The Literacy Spot: Week Four

The Literacy Spot, weekly tips on helping their fifth graders with writing and reading at home. This is what will be sent home to families in this weeks classroom newsletter.

How do you keep up communication with your students' families? Please let me know in the comments below. Until next time ...

Praying Psalms 27

You can read Psalms 27 here on Bible Gateway.

My Jesus is simple, my Jesus is as big as it is far from the East to the West, my Jesus never ceases

With Jesus, I can be confident in all that I do

no need to be full of anxiety and worry about my life

Troubles will draw near, problems will arise and people that do not have me and my family in their best interest will show up

In time all will come to pass

I can stand strong

even tho all that is around me is falling apart

I can be still

when all that is around me is hurried and rushed

This one Thing I Do

Is to know my Jesus

This one Thing I Do

Is to sit at His feet and listen

At the foot of the cross is where I can escape from all the chaos and all the noise

At the foot of the cross is where I can slip away from the disorganization and clutter

Jesus lifts me up when others try to bring me down

When I am in a relationship with my Jesus I can rejoice and be glad in Him

The Literacy Spot: Week Three

I have created The Literacy Spot, weekly tips on helping their fifth graders with writing and reading at home. This is what will be sent home to families in next week's classroom newsletter.

How do you keep up communication with your students' families? Please let me know in the comments below.

Until next time ...

Student Teaching Reflection Week 2: January 14th - 18th

Week 2 is in the books! This was a short week, as I had to travel out of town Wednesday and Thursday to take my Middle School Praxis Examinations. Yet, with only 2.5 days in the classroom I found that I accomplished a lot!

Monday - 
      Today, I began taking attendance, completing morning announcements, and leading them through the pledge of allegiance. As I sat at the teachers desk entering lunches and absences in power school as our students began their morning meeting, I experienced a moment of nerdiness, squealing on the inside LOOK AT ME BEING ALL TEACHERY! 
      Since my reading group during intervention will not begin until next week week 4, I observed my CT in her group as she worked with the students on building vocabulary and strategies to use to assist them in understanding a word when it is unfamiliar to them. 
During Language Arts, the students began a lesson on Making Inferences, you can read about this lesson here
     I led the students through number corner and had them make observations of patterns in the calendar days, make a prediction based on what they have seen so far, and then create an equation that represented what was on the days card. Then I observed my mentor teacher lead them in a activity 
     After-school, I attended my first staff meeting. The principal discussed a few district wide future happenings and then the school nurse led us through a training in Medical Care Plans. I found this to very informative and a great way to open up a discussion between my mentor teacher and I about emergency procedures. After the meeting, we went back into our classroom and she showed we where to find the emergency folder, the students' medical care plans, and our first aid. She laid out the plan for fire drills; however, she was not aware of the procedure for a lock-down at this school. Since, she has only been at this elementary for this school year, she has not participated in one.

What I Wore Day 6
Things To Do:
  • Differentiation Accommodation Form
  • Reflection on Faculty Meeting
  • What are the schools lock-down procedure?
  • Can I attend the Leader in Me Family Night (during Seminar next week)?
  • What time should schedule my observation with University Supervisor?
Tuesday -
     Half day for me, as I will headed to Boise for my testing. One of the students made me a card and they all wished me luck before I headed out of the classroom. In the morning, I completed the same as yesterday and observed/participated in the Language Arts lesson. Since there is not much to reflect on at school, I thought I would share a little bit about home. 

     A major focus on my time during my pre-internship was to find balance between home and school, in preparation for student teaching and my career as a teacher. One way that assists me is waking up early to ease myself into my day. This begins with my cup of coffee and reading from a devotional or bible. My spiritual health is being nurtured here which gives me clear focus and a solid foundation in starting my day right.

Another thing that starts my day right is a morning breakfast smoothie! Ever since my Behavior Change Project, breakfast almost has been an everyday habit. Now that I am consistently running out the door at the same time each morning, I have been drinking my breakfast on the way to school. My smoothie base is typically Slim Fast Vanilla Creme Protein Mix. I combine this with frozen fruit, coconut milk, and ice. I am amazed at how well they taste and how it keeps me fueled until lunch. I do however try to have a small snack during first recess. 

Pictured here is my inspirational wall above my desk. This special spot is where I am able to focus on my school work and my writing. My work area has been a work in progress for awhile, I am absolutely loving how it is turning out!

