Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Wow, it has been a long time since I have posted. I have been really surprised at the feedback I am getting from my little blog. It is nice to hear that the things I go through as a teacher and the things I am learning are universal (at least in the education universe). Thanks to all of you who have emailed me, commented, or pulled me aside to say that you like what you are reading. I like sharing and I love the fact that I will be able to look back at this first year, in first grade, and remember the details and the important lessons that I am learning.

Speaking of lessons, because it has been over a month I have a lot to share. Whole Brain Teaching is still the miracle I have always thought it was. It has been such a neat experience to demonstrate some of the WBT strategies to the FSU education students who are always in my room observing. I try not to give these observers too much attention when I am teaching. Every now and then though, when my students are doing teach/ok or using words and gestures to retell, teach, or discuss a topic I will glance their way, usually to see big smiles and huge unbelieving eyes. I know they must be wondering where these things come from so I always tell them to look up Whole Brain Teaching because it will rock their teaching worlds.
We are now in the middle of the second nine weeks and oh my have we accomplished a lot. Even so it just makes me realize how fast the year goes by and how much work there is to be done so that ALL of my students are ready to move on to second grade. I am constantly looking for best teaching practices, especially on those subjects I feel that I am weak in. (Don't tell anybody but I am always wondering if I am missing the mark with writing.) Towards the end of the first nine weeks I found something called Four Square Writing and once again fell in love. This organization strategy has helped my students so much. They are writing such thoughtful paragraphs.
In the past couple of weeks my students have really demonstrated just how much they are growing in reading. Even those students who I was concerned about at the beginning of the year are eager to come up to the smart board to read and move the correct word into a cloze sentence.
They all want to be teachers. That is our thing. Every day during my reading lesson I tell the students I need a teacher (this is someone who shows leadership by being focused even when it is not their turn). I will choose one student at a time to come and teach part of the lesson. They do a fantastic job and love every minute of it. I love that learning can be fun!

So, because I don't want to write a novel today I will end this post by telling you about our Thanksgiving Friendship Feast. This activity was something that I promoted for a couple of weeks. Everyone wanted to know what it was and what we would be doing. I like suspense so I gave very little information until the day of the event. I asked all of the students to bring in a fruit to contribute to our Friendship Fruit Salad (of course I had extra just in case). Last week we began learning about the Pilgrims (or Planters as they called themselves) and the Amer-Indians who helped them. On Monday, we took a virtual field trip to Plymouth. On Tuesday, we focused on the Wampanaog tribe and their involvement in the "first" Thanksgiving. We even made headdresses with one feather like the tribe used to wear and I gave all of the students authentic Amer-Indian names. We discussed at length the importance of people helping each other and how a community thrives when they can work together in peace and with generosity and kindness. A perfect lesson for this time of the year when the students are restless and can be a bit self-centered and unkind to each other. At the end of the day on Tuesday (the last day before Thanksgiving break) each student added his or her fruit offering to the salad and we made our Friendship Fruit Salad. We waited until all were served (a great social lesson) and then each student had an opportunity to share what they were thankful for. Then we had fellowship as we ate. (The students really liked the fruit which made my heart sing because I have been promoting healthy snack options all year long.)

This activity lesson was so powerful and successful that it is going in my tool box as a Thanksgiving staple lesson plan. The conversations during our feast were so sweet and kind that I couldn't stop smiling and any stress I had been feeling about paperwork, grades, and other organization/administration duties melted away. It was such an honor to experience these moments with my students and it just made me realize once again how much I love being a teacher and that I am absolutely in the right place.
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the photos!

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