National Boards: Editing Nightmare


For those who do not know what National Boards for teachers is, it is an accelerated teaching program that has 4 components where you need to go above and beyond with how you teach and why you do what you do in the classroom, specifically focusing on one student and then the whole class. This includes a 13 page paper, 2 video taped lessons of 15 minutes each, a 3 hour test, another 15 page page, 2 written papers about the videos… and I think that’s it!

My teaching partner and I decided we would do this in one year. Why not!? Its possible to do, we are going to do it. But right now it is just a lot of work. I am in the process of making edits to my 19 page paper that can only be 13 pages at the most and I had two people read my paper and correct it. There are so many corrections. You would think I was not a good writer.

But the one thing I have noticed about my writing is that I tend to add in a lot of extra nouns that don’t need to be there. Some of the most common words I have been deleting are: and, the, be able to, that, with, were, was, also, noticed

And the list goes on.

I am hoping to finish this paper tonight, however, it is midnight and I am on page 11 of 19…. and I started quite a while ago!


What Teachers Really Do on Week Breaks 

Everyone thinks it’s so great to be a teacher because we have all this time off and we get to sit around and do nothing all that time. 

What a common misconception about the reality of a teacher. Especially teachers with kids. 

What do most teachers do during a break in the middle of the year ? One would always like to think go to a tropical island and lay on the beach and drink pina cooladas right ?  And sometimes that could be the case. But usually it is doing all the things you are unable to accomplish during the week when you are working – doctors appointments.

Most people who work in an office can leave for an hour or two and go to these appointments or they can run those errands that they need to go so when it’s time to get off of work, they can just go home.  Unfortunately that does not work the same for teachers. I could not ever leave during the day for an appointment during the day! I would have to find a person to cover my class and then write sub plans for what they should do with them, if there is even a sub available. And I definitely couldn’t leave and then go back! That is not acceptable. 

So here I sit this week off, when I wish I could be on a tropical island, I am sitting in doctors office after doctors office getting all my appointments in so that I don’t have to do it all over April break too! Literally all week long. Dentist for me, dentist for Hailey,  vet for my cat, other doctors for me, etc. 

Ugh. Adulting! 

How many doctors will you see over your break ?!

SOL: To Give Homework or Not to Give Homework?


{photo credit: Mrs. Beattie’s Classroom}

This is the first time I worked in a school where homework was not mandatory. In NYC, I was required to give homework every night, over the weekends and over all of the major breaks. Then, I had to hold the students accountable for actually do it, and then to top everything off I was expected to check and grade it all every day. I had 60-80 kids in both schools. Totally crazy!

Now, what did my kids really learn from having to do all that homework? Did they do it? What happened if they didn’t? Did I let them fail if they didn’t get it done? Do I pass them because they are lazy? All these questions I had no idea on what to do. They were 5th and 6th graders in a school considered a middle school setting for 5th graders. Were we doing a disservice to these kids by giving them too much homework? It literally made them hate school more than they probably already did.

On the flip side, I am in a school now where they don’t micro manage what type of homework we give, and we have dropped down to the bare minimum. I had 6th grade last year and 3rd grade this year and literally a reading log and some math homework here and there and spelling homework is optional. Last year as a 6th grade teacher, I felt that it was important for these kids going into middle school that they needed to be held accountable for their homework and getting it done and so did my team.

This year in 3rd grade, I am beginning to see the uselessness of homework in the lower grades. My kids just don’t do it. And there parents don’t enforce it either. But, can I blame them?

What I have learned about homework recently is this: the kids who need to do it, don’t. The kids who don’t need to do it, do it. The other kids, their parents do it for them. In which case are we doing justice to everyone involved? They are supposed to go home and take what we learned in class and apply it to their homework. I can tell you that my 3rd graders walk out of my room to go home and they don’t remember a single thing about school, let alone how to do their math homework.

The next thing that I learned is that as a 8/9 year old in 3rd grade, I really just want them to go home and play! After struggling to learn and stay focused all day long, they should not have to do any homework when they go home. They are still young and need exercise and need to play and need to relax and just enjoy life. There is nothing more they are going to learn at home about math or vocabulary words at age 8 at home.