What I Wore Day 7
Friday -
The students were welcoming with open arms and ready to have me back in the classroom today!
While I was gone, the students wrote about inferences about a story they read. My mentor teacher saw many students forgot to use specific evidence from the story on their paper. So today, we looked at another picture and discussed the evidence they observed which assisted them toward their inference. Then the students discussed where they went wrong on their individual writings. I found this to be a great learning experience for the students and allowed them to see their mistakes so they can do better next time! As they say, FAIL - first attempt in learning. Making mistakes is a necessary component in learning a new concept. 
Feet Up Friday #2
Until next time ...

JellyTelly Board Books & Coloring Books!

I am so very excited to share with you some new board books and coloring books brought to us by some of my favorite people! Buck Denver asks What's in the Bible? presents: God Made the World, God Made Night & Day, God Made the Animals, and God Made Me; all with Clive & Ian. As a childcare provider at my church growing up I was introduced to Veggie Tales and passed on my love for them with my own children. The makers of Veggie Tales created the video series, What's in the Bible? and I have had the opportunity to review some new board books and coloring books that will be valuable to homes of young children and the Sunday School classroom.

Each board book is a short story about the various creations that God made in Genesis 1. I found the stories to be very relatable and a lot of fun to tell. Rather than sharing the words of the bible with young children, author Hannah C. Hall shares a narrative between Clive & Ian to share scripture. In addition, bright and beautiful full page illustrations make the conversation come alive to those listening to the story read to them or assist young readers in reading the story on their own!

The back pages of the book shares a parent connection to assist adults in helping kids know the love of God, Grow in God's love, and Show God's love to others. It also directs readers and adults to visit for more family fun.

Image: Hachette Book Group
God made the world and everything in it! Brothers Clive & Ian go on a picnic and discover that God created the whole world for us to enjoy.

Image: Hachette Book Group

There was a moon and there was a sun and it was good! Brothers Clive & Ian go on a camping trip and discover that God made the sun and moon, darkness and light, day and night!

Image: Hachette Book Group
Gigantic animals, teeny-tiny animals, soft furry animals, shiny animals that crawl-God made them all. Brothers Clive & Ian visit the zoo and discover that God created each amazing animal perfectly unique!

Image: Hachette Book Group
I am special because God made ME. Clive helps his brother Ian learn that he is special because God made him!

From the bestselling video series Buck Denver Asks…What’s in the Bible? comes a new series of fun, easy-to-read board books designed just for preschoolers. Written by bestselling children’s book author, Hannah Hall, the series features charming illustrations and helps parents teach their children about God’s Creation and His love for them.

These timeless stories are perfect for board books as they will be able to last for many years to share with all of your children or multiple readings in your Sunday School classroom. These books are available to purchase $8.99 (U.S.) and $11.99 (CAN).

Image: Hachette Book Group
Color your way through well-known Old Testament & New Testament Bible stories and bring the journey of Jesus and his disciples to life at the kitchen table! This coloring book contains Bible stories and scripture on every page to enhance your child’s coloring adventure through God’s story. Featuring beloved characters from the bestselling video series Buck Denver Asks…What’s in the Bible?, this collection is sure to bring hours of fun and connection for your family.

Image: Hachette Book Group
I have a rating system I use for those books I have read and reviewed on my blog, you may check it out here. I have given these books five cups, I love them a latte!
I would like to thank both Hachette Book Group and FirstWords for sending me the board books and coloring books in exchange for my honest review! I read this book as a part of my #ReadtheRainbow Reading Challenge, inspired by Donalyn Miller. My goal is to read at least one children's literature book from various genres every weekday and share my thoughts here on my blog. Please feel free to subscribe or connect with me on social media to follow my journey through the books I read. Until next time ...

The Literacy Spot: Week Two

The Literacy Spot, weekly tips on helping their fifth graders with writing and reading at home. This is what will be sent home to families in this weeks classroom newsletter. I have provided an activity for our local library, this is a great way to connect students and their families to the library in your community! The public library is such an incredible resource all year round.

How do you keep up communication with your students' families? Please let me know in the comments below.

Until next time ...

Scaffolding a Making Inferences Lesson

inference - an idea or conclusion that's drawn from evidence and reasoning. An inference is an educated guess.
 Common Core: TF.E.5.ELA.LI.01 - Reading Literature - Make inferences using the text as evidence - Literature
Early this week, I had the opportunity to observe and participate in a making inferences lesson at my student teaching placement. The students immediately bought into the lesson from the very moment and stayed engaged throughout the process, I knew that I needed to share what the students and I learned.

