Featured Slider

Superheroes among us...

With the start of a new school year, as always, I find myself reflecting more than usual. Normally, I reflect on the day, the week, a lesson, how I could go back and reteach a concept, how to improve a procedure, etc., but the last few weeks has left me reflecting about more than just day-to-day occurrences. My mind has been overwhelmed with thoughts about the extreme amount of power teachers possess.

I think we, as educators, are so bombarded with responsibilities that we sometimes forget why we walk into our school building each day. Unbelievably, it's not to increase test scores (I wonder if I'll think that when April rolls around!). Nor is it to "make kids learn." It's to use the power we have at our fingertips in ways that will help children succeed.. not just in our class, but in life. It sounds so simple.

Teachers have a power like no other profession. We, single-handedly, have the power to help children see and value their own worth. We have the ability to increase self-esteem, celebrate differences, guide children in their thoughts of themselves, the world, their peers....I could go on and on. The amount of power we have is immeasurable. Yet, I don't often see teachers using their power to its full potential, if they're even using it at all...

Meanwhile, children have a superpower of their own and they're using it constantly-like superheroes in the flesh. Children have the uncanny ability to detect authenticity from deception. Think about that. As adults, we often worry about whether or not someone "likes" us based on something they said, something they did, how they spoke to us, et cetera. And kids are figuring all of that out within a matter of minutes.

Usually, when people talk to teachers about this idea, they say "reach before you teach!" Reach before you teach? It sounds like reaching a kid is something you can easily do at the beginning of the year and call it a day. But reaching students is an ongoing process... something that has to be cultivated over time. I'm no expert, by any means, but I've started to compile a list of ways to help establish a positive teacher-student relationship that has worked for me so far:

1. Mean what you say. 

This can range from something as simple as "I'm so happy to see you this morning!" to "If you do that again, you won't have recess for the rest of the year." If you really aren't excited to see the child, don't even say it. They know when you're lying. And the recess comment speaks for itself. Don't give consequences that don't match the behavior, and don't say something if you can't follow through with it.

2. Be consistent.

This has proven to be extremely difficult for me due to the simple fact that different children require different things. However, children need consistency. They will respect you for it.

3. Allow children to be their caring, loving, energetic, naturally curious selves.

Kids will be active. Kids will make poor decisions here and there. They are children! Scolding a child for a bad decision they made should be for exactly that: the bad decision the good person made. Decisions don't define you as a person- they define a choice you made.

4. Only say positive things about kids around other children.

I am a firm believer that what a child hears an adult say about them becomes the voice inside their head. If they "overhear" you saying good things about them, they will believe they are good. They will glow from the inside out. Overhearing adults say degrading things about them (or another child), plants a poor image of themselves (or the other child) in their mind. It happens at a young age, and it happens fast.

The other day, I walked down the 4th grade hall and stopped to read some of my old babies' writing. In the paragraph describing themselves, for all of the kids I taught, was adjectives I used to describe them so often last year. A child I often referred to as "caring" listed that adjective first when he was describing himself. Kids will identify with what you tell them (as long as they know you're telling the truth).

5. Use your power for good.

The Atlanta Speech School made this wonderful video that, I feel, incorporated all the thoughts I've had about ways to speak to children. It still makes me cry every time.

Seeing adults misuse their power has really taken a toll on me this year. But at the end of the day, I find peace knowing that my kids aren't going to remember every lesson I taught, but they (hopefully) will remember how I made them feel.

It's about that time again...

It's hard to believe that I'll be heading back to school in a week! Where did the summer go?! Thankfully, I spent a good amount of time working on back-to-school necessities over the break, so that way I won't be bombarded with tasks when we return to school. Whew.

I started by making these back-to-school gifts for my students. I plan to give them out during "Open House" for the students who are able to make it, and the first day of school for the rest of the kiddos. They were a big hit last year. :)

Here's how to make them:

I hope these work for you in your classroom! :)

Happy (late) St. Patrick's Day

Good afternoon! I hope everyone had a wonderful St. Patrick's Day yesterday! ...I know I did. :)

I can't even begin to describe how excited I was for my students to use the QR Code Scavenger Hunt I created! Another second grade teacher and I planned it so far in advance, I was almost too excited to wait...but I'm glad I did! Here is what we did yesterday:

We started off by placing the QR codes around our school. We were strategic in having all four scavenger hunts start and finish in the same area. That way we could monitor/help as needed for the first problem, and then all come together at the end in the same place. It seemed to work well for us.

