Category Archives: Middle School
I’m well into my second course of my MSED! As I suspected, time is going faster than ever before. Report cards are almost ready to go home and parent-teacher interviews are on Thursday and Friday of this week. It’s incredible that we’ve gotten to this point in the school year already.
I am enjoying my Master’s program even more than I expected. However, it has been a huge adjustment - I feel like I don’t have enough time to get everything done that needs to be done. Working full time, having 2 children, my MSED work, and maintaining some time for “fun” has been a balancing act. I’m trying to make it work, though.
I have been reading LOTS since I started this program in September. I am reading for my course work but I have also been reading beyond that as well. That is one thing that this Master’s program has sparked in me, already. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. Even though I don’t really have the time, I’ve been doing more professional reading over the last two months than ever in my career – by choice! I can’t help it!
One book that I am currently reading is not for my course work for my own information – Age of Opportunity, by Laurence Steinberg. It basically challenges many myths that we currently hold about adolescence and offers insight into the science behind why adolescents act the way that they do. As a grade 7 and 8 teacher, so many times I have found myself thinking, “Why did he do that? Why would she take that risk? Didn’t he consider what would happen based on that choice?” In his book, Steinberg offers new insight into the science of adolescence. But, the best part is that it doesn’t read like a boring text book! Yes, it contains information on neuroscience but in a way that is very easy to understand and digest. He includes great, real life examples, scenarios, and ancedotes making it easy to relate to, as well.
My own boys are only 4 and 7, but the teen years will be here before I know it! Steinberg offers an entire chapter for parents and how they can help their adolescents most effectively. There are tons of ideas that I have to go back to when my own kiddos hit this period in their lives. What really hit home, though, was the recommendations for educators. Steinberg definitely has some interesting suggestions such as spending less money and time on classroom based health education as it seems to glean little in the way of results. He also suggests preparing adolescents for psychological demands of college, not just the academic ones.
Working toward my Master’s has been a huge adjustment. I have less time for myself than ever before, I have huge commitments of course work – reading and writing. However, there’s also so much considering and thinking that I have been doing. If I wasn’t doing my Master’s I probably would not have been considering my teenage learners and how their brains work, and I wouldn’t have picked up Age of Opportunity. However, I am so glad that I am on this journey of life long learning. Yes, I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true! I’ve been reading lots of great books lately and this is just one of them. However, it’s also the kind of book that I know I’ll go back to in the future. If you own or teach adolescents, you should check into Age of Opportunity!
I have been working really hard this year to try to differentiate a bit more effectively for my students. Last year I looked into Guided Math, and although I loved the way it sounded, I know that I fell short of actually following through with my well-intended plan. As part of a Master’s assignment this year, I actively started incorporating more small group time for guided practice into my classroom. Honestly, I can already feel the shift. The things that I thought would happen (a bunch of hands up in the air as I try to help those in the group) haven’t really been an issue, yet. Those who need help are with me and those who do not are able to move along and complete their work. It’s actually kind of simple. I also established some anchor activities for students to choose from when they do complete their work. I haven’t worked out all of the kinks, but knowing that I’m going to get to more students more quickly makes me feel as though I am teaching more authentically! If you don’t do much “guided practice” after your initial lesson, try it! For a week or two, try to build in more time to work with students in a small group. And keep it simple! Right now, I have it established that after my mini-lesson anyone who feels that they would like to work through a few more examples can join me at the back table. The students CHOOSE to come. What I love MOST is when the students who choose to join are the ones whom I was worried would be acting up and making it difficult for me to teach. They are CHOOSING to come back and work through examples with me. I still have a few students that I’d like to see join me at the back, however, I will give them time to decide if they need my help or not. If they should be going through more examples with me, I will ask them to join the group as well. I’m playing this part by ear, so far. What I’m also really happy about, is that my small group time has been with many different students. Initially I was scared that there may be a negative stigma attached to coming to the small group for more guided practice. However, this has not been the case. This small change to my teaching practice this year has been amazing and I’m looking forward to really harnessing the power of small group instruction.
As a part of this week’s assignment for my course I found a great blog post on Math Puzzle Apps and another on Incorporating Games into the Classroom . Math games and puzzles are simple options to use as anchor activities for students when they have finished the assigned work for the day. They keep the kids engaged while you can continue to work with those students who need your help.
I haven’t checked out all of the Math Apps in the article yet, but it’s on my to-do list for later this week!
Do you have any great Math Apps for middle school that don’t require internet? Please share if you do! I’m always on the lookout!
