Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Lesson Plan Diva Giveaway

Wow, this is a great giveaway! The Lesson Plan Diva is giving her beginning sounds activity pack to everyone who participates for free! Yes, I said it was free!!

Just hop on over to The Lesson Plan Diva's blog for the rules.

I know I can't wait to get mine. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Books for Character Education

I have said it before and I will say it again - I love to teach kids about character education! I find too often that students come to school without any understanding of what the word respect is. When asked to define it they typically just give me a shoulder shrug or roll their eyes. Don't you just love the eye roll? That's the "I know what it is, but don't want to admit it because I know I'm not doing it" look.

I am interested in your opinion on the best picture books to use to teach character education to kindergarten through third grade. If you know of great books that would fit this topic, you have or know of great teaching resources like lessons or units, please pass along the info.

I am working on my masters degree, spending too much time playing useless games on FB, and need to re-direct my focus back to education. I want to focus my love of literacy and character education into creating mini-lessons for other teachers.

Have any ideas? Please pass them along! Thanks everyone!

Mrs. Randall's Learning Library

To celebrate her 300+ followers, Mrs. Randall is holding a giveaway on her blog. The winner will receive a $25 gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond. I could soooo use that right now. I love that store and am planning on reorganizing my daughter's bedroom in a few weeks. This gift card would help tremendously!

I've Got Mail

I was soooo very excited when I went to the mailbox today and found a package waiting for me. It was my winnings from Tales of a Teacherista! As some of you may remember, I won her giveaway that she had celebrating her 100+ followers.

I received my choice of resources from Anna Brantley's TpT store and chose her Birds, Bugs, and Butterflies Math & Literacy Packet. It's absolutely adorable & I really can't wait to put it to good use!

In the mail today was the book "I'm Your Bus," by Marilyn Singer and a set of polka-dot mini file folders from Ms. Pollard at Tales of a Teacherista. Oh my goodness, these are the most adorable little folders! I love mini supplies and these are great! The book is wonderful and I see so many potential uses for it. It takes you through the life and day of a school bus -so cute! There are blends and rhymes and so many other great literacy opportunities in this book.

Thanks to both of you again for holding this giveaway & I'm still excited that I won!

Oh, in case anyone was wondering, I use Picnik to edit my photos!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I just need a break!

I debated whether or not to blog about this, and finally decided "what the heck!"

I am confused about how school districts decide who they are going to interview and hire when it comes to a job opening. I have heard of two schools in my district recently that have hired teachers from out of the district and out of state. Why do I not even get an interview for these positions? They are positions for which I am highly qualified and certified for. Another school district has a position on their job vacancy list but is only looking for "experienced" teachers.

Yes, I changed careers in mid-life. Yes, I am dedicated to the teaching profession. I student taught in a third grade class two years ago. I have volunteered nearly 100 hours each of the last three years in an elementary school (the one I student taught in). I have worked as a private summer tutor. I have worked as a reading tutor. I have worked in an after school program for two years. I have long-term subbed as both a media clerk and an ESOL teacher. I also work as a substitute teacher. I am committed, dedicated, and reliable. I am working on my masters degree because I want to be the best teacher I can be, and be as prepared for the classroom as I can.

Does it matter that I have never taught full-time in a classroom? I don't think so. I come from a retail management background. I know how to manage assets, set up displays, recruit, handle employee issues. I can handle classroom time management, creating a pleasing workspace for students, helping children become great students and citizens. Seriously, working with adults was worse than working with kids!

I am so ready for a classroom - I just need a break! Let me get my foot in the door and prove what an asset I can be to a school and the students that learn there!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Blog Added & Giveaway

I've just found Peterson's Primary Peeps as I browsed through my blog list. What a cute site & I just love the name!

I'm a bit late posting this giveaway since it ends tonight, but hope someone finds her blog helpful!

It's Another Giveaway!

You have an opportunity to win a "Boost Your Book Sales Kit," "My Emergency Sub Plan Kit," and "My Ultimate Teacher Organizer." These are all from Clutter-free Classroom!

She's got an incredibly wonderful website filled with great ideas. All you need to do is skip on over to her blog to enter! Hurry because the giveaway ends on 6/3/2011.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Giveaway at Teaching Mrs. Lazenby

Have you read "The Essential 55" by Ron Clark? If not it is a must-read for any teacher! I've actually borrowed it from the local elementary school library a couple of times because I learned something new each time.

Success in Bloom is all about teaching children how to be respectful little citizens in the school community and beyond. This book is very helpful in that aspect.

Mrs. Lazenby is giving away a brand new copy of this book. For information on how to enter you'll have to hop on over to her blog, Teaching Mrs. Lazenby.

Fairy Tale of a Giveaway

Curls and a Smile is hosting a giveaway and giving 18 chances to win three awesome fairy tale units from three different teacher bloggers!

