“It Takes a Village”

This week in the “Brainstormers” room, we were finally back on track with our schedule. Nearly everything was normal, aside from the fact that it was Bring Your Parent to School Week.” This turned out to be such a fun and exciting time at our school. We had 11 parents come into our classroom throughout the week to watch their children in action during math, reading and writing. Each of our “Brainstormers” also gave their special guests a “thank you” for “popping into our classroom,” gift. I created these cards and stapled mini bags of popcorn to each one, as a thank you to our parents for taking time out of their busy schedules to support their kiddos. It was a very fun and successful week. Pictured below are some of the “Brainstormers” and their parents as well as the gift they each received. I do have an editable template available for this gift if you’re interested in using it.

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Throughout the week we started doing lots of exciting things in class. In reading, we began focusing on internal and external character traits and what those traits tell us about our character directly, and indirectly. Again, I used our stop and jot board to see what students have taken away from the mini-lesson and how they tied it to their own reading. During guided groups I began to supplement instruction with identifying the character, their traits and specific text evidence to support that trait. This is something that 5th grade students will be expected to do all year as a means of gaining mastery before the PARCC test. The picture on the right shows the board I use for guided groups. This is both a dry erase board and an anchor chart board, which allows great flexibility for groups. Being a 1:1 district, I decided to use the dry erase board side for all of my small group anchor charts instead of wasting paper. After group I upload a picture of each anchor chart to the small group it pertains to, on our platform, Schoology. This way, students are able to have their own personal anchor chart to reference at any time. So far it has been working great, but it’s definitely taking some getting used to, having students use their computers in Guided Groups.

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I have a huge passion for history so teaching Social Studies is a lot of fun for me. On Wednesday, which was also picture day, we turned our room into 1773 Boston, just before the American Revolution began. Why you ask? To model the causes and effects of the American Revolution. We did this through playing a game involving taxes that really impacted our kiddos. I selected one “King” to read off the “taxes” and then two tax collectors to collect all of the “taxes” aka Skittles Pieces.

The taxes included things like “if you’re wearing jeans you owe 4 pieces of candy”, or “If you ate lunch today you owe 6 pieces of candy.” These did not go over well with my “colonists.” Before I knew it, there was an uproar in my classroom. I had students asking if they could move to China, complaining that some colonists had more “money” than other colonists and finally at the end, I had students saying they needed to protest and start a war. It was such an awesome way to demonstrate, hands on, what it was like during colonial times in Boston and for them to truly get the feeling of what the colonists probably felt like. We had an AWESOME class discussion about why things like this aren’t fair, and then came up with ways that they could have made the taxes a little bit more fair for everyone. So cool! I love when they are engaged and love what they’re learning. Next week we will be using myON, during Social Studies, since it’s such a short week. myON is an incredible online library that my district provides to all of it’s students. I attended a PD on myON to learn more about it and created book sets for each of my guided reading groups so that they could read about the causes and effects of the Revolutionary War and use the literacy tools to take notes, annotate and find vocabulary at their own pace and level. I am in love with differentiated instruction!

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I finally became a member of the Scholastic Book Club and ordered my first set of books. I’m aware that I am a grown adult, but I was just as excited as I was back in 5th grade to see my book order arrive at school. I bought the entire “I Survived” series, which are great fictional reads about actual disasters, from the perspective of individuals who were there. I also purchased “Auggie and Me” the sequel to R.J. Polaco’s novel, Wonder, which we are reading as a class right now. Wonder is an incredible book to start the year with. Not only does it have amazing lessons, but it also models nearly every story element in literature. It’s perfect. We are just about done with the novel and I told my kiddos that I couldn’t put “Auggie and Me” in our library, until I finished “Wonder.” Needless to say, they were not pleased. With my purchase, Scholastic sent me this adorable new bag which I have began using as my lunchbox. Thank goodness, because mine was getting pretty old, and gross. Thanks Scholastic Book Club, can’t wait to fill our library and get these kiddos reading even more!

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Outside of the classroom, I finally got my iSWAT invites out to all of the nominated students. The feedback I have gathered from their teachers about their excitement makes me feel even more anxious and excited than I was before. I know I have so much to learn from them and I can’t wait for them to teach me all they know. We are hoping to create a news broadcast about Irving that will air once a month and will involve current events taking place in the building as well as in the community. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold. Since we have such a supportive staff and iSWAT leader team, I know things will run smoothly.

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In personal news, I am continuing with Herbalife and loving it. I love the convenience of it and also how easy it is to sneak breakfast and lunch in on the go. I know exactly what I’m putting into my body which is so re-assuring. I just ordered the new limited edition, Pumpkin Spice, for fall, and it’s actually pretty good. I’m not a huge pumpkin spice fan, but love this.

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Overall, it was a fantastic week. I have always believed that it truly “takes a village to raise a child” and this week just really solidified this quote for me. I have 26,( now 27 since we got a new student on Friday) little minds waiting to learn and grow from the things that I teach them everyday. But I am far from their only teacher. Their first classroom is their home. The love, support, help and guidance that they receive in the four walls of their home is where they will learn the biggest lessons. Then their parents entrust in me, to reiterate those values and morals and to also provide the academic lessons to their child for 8 hours a day, for the entire year. However, it doesn’t end there. They have one more extremely important teacher in their lives; their classmates. In this room, we learn and grow from the strengths of one another and provide a community for our peers to feel safe making mistakes. After all, we do learn the most from our mistakes. They are slowly beginning to realize that we are a team, and that it takes “all of the Brainstormers, to be a success.” Here’s a note from a student to another student who is sick right now and has missed quite a bit of school. My favorite line is, “thank you for all you mean to our brainstorm class.” And just like that, he gets it, and he knows, we are so much more than just ourselves. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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