First, my mentor teacher passed out a chart that they could stick inside of their dry erase boards. She uses a page protector so that they can have a blank piece of paper to write freely or put in a paper for multiple uses. Since they use them at number corner, I would like to have a clipboard handy to help them write on a flat hard surface rather than on the floor or using their hand to hold it steady. 

Here is a similar chart, I created in google documents:

Then she simply explained that when we see or hear something we often make inferences. They are made when we observe something and combine it with our past learning experiences to come to a conclusion about what is happening. Then she let them know that they will be watching a short Disney Pixar clip and they will make inferences based on what they see and hear. The first one they completed together.

My mentor teacher chose the clip, Partly Cloudy:

She played the first one minute and thirty seconds of the Pixar short. Then when they were able to see the blue cloud (different from the other clouds) she paused and asked the students what they observed in the clip so far. Some students directly went to making an inference, but she wanted them to focus on the observations first: who, what, and when. For example: since they are unable to see sadness, she wants them to focus on seeing blue or a frown. After a discussion of what they saw and what they already know (when I am sad, I often frown) they began to make inferences; the blue cloud at the bottom is sad and lonely.

She then had them watch another portion of the Pixar short and then paused it at 2:17 and the students were asked to fill out the chart with their partner. Then as a class they discussed observations, what they already know, and what inferences are made based on these.

The final pause was made at 4:07 where the students first filled out their chart individually and then shared with their partner. As a class, they shared a few ideas from their charts and conversations with their partners. To conclude, they watched the final portion of the Pixar short and discussed how their inferences were similar and/or different from the last scene. They also discussed how the inferences changed from beginning, middle, and end.

This video and discussion took more time than my mentor teacher expected and used some of their science time to complete the video. When she made this announcement the students cheered! This was surprising, because they often want to finish their language lesson quickly as science is their absolute favorite portion of the day.

Day 2. My mentor teacher asked the students to remind her what an inference was and how we create them. After the quick review, she stated that they would be making inferences on what they saw on a picture. She chose to use the optical illusions of the old lady/young lady and the bunny/duck. The students were to first write on their chart by themselves and then share with their partner. Then they shared as a whole group what observations they made and by what they knew or what they had experiences with they made a conclusion to what was seen in the picture.

My mentor teacher made sure to let the students know that there was no right or wrong answer as long as the students had evidence to back up their claims. The conversation made an exciting turn when those who only saw one thing to begin with began to see what the other students saw. They began to use words that showed the understanding of individual perspectives changing the view in which they saw in the images. This made an easy transition to the final portion of the lesson, a small passage.

My mentor teacher explained that now they understood how to make inferences, they were to switch to coming up with inferences based on context clues rather than pictures.  The students were ready and they quickly began using the skills they learned with the Pixar short and the illusions to answer the questions the text provided. The passage was taken from the Wonders curriculum and the students were to read about two characters. Based on what they read, they were to determine the first characters job and the second characters relationship to the first character. Again, it was told that there were no wrong answers as long as the students used evidence to support their conclusion.  

The students had a variety of responses with supporting facts. They did an incredible job! Today, they will be completing a writing exercise that allows them to show us what they learned by reading a portion of text and responding to the questions with the inferences they make. I am sure they will be extremely successful with this assignment and I am looking forward to reading their responses. 

How have you taught inferences in the classroom? Please share in the comments below. Until next time ...

Student Teaching Reflection Week 1: January 7th - 11th

Here we Go!
Monday -
          First day of student teaching! Mornings are super quick, students place bags/coats away and then sit down while my mentor teacher takes attendance. She writes down those who are not here and then crosses them off as they walk in. Then it's the morning announcement on video (completed by students) and the pledge of allegiance. Students head to the back of the room for morning meeting while she enters the attendance in power-school. When finished, she joins the students in the circle.
Today, is the first day back from break, so the fifth grade team decided to opt out of reading intervention today that begins right after morning meeting. Instead, my mentor teacher used this time to reconnect with students and remind them of classroom expectations. They updated their behavior matrix (live in Google Docs) that they made during the first week of school.
        Off to specials for the students, through the week the fifth grade team meet with one another, with the instructional coach, or plan/prepare for lessons.
        Teacher lunch is 45 minutes, with students lunch and recess paired together. I felt like I had more than enough time to eat and regroup before the students returned. My mentor teacher stated that she alternates between being sociable in the teacher lounge and working in her room.
        At the end of the day, they wrap it all up in their agendas. All of the students write what my mentor teacher places up on the board while they discuss what they learned that day. Report cards are done and are sent home today, in addition my letter of introduction is sent home to families.

