do stations/centres approach. I have a few units that I'd like to continue to tweak too.
If there is one thing that I learned this summer on Twitter is that technology is the bomb. I want to be able to provide my students with as much access to technology as I'm able. I want it to be integrated into everything we do. Now, I only have one some what decent, and one only sort of decent computer in my classroom. We do have a full computer lab, and last year there were open blocks throughout the week. We also have laptop carts which can be signed out to individual teachers. I've always kept the laptops out of my room until term three, but this year I want them in sooner, much, much sooner. I want to get my class blog up and running as quickly as possible, and I want to use the blog as a way of sharing with the world what's happening in our classroom. I also want to find ways to get even more technology into my classroom, and into my school. I'm hoping I can get other primary teachers on board. There is a lot I want to do with technology.
Daily Physical Education
As a retired Ironman Athlete I strongly believe in physical education. Thankfully I teach with another grade one teacher who feels the same way. In addition to our two gym classes a week, she and I take our students on a 1.2 km walk/run twice a week. Our goal is to accumulate enough kilometres to walk/run us all the way across Canada - Run Across Canada. We always seem to make it just outside of Ontario, but it would be great if we could make it even further.