Thursday, June 25, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Chapter 4

Hello! This week in The Primary Gal's book study of Learn Like A Pirate we are focusing on "Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus." In a world run by data and test scores this is truly a great chapter which asks us to reflect on the feedback we provide for our students as well as the feedback students provide to each other. 

According to Solarz, as teachers we need to place priority on personal improvement. Focus on the people your students will grow into, not just the current grade they are in.

I am loving this quote by Paul, "We don't care who is performing better than us. We care that we are performing to our highest level possible!" Today in my summer school group, I was reminded of this situation. Two of my students were discussing their current phonics level and you could sense the tone of competition among them.
Student A: I'm a level 16, what level are you?
Student B: Level 11 (sad face)
Overhearing this, I chimed in :)
You see, Student A had been at a Level 14 all year so has grown 2 levels. Student B had been at a level 5 and has grown 6 levels to that level 11! I immediately made that fact known. So while one student has mastered all levels, the other has shown tremendous growth. I praised both students and reminded them to keep practicing to their full potential. I think this type of feedback is definitely lacking in our classrooms. Everyone wants to focus on just "the grade" "the level."

Now, not only does the teacher need to provide constant feedback, students also need to provide specific feedback to each other. I will definitely use this technique from Paul Quality Boosters with my students this upcoming year.


Next week's topic is on Responsibility! Looking forward to sharing more about this amazing book with you!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge - Dare to Dream

Hello everyone! Welcome to week TWO of the #tptsellerchallenge. This week we are talking about our DREAMS!!!! Let me begin by saying.....I just love everything about Teachers Pay Teachers. In 16 months, it has already done so much for my family. I am so blessed and thankful for this journey. 

So here are a few of my BIG dreams!!!

1. Home additions: We moved in to our house this past December, and what's best is that TpT helped furnish our home without getting in any debt. I had never touched my TpT money, so when it came time for furniture and appliances, we were able to use that. Little by little my TpT monthly income has helped tremendously from landscaping to recently getting our fence up!!! However, home expenses never end. Besides the mortgage....we are now planning to add a patio/gazebo area, buy dirt to fill in holes in the yard, seal the fence, purchase trees, and hopefully get our water well connected to a sprinkler system. Inside, we are still not ready to drill holes on our walls lol, but eventually would love to decorate a beautiful yet modern home! So my dream is that TpT will help out with my mortgage and upkeep!! :) 

2. Visit Wisconsin: My oldest brother has relocated from deep South Texas to Madison, Wisconsin. It's been difficult spending our holidays apart. My dream is to save enough of my TpT money so that one day I can afford to take my parents on that road trip. My parents have never ever been out of state so I would love to take them exploring and what's best... visit my amazing brother!!!

3. Finally, be a stay at home mom! Woah what a dream... I am not even a mom yet!!! But I do dream about the blessed day when God-willing I become a mom and can stay at home with my precious baby! Growing up, my mom did not start working until all of us were already in school. I dream TpT will one day help me accomplish this. 

So now that you know a little bit more about me and my dreams... what are some of your dreams?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge - Makeover Madness

Hello friends! Countdown is on .... 4 more days of summer school left!!! Woooo hooo!

Now, I am delighted to have gotten on board with the TpT Seller Challenge! This week is all about "makeover madness!" I have been wanting to makeover some of my very first products, but with teaching and creating new products....I never get around to it. However, joining this challenge has motivated me and given me the push (deadline, lol) to get going.

Today, I bring you one of my very first resources. I cringed as I recalled: I created it as a Word file!!! Nooooo!!! I guess that's why I never went back to revise.

But, without further ado....... here is my totally updated Cause & Effect Spanish unit!!! Before: MS Word fonts eeekkk..... After: way better cover, better fonts, added content (anchor chart, revised cut/paste activities, and ON SALE). Check it out and refer your Bilingual teacher buddies over to grab this packet on sale (50% off) for the rest of June!! :) Enjoy! Hopefully, I will have more time to makeover after summer school! Until next time friends!


Learn Like a Pirate - Chapter 3

Hello! Welcome back to The Primary Gal's Learn Like a Pirate Book Study! Today I will be talking about Chapter 3 which focuses on Peer Collaboration. I am totally in LOVE with this chapter since it brings ideas, scenarios, and examples of what peer collaboration is like in a student-led classroom. 

Okay, ready.... "Give me FIVE!"
Who has used this strategy to refocus the classroom? I have used it, my bestie uses it, some of my teacher friends have it displayed on their wall. However, it is always used by the......teacher. In this chapter, Paul explains the importance of empowering our students to work together and also USE the phrase "Give me FIVE" and give them the power to interrupt the class. Wait, did I just say that? I'm going to allow my students to interrupt class?!? YES! Of course at the beginning I will have to model and provide feedback to remind students that interruptions can be: to remind teacher of transition times, to suggest appropriate behaviors or tasks, to ask questions, to offer a skill someone might need, etc. These interruptions are meaningful and help students become leaders and collaborators in the classroom!!

My favorite advice from Paul is to set up Responsibility Partners. These partners are very important for the success of the classroom. They can be set up however the teacher chooses, but the students need to understand that they are both responsible for each other's progress. With Responsibility Partners, students will develop empathy and realize that not everyone learns the same. They will also learn that one student may be really good at one part of the assignment, while the other student might be really good at another part. What it comes down to, is building a strong bond within the classroom.