What I Wore Day 1

Things To Do:

  • Schedule Card for Name Tag
  • Make Classroom Seating Chart
  • Demographic Form
  • What is the WiFi password?
  • How do you plan your grammar lessons? Using Wonders or your own?
  • May I have a set of textbooks and/or digital access?
  • What are the roles of paras in your class? What interactions do you have with them?
Tuesday -
       I just love morning meetings! The students are led by a selected student {leadership role} he or she chooses how they will greet one another then each student participates by saying “good morning _________ and then the student replies good morning ________ and then says it to their neighbor. This goes on until everyone has been greeted by their neighbor. Today, I planned on sitting down with them and two of the students said, “Mrs. Cullip, sit here!” (oh happy day) This was very beneficial in getting to know their names and observing their connections with one another. A question is asked by the morning meeting leader and each student shares the answer with his or her neighbor. Names are drawn by the stick picker and they share their answer with the entire class. A student stated, “Today is going to be a good day.” My mentor teacher replied, “Yes, it is (student name)” This is an option when students do not want to share their response or do not have one to share.
     Math was a pleasure to observe today as the students and teacher slowly went through a challenging question together. They spent the entire math block on one problem! Just like I was taught to do in my math methods class. The students were engaged and they were learning about how the numbers worked rather than what the answer was!!

What I Wore Day 2
To Do: 
  • Discuss Timeline of my 13 weeks in the classroom.
  • Add daily schedule to google calendar with notifications

  • How do you handle absences and missed classwork?

Wednesday -
      This morning, my mentor teacher and I met with my university supervisor. She took this opportunity to get to know us, bring us chocolate, and schedule my first two informal observations. January 22nd I will have my Domain 2 Informal Observation and January 29th I will have my Domain 3 Formal Observation. The times will be determined, as we discuss what lessons I will be teaching for these observations.
     During reading intervention, I will have my own small group. During this time, our focus is on reading comprehension. Each day, I read the same story with a different group of students. I found today to go more smoothly as I was fully aware of the story and questions before them. In future weeks, I will read the story ahead of time prior to working with the students.
    During math, I was able to assist a student with her question. After our discussion, she thanked me for taking the time to walk through the question with her and allowed her to make mistakes in order to find the correct answer. I was able to use strategies that I learned in my math methods class. This was a big win for me, remember my original focus when I returned to school was to become a para, as I did not want to complete the math requirements. Then, I leaned toward teaching English and Social Studies in middle school knowing that I would not have to teach math. 

What I Wore Day 3
To Do: 

  • May I complete a section of the weekly newsletter?
Thursday -
      During our planning/ prep period we had a 5th grade team meeting. During this time the five of us discussed upcoming field trips, our bulletin board requirements, recycling, Plan B, Istation testing, spelling bee, and morning duty.. Although it was short, I found it to be very informative. I am so thankful for having open communication with my mentor and the other team members. They have been very helpful to my adjustment of this new role in the classroom. I look forward to learning alongside them this semester.
      I need to remember that everybody learns differently and to remember that everyone perceives things differently. In addition, I need to stop and make sure that the student fully understands my instruction before walking away (even though they state that they understood). While assisting students with questions during individual work in math, there was a communication error between me and a student. Fortunately, I was able to return and assist her after she came up with the incorrect answer and we were able to determine where we both went wrong. The misunderstanding was cleared up and she was able to understand the correct steps to solve the problem and come up with the right answer.
After-school, we attended a 5th grade district meeting. This was a similar meeting to this morning; however, it included 1 to 2 fifth grade teachers from each elementary school. When I walked into the room, it was nice to see a few familiar faces from the IEA! During the meeting we discussed: Wonders testing performance and the resource Countdown to the Common Core; as well as how to best score multiple standards on assignments and assessments to assist us in grading and assist families with understanding the evidence that builds the case for their report cards. There was some bickering among some of the teachers; however, it was quickly cut off by a bit of positivity thrown into the conversation. It is nice to be able to vent for a moment, but a meeting should refrain from going down the negativity spiral. The focus turned to making things better even when there are certain aspects that cannot be changed or controlled. 

What I Wore Day 4
  • When is the next district teacher meeting? (I really found this helpful to my role and would like to attend if I can)

To Do:
Friday - 
     During planning time, we made copies for the following week. My mentor teacher makes sure she has most of the following week planned by this time to avoid “rush hour traffic” in the teachers lounge Friday after-school and Monday before school. I was able to use the electric hole puncher for the first time and I introduced my mentor teacher to my nerdy side when I squealed in delight with how cool it was
Friday schedules are different with no reading intervention to work on Leadership Notebooks (online websites through Google) and no math intervention to work on the 7 Habits and participate in Fun Friday! Today they were notified of their new AR Goal and they worked on their goals for the quarter.
In order for students to participate in Fun Friday they need to complete their work not graded though the week. This gives students extrinsic motivation to complete items such as group work, AR reading, remember to return Monday folders, etc..

