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The ongoing journey of a first grade teacher...
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Thoughts on Comprehension

Posted 07-10-2011 at 06:11 PM by tangerine

I'm reading Comprehension From the Ground Up by Sharon Taberski. I'm right in the thick of it, and will have to go back a second time to take planning notes for next school year. This first time through I am just trying to soak it in and think about it.

I keep coming back to a couple of thoughts.

One is that Sharon really emphasizes slowing down, being choosy about what we do, and doing what we choose to do...very well. I like that. In the age of NCLB and Race to the Top, we keep cramming more and more in. My VicePrince ended our school year by talking to us about the new schedule - extended day, shorter recess, etc. She also discussed the dreaded "down time" and how we need to eliminate that. We're making lists of time wasters and streamlining how we teach procedures all in an effort to find more instructional time to fit more in to the day.

I'm all for more instructional time. BUT. I am not all for making the day even more...
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Ten Reasons to March on Washington

Posted 07-02-2011 at 07:33 PM by tangerine

Ten Reasons Why I am Marching on Washington on July 30 with Save our Schools

1. I want kids to have a rich, developmentally appropriate curriculum taught by dedicated, highly-qualified teachers who love what they do. I want teachers with good instincts and the ability to think on their feet versus teachers who will follow a script and make sure things "look good" when administrators visit. Learning is messy and a bit chaotic. I was teachers who relish some mess and chaos and know what to do with a teachable moment. Those teachable moments rarely have a scripted anticipatory set, people.

2. I don't want kids to be tested to death. Kids under 9 don't even standardized-test reliably. Yet, we do it. When a teacher suggests to an administrator or politician in the age of AYP and NCLB that standardized quarterly testing of primary-aged students does not provide any valuable data to inform our instruction - said administrator or politician blinks,...
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Oh Where Have You Been, Tangerine?

Posted 07-16-2010 at 01:10 PM by tangerine

I've been a bad, bad girl. I haven't been here posting as I'd planned. I'm teaching still...summer school. It's only 1/2 days, but it's the 1/2 of day that you'd really be teaching (basically, no planning time, no lunch, no recess, no morning announcements, that sortof thing). So, content wise, it's still heavy. Not to mention we're working with kids who really need the help. I'm loving the small group, though...with lots of time for reading groups and one-on-one conferencing. I can only imagine how much learning could happen if I had such a small group all year instead of the typical 24 or so that I get with no aide. Oh yes...that's the other thing great about summer school. We even get an aide for 1/2 an hour each day who comes to help with reading groups. So cool.

But, I'm looking forward to the end of next week and the chance to finally really be on break for a little while. My one concern with taking the summer school assignment (we need the money...)...
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Not a Team Player?

Posted 06-12-2010 at 05:50 PM by tangerine

Our AP pulled me aside and said indirectly to me that I was not being a team player by questioning her demand that we add 30 minutes of something to our schedule each day. It's really an hour she asked for, but we were already doing 30 minutes of the one thing -so there's 30 minutes left that she wants that we currently don't have in our schedule.

The thing is........I already have full teaching days. I don't have 30 minutes laying around. I just asked in our team leader meeting what I should drop to add this 30 minutes.

Apparently that was too negative.

Grrr. Now I am feeling really negative!

I submitted my grade level's proposal to her. I'll be interested to hear what she things of our justification for where the 30 minutes comes from.

Jeesh.

It's just classic for administration to expect teachers to add components to their day and never take anything away.

What do they think...
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I Survived a Class Field Trip

Posted 05-20-2010 at 06:54 PM by tangerine

"I Survived A Class Field Trip"

I need that made into a button or a bumper sticker or something.

The field trip really did go off without a hitch, but as always I went home exhausted. I am still not fully recovered a day later. The kids had a wonderful time, though. We did writing about the field trip today and it was a rousing success with enthusiastic stories about big tractors and picking berries and feeding goats. For the most part, I was pleased with the writing, too. I don't generally give topics, preferring instead that the kids write about what they choose to write about, but we have been discussing main idea and so my direction was to write something about the trip and to stick to one main idea with supporting sentences. Other than a couple of my students who are developmentally not as far along with their writing, I got interesting stories and lots of supporting sentences for their "big idea" as we put it.

...
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Shopping at the Teacher Store

Posted 04-09-2010 at 02:14 PM by tangerine

I ventured in to the local teacher store today. It's something I rarely do because it's dangerous in there! There's always something I see that I want for my classroom. Spending $20 soon turns into $40 and then $50 and so on. Dangerous, I tell you!

But my DH had given me a gift certificate for the store back at Christmas. I have been a good girl and saved it. Today the boychild was gone for the day and the DH was at work and I had time to myself. Perfect time for the teacher's store!

I love roaming isle to isle and checking out everything. I saw some cool new games out there and picked up an "I Have...Who Has?" about place value. The kids will love that. I also replenished my supply of little things that I go through a lot of during the year - either at the beginning or throughout - like stickers for the behavior calendars and nameplates and labels and border and such. I got what I need to make a new batch of word books, too. Rather than...
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Tag Team Reading Groups

Posted 04-07-2010 at 03:30 PM by tangerine

I am trying hard to be on Spring Break and not spend all of my time thinking about my students. I can get fixated, which is good for my teaching but not so good for the rest of my life.

A good teacher DOES need to be well rounded.

So the hubby and I took the boychild and his buddy to the local amusement park yesterday and had a great time. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous!

I had broken my toe the day before - so the walking was a challenge, but I did okay.

Today my mind is swirling again with thoughts of my students and how to approach reading groups when we get back from break. I am thrilled with the progress I see in many of my kids. One in particular who was basically at a preschool level in her literacy walk has made great strides and I'm just so proud of her. She is a reader now - albiet at a very early stage. Her eyes shine now when we read a book together and she can make sense of the words. She carries...
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Spring Has Sprung

Posted 04-03-2010 at 06:12 PM by tangerine

Spring Break! Spring Break! Gotta love it!

I slept in this morning until 10:00 a.m. I did manage to do a few loads of laundry and the grocery shopping and sweep the hardwood floors.

The kidlets were hyped yesterday, but they were good. It was an insane day with three big things going on one right after another. The time flew by.

We were told that purchasing is changing this year and I have until the end of the month to turn in the textbook inventory and list what our needs are for the grade level next year. Ack. This is not a good time. I don't want to have to think about that stuff yet. I'm still trying to build readers and writers here, people. I have kids I'm worried about.

Not to mention that 3/4 of the stuff we asked for last year never arrived. Perhaps if the items came in on time....or even at all.....I would feel more enthusiastic about doing it again.

Today was lovely. I love the feeling...
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Wow! I have a blog!

Posted 03-30-2010 at 04:01 PM by tangerine

What a surprise!

I hadn't expected to get a blog. I think it was over a year ago that I originally requested one. After some months went by, I figured it just wasn't an option anymore.

I'm the lead first grade teacher at a big elementary school in a small town in Virginia. Where I'm from is a bigger city with lots of small elementary schools, so this was an adjustment.

I love my job, though. First grade is the perfect place for me. I feel blessed to have a supportive Prince/VicePrince team and to have a beautiful school.

Spring is a weird time of year for educators. At least for me it is. My focus is split between getting the kids in my care to where they need to be so that they're ready to advance to the next grade level and to prepare for next year and the new batch of kids. It's the time where administration expects us to decide what needs ordered. It's the time where changes to the curriculum are being made to go...


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