My conclusion for my belief is this: upper grades I can understand the homework, getting the students ready for college and preparing to work hard. K-4th grade need to have brain breaks. Even 5th graders, I think they are still young and need some time. 6th graders can handle the work but some choose not to out of laziness and then 7th on should be starting to prepare for college.

How do you feel about it? Do you notice the same things I do? Have you found a solution in your classroom?

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Opinion Writing Mentor Texts

A coworker and I were brain storming on some mentor texts to use for opinion writing and character analysis. We came to the conclusion that our curriculum book didn’t have any lasting characters that we could even remember to talk about so the kids surely would not remember. 

We found those four books and each of them have lasting characters and all learn a lesson. They can be used for different strategies besides just opinion writing. That is huge when buying books for me. I know Amazon makes them so cheap and so easy to get but if I can only use them once then sometimes it’s not worth it to buy. 

We needed to have a writing lesson for our national boards and we felt that there was not enough materials and resources to have a good lesson. These books I bought have really great characters in them to use as a compare/contrast, teach character traits, to use for opinion on if they would have handled the situation the same why or why not, etc. 

Based on the scenerios in the story, the kids can relate to some of them and the others are interesting with good characters. I am excited for next week to read all of these books!!!!

Workshop on Dyslexia 

I attended a workshop today on Dyslexia and I seriously love going to professional development. 

There is so much wonderful and important information out there for people, especially teachers, to learn that I just wonder why I have not been doing this my whole career. 

This workshop really helped me see the light on some of the kids in my class and what is happening. It also made me realize there is so much more to Dyslexia than just seeing words backwards and writing them backwards. 

This quote they posted up was brilliant. It was such a great quote because what they were saying with the quote was that kids with Dyslexia feel like they are stupid because they are terrible spellers, the have a hard time reading aloud and they have poor handwriting. So when they turn work in and you mark it up, writing all of the things they did wrong, they feel stupid. 

Another piece if information that I learned was that Dyslexic students memorize the words that they read because they cannot decode words like other readers, making spelling quizzes and learning how to spell nearly impossible.  I 100% have a student like this in my class. 

This was a great list of sites that can help your students or children – whether it be learning a new way to learn digraphs, prefixes and suffixes, or having speech to text. All huge resources. 

Teachers, I would recommend a workshop like this. It is very enlightening. It opened my eyes for signs to look for. 

Donors Choose – The Best Teacher Resource

As a teacher, this is one of the best emails you can receive! If you have not signed up for and you are a teacher, you are seriously missing out.

This is the 4th project that I have had funded and my students are so, so lucky! They have received so many wonderful things just from me setting up projects of things that they need in the classroom.

We will be receiving 2 Chromebooks for our classroom to complete our technology station. Right now I have 3 computers and one kindle that is my personal from home that the students can use. We have an iPad cart, but we share it with 6 different classes. Our state tests are on the iPads and we do not ever get enough time to practice! This project being funded helps get 6 kids on technology at a time! Seriously awesome stuff. Again, if you have not signed up for this site, you are seriously missing out.

Another time Donorschoose has done amazing things for my classroom was this year as well! We received a cd player and tape player so the kids could listen to books on tape. Last year I received tons of books for my 6th graders and then a huge fund was done at the end of the year by Inspirus Credit Union out in Seattle. Some seriously amazing and generous folks out there – people who really want to help teachers, students and schools in their communities be successful. I received a rug, book shelves, mailboxes, math supplies, books, book bins to separate them, and so much more. It was a joyous occasion.

I cannot stress enough that if you are a teacher, you need to be on this website. Just take the chance and set it up – it costs you nothing and there is a chance of some very generous people to help you out.

Go for it!

SOL: Holiday Door Decorating at School

Every year we always have a wonderful time decorating for the holidays and what we can and can’t put up and who has the best bulletin board.  

Being at my school now, we have taken the door decorating to a whole new level and done hallway decorating. Little to no learning goes on this week before break because we are decorating hallways. Most people would shame us for this but the kids need it. For the next two weeks, most of them will be sitting home doing nothing, talking to no one, and maybe not having food since they only eat at school. Letting them have some fun and see healthy completion always allows for fun. 

In the public school in New York we were not allowed to decorate. Just neutral decorations but only on a bulletin board. 

Did you decorate ? are you able to ?

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