What I Wore Day 5


How can I find more about Leader in Me?
What resources do we have to teach the 7 Habits to our students.

Next Week To Do:
Read through Domain 3 in Framework for Teaching
Plan the 15 minute Domain 2 Observation (Number Corner?)

Feet Up Friday - I made it through my first week!
Until next time ...

Praying Psalms 43

Read Psalm 43 on Bible Gateway

Free Me Jesus Keep me from these thoughts and these memories

My Jesus I am safe in your arms. Why do I feel so far away from you

Why do I wallow in bed surrounded by walls of gray?

Shine your light upon me

Put your truth in front of me Let them bring me out of this darkness

Let them guide me to you where I may fall upon your feet

There I will find the joy I will praise your name

Why am I so depressed? Why am I full of anxiety?

I will put my hope my faith and my love in Jesus

I will sing praises to Him once again forever my savior and my friend.

The Literacy Spot: Week One

I asked my mentor teacher to be able to add a piece to the class newsletter to continue family communication throughout my time in the classroom. I have created The Literacy Spot, weekly tips on helping their fifth graders with writing and reading at home.

How do you keep up communication with your students' families? Please let me know in the comments below.

Until next time ...

Relationships & Communication

Just like any relationship, the ones with our students, it should be based on open communication. Since, I have a short time with these students I feel as though this communication should begin as soon as possible.

This last December, I had the opportunity to meet my students before they headed into Christmas Break. At this time, I introduced myself and gave them the opportunity to ask me questions. Then, I passed out a student interest survey entitled A Few Things About Me (a free resource on Teachers Pay Teachers). Naturally, I printed them on red and green Astrobrights and offered them a candy cane once they completed them. This was a great conversation starter, my mentor teacher stated that she even learned a few things about her students.

Over break, I went through each of the surveys and began finding out about the students I will be teaching during my student teaching experience. Then, I created a Google Slide presentation, A Few Things About Mrs. Cullip which provides my personal answers to the questions, as well as a compilation of the students answers. It was neat to see how much they had in common and see what was unique about them.

This was a great activity to begin building relationships and provided me with an artifact for Charlotte Danielson's Domain 1b: Demonstrating Knowledge of Students. I am hoping to be able to share this presentation with the students. Giving them the opportunity to find out a little more about me and their classmates.
Out of the 21 surveyed on December 20th; 10 have a preferred nickname, 10 do not, and 1 has a nickname sometimes.

Top 5 responses: Pizza 17/21, Subway/ Sandwich 11/21, Ice Cream 6/21, Hamburgers 5/21, and Apples 4/21.
Top Responses: Play Video Games 10/21, Read 5/21, Play Outside 4/21, Play on my Phone 4/21, and Play Football 3/21.
Top Responses: Basketball 6/21, Soccer 5/21, Football 3/21, and None 2/21.
Top responses: Donate to people/kids that need money 7/21, Give it to my mom and dad/ family/ grandpa 4/21, and Buy a computer 3/21.
Top Responses: Sponge-bob 4/21, Simpsons 3/21, and The Meg 3/21
Top Responses: I do not know/ None/ Don’t Have One 5/21 [Challenge Accepted], Wonder 3/21, Dogman 2/21, and Big Nate 2/21. I have added these (and the others mentioned) to my to read list!
Top Responses: Honey Bee Blake Shelton/ Blake Shelton 3/21, Imagine Dragons/ Roots 2/21, and Do not have one 2/21.
Top Responses: Dogs/Puppies/Tea Cup Puppy 14/21, Cats/Kitten 8/21, and Dolphins 5/21.
Top responses: Eat in Class 2/21, Change School/ Improve School 2/21, No Work/ No Homework 2/21, and Video Games/ Video Game Room 2/21.
Top Responses: Spiders/ Huge Spiders 7/21, Dying/ Death 5/21, and Snakes/ King Cobras 4/21.
Favorite Answer: Jurassic Park, I know its not real. Top Responses: California 9/21, Mexico 5/21, Hawaii 5/21, and New York 5/21.

When I came in on my first day, I brought in an Introduction Letter to be sent home with the students. This is a great way to begin the conversation with the families that have entrusted their children for an education.

How do you build relationships with your students and their families? Please share in the comments below. Until next time ...