This is a great chance to win some wonderful products. All you need to do is head over to Curls and a Smile for 18 chances, yes I said 18 chances, to enter to win these great units. You can follow some wonderful teacher blogs, Teachers Pay Teachers stores, Twitter and Facebook pages!

I'm a Winner!

I am so excited about this! I won a blog giveaway at Tales of a Teacherista!!!

I've won some really cute mini file folders that I think would make great envelopes for behavior cards or notes back and forth to home when laminated. I love anything in miniature form & these are just adorable!

I also won the book, "I'm Your Bus," by Marilyn Singer. It looks like an adorable book and will make a great addition to my book collection.

And last but not least - I have also was able to choose a great resource from Anna Brantley's TPT store. I chose to receive Birds, Bugs, and Butterflies Math & Literacy Center packet. I think this will go great with my Success in Bloom theme!

Thanks go out to both Mrs. Pollard for hosting this giveaway and to Anna for including her great item!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What She Said

I've been reading through some of the blogs I follow today and came across an amazing post from Sydney at Lessons Learned.

I am currently searching for a teaching job, but do work in an after school program and substitute. I firmly believe in teaching children how to be responsible and respectful. I teach mini character education lessons because I do not feel as though some students receive these lessons at home.

There is a teacher in a local school who requires her students to answer in complete sentences. The students greet each other by name every morning. They say please and thank you. I love subbing for her because all of her students are amazing!

Well, when I finally get my own classroom, I want to be just like her! I want to teach my students about being kind to each other. I can picture giving my students the same speech that Sydney gave her students. Please check out her post - It will move you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Followers Missing

For some reason the "followers" section of most blogger blogs is missing in action the last day or so. I have now added an option for people to subscribe to my blog by email. I know I have found a couple new blogs I wanted to stalk, I mean follow, and couldn't because their followers area was blank. I was glad that they had the subscribe section so I wouldn't forget who they were and could still receive updates from them.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Love when they "get it"

Today was my last day subbing for an ESOL teacher in an elementary school. I absolutely loved working with the kindergarteners. I've been with them for six weeks and we've been working on vocabulary and sight words.

I downloaded a Dolch sight word game from A Place to Share and the kids absolutely loved playing the "shark" game. They enjoyed sounding out the words shown on the fish and were sometimes more excited about getting a shark than a fish. If they got a shark it would "eat" their fish and they would lose all their fish. A couple students had difficulty sounding out some words at the beginning and they would always say the same wrong word. Now six weeks later when they got that card they would say, "remember when I used to say ____, now I know it's ___".

I loved seeing the excitement on their faces when they knew they could read the words correctly!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How do you encourage?

How do you encourage student growth on a daily basis?

I am in a unique position as an educator - I'm not currently teaching full-time, but serve as a substitute in a few local schools and work in an after school program. This gives me an opportunity to observe a number of educators in a variety of school cultures.

I have witnessed some amazing moments between teacher and student, and then there are those teachers I think need to take a reality check. If you cannot encourage a child in a positive manner you really need to leave the profession. If you cannot use positive reinforcement, keep quiet. Some educators need to listen to the words that come out of their mouths, really listen to the way they speak to children and ask themselves if they would want someone to treat them the same way.

I recently had a student tell me they liked me better than other teachers they had. When I asked why the student told me it was because I listened. This student has been labeled a troublemaker because they speak their mind. While I do not like some of the things this child says, I do encourage the fact that this student is unique and that boldness is what makes them different from others. I have talked with this student and encouraged positive behavior instead of some negative traits the student has displayed.

So how do I encourage student growth? I listen, listen, listen because students just want their voice heard. I treat the student like a human being who has thoughts and feelings that should be valued by others. I teach respect of others. I encourage students to value themselves and others. I do not devalue a student. I do not discourage children from being themselves. I do guide them to be the best they can be and to follow the Golden Rule - "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Giveaway at The Apple Basket Teacher

Nancy at The Apple Basket Teacher is celebrating her 101 followers on her blog with a giveaway!

One person will win some really cute teacher pins and earrings that she made. That lucky person will also receive an autographed copy of Kaye Webster's third book, The Crossroad Chronicles: Stinky Pete; A Pirate's Tale.

There are quite a few ways to enter, so head on over to The Apple Basket Teacher to find out how you can get a chance to win these cool prizes!

School Year Nearly Finished

Well, this week marks the last week of full day classes for our district. We'll have Memorial Day off and then three half days and the school year is over. It's a bit sad because I'll miss my little friends, some from both schools I work at.

Our district is in a budget crisis and tomorrow is the day teachers need to have their signed contracts back to principals. I've already heard of a few changes for the upcoming school year and the more I hear it does not look promising for me to find a job. I'm amazed at the number of districts and schools I've applied to in the last two years as I try to find a full-time teaching position. It is getting seriously frustrating, but it helps tremendously to know that I have been able to get tutoring and subbing jobs at my favorite elementary school the last couple years!