There might be some CONFLICT....disagreements.....ugly situations when students are working with their peers. Paul offers 3 techniques that I will definitely teach my students:

1. Rock-Paper-Scissors
2. Compromise
3. Choose Kind (my favorite) :)

In order for students to feel empowered, we need to create the safe atmosphere in the classroom, where they can interrupt, re-direct, learn, and resolve their own conflicts.

Join us next week as we discuss: Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Chapter 2

Happy Thursday friends!!! Today is the end of the school week for me yay (8 more days of summer school left)! Woooo! So on to today's topic from Chapter 2 of Learn Like A Pirate, Common Concerns About Student-Led Classrooms. 

I will begin like Paul did with this very appropriate quote: 


Changing your classroom mindset to a Student-Led Classroom is going to cause concerns. People may question your role since you are allowing students to "take over." Well, change has to begin some where! I am hoping to begin the change with my classroom. 

I have taken ~teeny tiny~ steps towards a student-led classroom (I think, lol). This past year, I ran my reading block as a workshop style (1st year in 2nd grade, so I was learning along with my kiddos). Basically, students were responsible for completing a certain quantity of activities by Friday when they turned in their workshop activities. While they were working on these activities, I would call my small groups and struggling students to my table. This would allow ample time for students to work on their skills individually and for me to work with groups. My students were definitely independent and knew their responsibilities. They were also in charge of their timer, their supplies, partners, etc. However, I did struggle with leaving them on-their-own, PLUS it took a few weeks for them to get the hang of it.

That brings me to the concerns a teacher might have when thinking about a student-led classroom. I will not go over all of them from the chapter, just two that really stood out to me.

One concern that sparked my interest was: 
"I'm worried about giving up control to my students." 

YES, that is definitely a worry. At the beginning of this past year, I worried. Will they be on task? Will they know what to do if _____? Does this fit their learning style? How will they react if ____? Then I realized, in order for students to grow, they need to take risks. What better way for them to take risks than in the comfortable environment of their classroom?

Another concern that caught my attention was: 
"But, won't my room get loud?"

I know as teachers we want to have that perfect discipline: when an administrator walks in, our class should be orderly, quiet, and all students should be where their supposed to.....rarely does that happen. Learning and discovery are noisy! Check out this quote from Paul Solarz: "Because I have loud, active, motivated students, what I don't have are sleepy, zoned-out children." Which students do you prefer?

There are plenty of concerns and worries about the student-led classroom; however, as Paul suggests, take a risk! Your students deserve the best possible learning experience! Until next time friends!



Monday, June 8, 2015

Pool Party Blog Hop!!

Hello everyone! I am happy to be joining the wonderful Celeste from The Education Highway as she celebrates her birthday! This week is all about her so please leave her a nice comment wishing her a very happy birthday. Thanks Celeste, for allowing me to take part in your celebration. Without further ado, keep reading for freebies, giveaways, fun ideas, and sales!!


Today I bring you a cute summer freebie. This freebie follows a 3-2-1 graphic organizer format, but the kiddos will be writing about their summer plans.  Then they can decorate, cut out, and glue on a bright sheet to make it POP! Hope your kiddos enjoy this!



I have recently bundled my IDIOM resources and have great plans and ideas already to keep adding to this bundle. It currently consists of Idiom of the Week in English and Spanish, and monthly graphic organizers. I am hoping to add more to this bundle this summer, but purchase now at the SALE price to receive FREE updates later on! Check it out by clicking the picture below or HERE!



Celeste has compiled this wonderful e-book with all the sponsors and our social media networks. Be sure to check it out and follow all of your favorites to be the first to know of sales, giveaways (such as these), and much more!!! Just click the picture below to download :)


Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your opportunity to win amazing prizes!!!

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Chapter 1

Hello there! Amidst the exhausting end of the year and beginning of summer school, I'm here linking up with The Primary Gal's summer book study. My goal this summer is to be productive in my own professional development, and what better way than to collaborate and learn from a group of amazing bloggers?! Now, I would like to share some interesting quotes and my favorite "a-ha" moments from Chapter 1. 

Chapter 1 asks the question, "What is a student-led classroom?" 

I thought and thought about this question and came up with my own defintion:
- A student led classroom is one where the teacher collaborates with the students in their learning.
-A student-led classroom prepares students with the skills needed for the real world. 

So those were my first few thoughts on what a student-led classroom is. However, let me share a quote from Paul Solarz that really defines the essence of a student-led classroom: 

"Everyone in the classroom appears to have equal power and equal say in 
what happens, although everyone understands that the teacher's word is final." 


A student led classroom is deeply engaged in meaningful lessons. Students know how to manage conflict. Students make decisions without consulting the teacher. The classroom is structured with a mini-lesson, collaborative work, and a reflective aspect. The curriculum that is needed to be taught stays the same; however, the method of delivery is the one changing. 

I want to achieve that in my classroom. I want my students to feel that family atmosphere, to be able to manage conflict, and to be deeply involved in their learning. Now here's a "Wowza!!!" part. He accomplishes this student-led classroom 2-3 weeks into the school year! I can imagine what a role routines and procedures play in the classroom to have this amazing environment so soon at the beginning of the year.  I am hooked and ready to learn!!



Finally, one of my favorite quotes so far, "When children feel happy and safe at school, they're willing to work hard for their teachers. And hard-working students are what it's going to take to create a successful student-led classroom!"

This upcoming year, I will have my 2nd graders all to myself. No more team teaching for this girl! I am eager to create a student-led classroom with my kiddos :) 


>>Now check out this amazing kickoff giveaway!!!<<

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