The Power of Music

Music is a super powerful tool for learning. When I was little my mom would put my spelling words into songs becuase that was the only way I would remember them! And this old commercial jingle is the only reason I know how to spell bologna:

When I was in third grade we learned a song that contained all 50 states in alphabetical order, and wouldn’t you know it, I can still sing the whole song today! In fact, I teach that song to my third graders now.

I got a lovely email from a parent about this song:

Christie, I hope you had a nice long weekend! Thank you so much for the 50 state song. We were blessed with our son singing it every day, all day since Friday. We decided to ski yesterday in part so we could wear our helmets to block out his beautiful singing voice. This reminded my wife and I of years ago when Wiggles songs would get stuck in our heads for weeks on end. You can ask him to sing it for the class as he has it down pat!!! 😉 Thanks for all you do and caring so much about the kids!

And that same kiddo went home and found a bunch of cool videos about the states to share with our class. Here is one of them!

There are learning songs online about almost everything.

Astronomy:

Long Division:

Ancient Rome:

If you’re about to tell me you’re not really a singer, get over that, your kids will not care, and start singing! 🙂

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Tagxedo

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That looks like a very odd assorted blurb of words. I had my kids at the beginning of our human body unit write down any word they could think of that has to do with bones and muscled. (Some of them used their resources. I already had a few posters up on my walls.) And then I put their reponses into a word cloud using Taxgedgo. We’ll do this again at the end of the unit. This is a great visual to show how much we learned!

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There is a slight flaw in this system. It got the text from my blog post, and it included a few extra words like the title of my blog and all the months down the right side of my archives.

Precepts

I’m a firm believer in precepts; words to live by, life quotes, mottos, really just listening to people smarter than yourself. In my classroom, we have a new words to live by phrase every week. Here is some life advice from some wise people (or their characters) that were lost to us this year:

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Back to Basics

I’ve changed myself all around as a teacher this year, trying to fit myself into all sorts of boxes that I didn’t fit in. Trying to appeal to my students, to engage them. Well, all I succeeded in doing was making myself unhappy and stressed out. So I’m going back to what I know, how I enjoy teaching, and I’ll continue to adjust for my students from there. But right now I’ve gotten so far away from myself that I’m lost and that definitely impacts my teaching.

Back to basics, back to non-traditional, back to “deskless,” free choice, no assigned seats, better use of my classroom space, teaching kids to really be accountable for their learning.

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Next Semester will be great!

Books, Books, and More Books

There are 18 days left in my 2016 GoodReads Challenge of 125 books. As of December 12th, I’m currently at 116 books. This is two books behind schedule, but my GoodReads schedule doesn’t take into account that I have 15 of those 18 days off from school 🙂 Jammies, tea, cozy red armchair, and books here I come!

So I have to read 9 books in the next 18 days. Thankfully I am a reading multitasker, reading multiple books at the same time (but not simultaneously. That would be crazy.) At any given time I am usually reading a teacher book, a third-grade book (for myself,) a third-grade read aloud for my students (which I totally count,) a Christian book, and a YA or adult fiction book.

I need 9 more books. Here is my plan for the rest of the year. It may change depending on my mood 😉

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Lost (and Found?)

I have had a really rough school year so far. It’s a combination of a difficult group of kids, several new programs/ curricula, and just feeling burnt out. I’ve prided myself on making it to my seventh year of teaching. According to research, half of all teachers quit within their first five years (credit to lots of unvalidated studies on the Internet, and the Internet never lies, right?) But this year, and  a little bit last year, I’ve just felt lost. I’ve lost myself as a teacher.

With every new suggestion, curricula, and the latest technology, I kept changing everything. And I got farther and farther away from the teacher I used to be; the one with energy and limitless patience, the optimistic one, the teacher who loved her job.

My assistant principal asked me last week what I thought my classroom management style was. I literally told her that my management style this year is kind of just surviving and trying not to cry in front of my students. Only a little bit kidding.

But the more I thought about it, that question really shook me. I used to have a management style. I used to not have any student desks. I used to have stuffed animals in my room. I used to play my guitar every day. I used to do a lot of things. But along the way, I stopped. Either because someone told me to or I felt I should. And in that, I lost myself as a teacher. I don’t like who I have become. And my principal could see that every time she walked into my classroom.

Unfortunately, this blog post doesn’t have “Five Steps to Finding Yourself” and it doesn’t have an ending wrapped up with a ribbon. I’m still struggling with this. But now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to take steps to figure out how to fix it. I want to go back to how I used to do things before I changed them all because I thought I should. I want to enjoy going to work every day again because I haven’t been.

And it’s hard for me to say this most days, but I’m thankful for this year. This year is going to help me grow as an educator and as a person. It’s pushed me outside my comfort zone (where I explored a little but now I’m making my way back) to try new things, find some that work and many that didn’t. Life needs a little variety and a shove in a different direction once in a while. Can’t be getting bored, now can we? 😉

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Huffington Post had some tips for finding yourself when feeling lost that I liked and thought I’d share.

I’m going off to do some reflecting on who I am as a teacher and who I am as a person. I urge you to do the same. It’s something everyone should do on a regular basis.

Some other things to remember: cb1fa6395e033fb553a422e8f14a17a3

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Happy Soul Searching!

~Christie

If you can’t beat them, join them!

There are so many pop culture things that our kids (and adults) are obsessed with right now. I say, don’t try to swim upstream, just go with the flow! If your kids are into Pokemon Go, try Aurasma and do some augmented reality. Here are my kids showing their science and technology learning doing a mannequin challenge!