Any tips on how to find a job in this economy?

The one good thing about "summer vacation" coming soon is that I will have more time to devote to my masters degree. I have about a year left and really hope that I will have a job by then so I can put all this learning to good use!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Giveaway at Read Write Sing

Chrissy at Read Write Sing is giving away the book, "Only One You." She is celebrating 50+ followers on her blog!

To enter her giveaway all you need to do is hop on over to her blog, follow her blog, blog about her giveaway, and tell her what you like to do with your kiddies on the last day of school. You'll need to leave a comment about each of the above on her blog. It's that simple!

I checked out this book on Amazon and it looks adorable! I think it would be good for character education lessons too.

Good luck to all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My favorite success story!

While student teaching in third grade I attended a diversity workshop through the college I was attending. The keynote speaker talked to us about believing in ourselves and asked us to say, "I am a genius." You can imagine a group of adults repeating this phrase, feeling silly. Now think of how a child feels when an adult tells them they can do something, but they don't believe in themselves.

I started a respect lesson with my students by reading, The Crayon Box That Talked, by Shane DeRolf. We discussed how we all needed each other to make a complete picture. We discussed respecting others and ourselves. Then I asked the students to repeat the phrase, "I am a genius".

At this point most of the students thought I was crazy, but they played along. I noticed one boy not saying it and asked him to say it. He quietly put his head down and said he was not a genius. I told him that he would eventually believe in himself and some day he would tell me on his own.

A few days later I walked by as he was finishing an AR test on the computer. He had scored a 100%. I asked if he thought he was a genius yet and he told me no. I reassured him that someday he would believe it and tell me he was. A few more days went by and he scored a 100% on a spelling test. His teacher told me this was the highest score he had ever had on a spelling test. I quietly brought the test to his desk, set it down, and told him I was proud of him for getting the highest score he'd ever gotten. I went back to my table to grade the rest of the tests when I realized he was standing in front of me. I asked what I could do for him and he said, "Mrs. Johnston, I am a genius."

I nearly cried when he told me that! He finally believed in himself and realized what I had known all along - every child can find success if they only look within themselves and determine what success means to them!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Unmotivated Students

How does a teacher motivate a student who is unwilling to participate in their own learning? I recently spoke to a teacher who was on the brink of pulling her hair out because her student's did not care about upcoming state testing. They were taking a practice test so the student's could learn how to take this particular test. It's the first time they've taken it and they needed to be prepared. They are not allowed to talk, but the teacher told me several were talking. She explained to them the importance of the test and that it can help them to be grouped where they need to be next year.

The student's responses amazed us both. One student said they didn't care how they did because their friends were dumb and they wanted to do bad so they could be with their friends. Another student said if they did bad they would be put in a lower group and have less work to do.

This is sad! What happened to the days where a good grade made a kid feel good about themselves? When did the self-motivation leave and the notion that what you do is good enough enter?

I deal with this daily. I have one student in my after school program that is an A/B student. The child will throw a math book on the table next to me and say, "I don't know how to do this, you need to help me." When I ask if the student has reviewed the material I get rolled eyes. I start by reading the question out loud and then ask the student how they think the problem should be solved. More eye rolling. I then explain how the examples were solved. At this point I either get more eye rolling, the child leaves the table in a huff, or the child makes a minimal attempt to answer my questions. The student has told me more than once that it would just be easier if I just say the answer. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

I am a teacher. I guide a student to find the answer. I do not "give" the answer. I will not participate in a child's instant gratification. I do not believe this fosters self-motivation. I am constantly learning and I work hard to gain new knowledge. I expect the same from my students. I expect them to participate in their own learning. When they realize they are able to learn, when that light bulb goes off in their minds, it is that point that they become motivated to learn more. When they know they "can" accomplish something they will be more motivated to continue learning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Giveaway at Kinderglynn

Kinderglynn is giving away $20.00 to her TPT store in honor of her son's birthday on May 5th.

The contest ends at 10:00 est on 5/5/11.

Here's how to enter:
Visit Kinderglynn to follow her blog, follow her TPT store, and post this giveaway on your own blog.

Good luck!

Teacher Blog Stalker

I admit it. I have become a teacher blog stalker. I search out teacher blogs to learn what others in the field are doing in their classrooms. I am living vicariously through all the wonderful teachers I am following every day. Whenever I see a great idea, and it's being shared by a great teacher, I will download it and add it to my files.

I am early childhood certified, but don't know what grade I'll be teaching when I get a job. Therefore, I've got files for each grade level. It may seem like a lot, but it'll be a huge help when I get a classroom because I'll be able to use these great resources with students who are below level, on level, or above grade level!

I'm really excited about everything I'm learning from everyone. If there is a teacher blog out there that I'm not following and you think it would be useful, please pass the info along!

As soon as I figure out Google Docs, I'll be posting some of the lessons I have developed.