After that, we were off to the races. We borrowed enough clipboards for all our kids (we even used whiteboards with a clothespin as a make-shift clipboard) and divided our kids up into four groups (based on current levels of performance for standard 2.NBT.7). After that, we went through the normal teacher routine of stating and modeling expectations. My class is very familiar with how to use QR codes, so they helped students less familiar if they needed assistance. Children feel so proud and accomplished when they help their peers-- it's the sweetest. :-) (Our school is fortunate enough to have access to enough iPads for two classes, so we used those as our QR scanners.) 

Mrs. Watts-Blount and I each strategically chose a group to work with and we are fortunate enough to have additional support. So, our paraprofessional took another group. The group completing the "Subtraction with Regrouping" scavenger hunt was sent to complete theirs on their own (we know our students well!). All students worked extremely well in their groups! 

The kids were working so hard to find the "pot of gold," I think they forgot they were even working at all. What an engaging activity! Even students who normally don't get too excited to complete math problems were squirming with excitement. It's such a great sight to see.... I mean, what is better than seeing students excited for learning? Isn't that our job as educators? ...to give students the necessary tools to have in their tool box so they can pull them out whenever they need to problem solve? I saw students who have worked their tails off to master this standard TEACHING other students how to use the strategy they chose. I saw students SHOWING other students why they thought their strategy was appropriate for 

the current problem. I saw students EXPLAINING their thinking to justify their answer to their peers. 
Mrs. Watts-Blount and I have given our students those tools...the ability to think, show, explain, model, justify, teach...and all students, regardless of ability, pulled their tools out of their toolbox and found the pot of gold.

I could not be more proud of our second graders! You can find the QR Code Scavenger Hunts here! :-)  

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Whew, what an exciting day! Anyone who knows me knows how much I absolutely adore Dr. Seuss. :) My class and I had such a great time with all of our activities today. One of my students even said, "Ms. Grider, can we please stay inside for recess today? Dr. Seuss' birthday is more important than playing outside." ...one happy teacher right here!

First, my students estimated how many Skittles there were in my "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" jar. There were estimates ranging from 80 all the way to 1,100! I put around 850 Skittles in the jar, so my student who guessed 1,100 won the entire jar of Skittles... I hope I don't have any angry parents! :) You can download the free riddle from my TpT store!

After lunch, we talked about setting new goals for the remainder of the school year, as well as lifelong goals my students have. At the beginning of the school year, my students set goals (mostly pertaining to reading), and they were ecstatic to have met the goals they set for themselves. Most of them even surpassed their goals!

My students never cease to amaze me. Anyway, they set new goals and we put them on the back of a hot air balloon that I copied onto plain white card stock.

After that, we used Mod Podge and tissue paper to decorate our hot air balloons. (We will be completing the bottom portion tomorrow morning and then I will hang them from the ceiling in our classroom.) My kids are incredibly talented! I'll post the final product as soon as we're finished.

Last, but not least, I gave my students their rainbow, Dr. Seuss-inspired cookies! I got the "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" cards from here! Aren't they adorable?!

Have a great day and remember to read a Dr. Seuss book tonight! :)

My first TpT product!

Good morning, all!

I am so excited to finally have my site up and running, as well as my TpT store! I sure have been using these snow days to my advantage. :)

My first product on TpT is a (free) St. Patrick's Day themed QR Code Scavenger Hunt. I use these in my classroom for differentiated math groups, and sometimes as whole group activities. I post different color scavenger hunts all around our classroom and my students independently do the color that has been assigned to their group. My kids LOVE it! It's great because they can self-monitor their work and use their group mates to help them clear up any questions or errors they may have made while I am working with my guided math groups. I will have more posted soon to reach more standards and grades, so check back shortly. The QR code activity can be found here!

Have a great day!