I have news! So, my school won the Aviva Community Fund competition a few months ago (kind of proud of that) which funded our Playground for All project. Monday morning, the next round of voting begins for new projects, and CTV News will be at our school in Souris, PEI to launch this next round of new projects and voting for Aviva. Pretty exciting! If you tune in on Monday morning, you may see us! The Aviva Community Fund competition is such an amazing opportunity to get projects funded and there are so many worthy causes – here is one project that will be looking for your votes in this new round: Autism Ontario, Niagara needs help to support parents. If you have a project that needs to be funded, and you’re in Canada, it’s definitely worth checking out the submission process, so long as you are committed to doing the hard work that needs to be done to get your project to the end and come out a winner!
As I gaze out at this beautiful August afternoon, I can’t help but wonder what kind of a year I will have. I feel like I’m standing in the line-up to ride a really scary roller coaster. I want to ride, even though it’s scary because I know that it’s also going to be exhilarating and I know I’ll love it. I’m sick of waiting and I just want it to be my turn already!
I’m always excited to begin a new school year, and this year is no different in that way, but very different in many other ways. I am in our new/renovated K-12 school – a huge change what with a new build and combined staffs. And, I’ll be starting my Master’s in just days. I know it’s going to be a year of changes, flexibility and stress, but also one of learning and growth. We go back on Tuesday and the kids come on Thursday, and I’m going to enjoy this last weekend, but I’m very much looking forward to my turn on the roller coaster!
That being said….
I need to start this year on the right foot – with a Back to School Giveaway, of course! And this is going to be a great one! I have ONE “grand prize” that will be given out to one lucky teacher and it could be you!
In total, the prizes are valued at approximately $200, depending on your choices from my TPT Store and your choice of wall decal.
A little more about the prizes…
5 TPT Items
Get browsing! I have lots of resources in my TPT store and the winner will get to choose any FIVE of them. I’ll simply email them the files that they choose!
Lunch Thermal – the perfect lunch bag! You’ll be eating in style this year, for sure! (No monogramming on your lunch bag)
Wall Decal From Wise Decor
You have your choice of 3 wall decals! (I can’t wait to get mine up in my new classroom, and I’ll be sure to post a picture when I do.) You can choose your size and colors to totally personalize your wall decal. And, they go on looking like paint – no see-through film like some of the cheaper versions of wall decals. Your three choices are: a Student Encouragement Wall Decal, Classroom Rules Modern Wall Decal or a Whimsical Classroom Rules Wall Decal. They are pictured below – but keep in mind that you can personalize your colors to match your room!
The Red Sun – A great read for your classroom this year
“The Red Sun is the first book in The Legends of Orkney, the spellbinding series of adventure fantasy novels by Alane Adams. It follows Sam to the realm of Orkney where witches, wraiths, and other menacing creatures cause serious peril to the unsuspecting Sam. Now, it’s up to him to save his friends and all of Orkney from a cursed red sun. Can a young witch girl named Mavery help him?”
The fantasy genre is so hot right now – the kids love it! What grabbed my attention about this book right off the bat was its accessibility to my boys, especially. Within just the first 2 pages, we learn that the main character Sam is a self-professed “non-hero”. He’s not perfect, his family is not perfect, he’s disconnected from his father, he has a temper and sometimes gets into fights. I know that certain students in particular will relate to his imperfections and the fact that he’s “real” just like them. The action starts within the first chapter really, and definitely is underway by chapter two. I feel that this element is super beneficial to my more reluctant readers who find it difficult to “hang in there” and continue to read to get to the “good part” of some texts. There’s conflict essentially from the beginning and that paired with a mysterious new teacher with an attitude, and a dwarf in his garage, you can’t help but be hooked into learning more about Sam and what’s really going on in his life. This would be a great first read, for students new to the fantasy genre!
I think your students will truly enjoy “The Red Sun” and it’ll be a wonderful addition to your classroom library.
I wish you all a wonderful school year with your students! Thanks for entering my Back to School Giveaway, good luck to you all! Feel free to share my post with your teacher friends!
I’ve been thinking about it off and on for the last 4 or 5 years and the timing was just never right. Well, I have jumped in and am very proud to announce that I’ll be beginning my Master’s of Education on September 2nd. That also happens to be my first day back at school. Gulp. And to complicate things further, it happens to be our first year in a new/renovated K-12 building. I haven’t been in the school yet this summer (usually my classroom would be half set up by now) because the school (including my classroom) is not yet finished! Double gulp? I know what you’re saying, and THIS is good timing? No, not really. But, what I have decided is that there will never be a perfect time. That, I know for sure.
I have no idea what all of this means for my blogging life – I’m hoping that it’s not over, but I know that my full time job as a grade 7 and 8 teacher and my course work commitments are going to pretty intense. Only time will tell, I guess!
