Thursday, July 25, 2013

Trying to make homework easier (for me). . .

and more meaningful for them!

Throughout my years teaching how I've done homework has changed drastically.  In the beginning, I would give long lengthy assignments in both reading and math.  Then check it the next day within the block which would take 15 minutes because I would check to see if they did it then go over it with them.

The passed few years I would just give a worksheet for math and one for reading on either the skill they've done that day or previously, and sometimes a new skill.  Last year, I started doing more at home/school assignments over a few weeks.  But finding the time within the day to check it was becoming more difficult.

This year I've created a homework calendar for each month, because research has shown that they ability in reading or math doesn't improve a noticeable amount with homework and that it is more important for that family time at home or doing other activities.  And if you think about it, when the parents get home (5 or 6) there's dinner, family time, getting ready for bed, soccer, etc... life.  And now that Susie (my daughter) is almost going to be in school, I can't imagine having to get all that done before bed time, which is 8:30.

But on the other hand, I think it is important for them to be responsible for something and to keep their mind sharp so TA DA the homework calendar.  Monday through Wednesday is a math word problem aligned with what they are learning at that time in the curriculum.  Thursday is a reading response question because reading 20 minutes a night is VERY important! I will check their math question first thing in the block and discuss it as an activator or transition to get ready for math thinking.  On Friday, I will collect their homework journal, read them and pass back on Monday.

Oh, did I tell you I am gluing them inside those small soft composition notebooks to be their homework journals.  No worksheets to lose, no waste of paper.  I hate wasting paper!  Next project is how to go a week without making new last minute copies, or no worksheets at all, just what's in the room.  But that's another post.  I am still trying to figure out how to implement my "Save the Planet One Teacher at a Time."  We use so much paper!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First Post Ever!!

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Hey all,

This is my first post!  I've been following so many of the other popular teacher blogs that I was hesitant to start my own since I didn't know what my own voice would be in this new world I've discovered.

To begin with, I've been teaching for 7 years in third grade and this will be my first year in fourth.  I am uber excited and a little overwhelmed.  I am a very hard worker but don't do anything if it doesn't serve a purpose or function.  I like pretty but not just for the sake of pretty, I want it to be used and meaningful.  I am very organized and like things to have a place, it just makes my day to day so much smoother.  I love to share my ideas and help others whenever I can.  I hope that I can contribute to all the other wonderful ideas and collaboration that is taking place daily!  I don't want to repeat anything else you've seen, I want it to be original or a new take on an old or already used idea.  I tweak things all the time that I see and try to make it better or tailored for what I need.

So for my first recommendation:

PAINT PENS!  I thought every teacher knew of these but my colleague saw me using them and had never heard of them.  Sharpie makes them in really pretty bright colors which I love.

They are amazing and I use them to label everything from my sterlite drawers to clipboards because if I want or need to change it, it easily comes off (only on plastic) 

I also don't like to toss something that is in great condition just because it doesn't fit my theme or isn't uniform with all my other things.  

For example, binders.  We all love those white or black ones with the clear slide in pockets so we can label them and such.  Well, I have a ton that don't have those pockets or aren't white or black so how do you label them and make them pretty?  Paint pens!  I've used them on many binders so I don't just toss them, and I don't spend my hard earned and limited money on a new one.  

I don't like spending money on something I already have even if it doesn't "fit."  I get creative and make it fit.