So, a little bit about my program, it’s completely online through Walden University. It’s an accelerated program and I’ll complete it in 16 months! Yay! I’ll be done next Christmas – that’s pretty amazing to me! Finally, it’s a Master’s of Science Education in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (K-12). The courses sound awesome, practical and like I’ll actually be able to use my course work to enhance the achievement of my students “in real time” not just in theory or down the road. There are courses on designing curriculum for learning, differentiating instruction, assessment, teaching students with learning disabilities, and motivating students -among other things. I truly am excited to be starting this journey! So, if I happen to drop off the face of the blogging planet – you’ll know where I am, and I will be back. Wish me luck!
Anyone who’s been thinking about a Master’s program – just apply. Don’t wait for a perfect time – it’ll never happen. Just take the plunge. You’ll never finish if you don’t first begin! So take the steps to begin! If you want any information on the program or school that I have chosen, just comment below and we can have a chat. They have made the process so easy for me and I can’t wait to get going on my journey. I’m really glad that I’ve taken this first step.
If you want help with organizing your writing program and teaching genres of writing more effectively, I HIGHLY recommend,Write Genre, The: Classroom Activities and Mini-Lessons That Promote Writing with Clarity, Style, and Flashes of Brilliance. I WISH that I had found it at the beginning of last year, as improving writing instruction in my classroom was something that I actively worked on. Better late than never, I suppose!
I love this book for a few reasons:
1. Very readable and practical with lessons that I can take and use NOW
2. Suggestions are provided for assessment (6 Traits of writing)
3. It covers Personal Memoir, Fictional Narrative, Informational Writing, Opinion Pieces, Procedural Writing, Poetry and Multi-Genre chapters – basically everything I need to teach in Grade 7 LA!
It’s a perfect fit for me, and the curriculum that I am expected to teach. Although I really like our relatively new resources in Grade 7 for Language Arts, I find that they do lack in writing, which is why I was working more on it last year (and why I wish I had found this book LAST summer – would have saved me bunches of time)!
If you have been looking for help with teaching writing, I strongly suggest having a look at this resource! I am so lucky to have such a great staff – someone recommended it and we were even able to purchase multiple copies for other staff who were interested (that’s how I ended up finding the book- lucky, I know).
Do you have any titles or websites to share that assist with writing in the classroom? I’m always looking for great mentor texts (of what to do or what not to do in a piece) and student samples! Please comment if you have some to share!
Just bought these for next year at Scholar’s Choice and even though I probably overpaid, these clips are exactly what I’ve been looking for to organize my paperwork. My desk is not always the neatest, and I really think that these fancy shmancy clips may do the trick! I know how crafty some of you are and it would be so simple to “bedazzle” a couple of plain clips for your own needs. I bought 2 sets of 2″ clips, but I think I’ll try giving some of my plain clips a facelift with some snazzy new labels – for classes/subject/permission slips etc. I also think that the “To Be Filed” clip may be a little dangerous for me… Again, showing my nerdiness to be excited about binder clips (in July, no less) but I have never seen these before and I think that they just may save my organizational life
It’s the little things that make you happy – and also
make you realize confirm that you are a bit of a nerd. I get to take on more math next year, having grade 7 and 8 math classes as well as being a support person in one of those classrooms. To have this new curriculum guide and text home with me this summer just makes me smile (I will also continue to teach LA, as well).
Math is my favorite and always has been, and so I’m very excited to think about how I may engage and teach my students – the students that I just said good-bye to in grade 7. Won’t they be surprised to see me, again! Hopefully it will be a happy surprise! What I am most excited about, is the fact that there is a new project coming into place in September for grade 7 and 8 math. It includes a “boot camp” package of materials and a lot of emphasis is put on having basic numeracy skills before getting started with the actual grade level curriculum. Every year kids come in who don’t yet know how to multiply or divide, don’t understand place value or fractions etc. This boot camp should help to fill some of those gaps with direct instruction on these skills and so I’m excited that it’s actually built in to our year plan! A pacing guide was given to us as well, and an example of one of four formative assessments that we will have access to next year to make sure that our students are grasping the foundational learnings that have been identified as most important for the grade level. It just all seems so organized and I love the sound of anything that may work better than what I did the previous year, so I’m in!
I say again, Yay! More Math!
How do you feel about your assignment for next year? Or, are you still waiting?
Keeping students engaged (especially middle school students) can be a challenge to say the least. Here’s a no prep idea that you can try in that last month, or on those last few days of school to tame the chaos!
Have your students write a letter to themselves in the future – for their “high school graduation”. What would they say to themselves? What advice would they give themselves? What do they imagine themselves doing? What are the next steps that they are about to take in their lives? What challenges could they remind themselves of (things they’ve already persevered through) or fun times that they’ve had, but may not have thought about in years? What inspirational words would they share?
As an extension, students could also create a collage or piece of artwork of what they hope for themselves in the future.
If you’re in a situation where it would be possible to actually give these letters back to students on their grade 12 graduation night, how cool would that be?
Thanks for stopping by! Have fun with the rest of the hop!