The HappyEdugator

The HappyEdugator
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting ready for the New Year!

Well, some teachers have already gone back to school, but I thankfully don't return until Monday. I have really enjoyed this wonderful holiday break. Now, I must get back to business!
So, after my husband and I finish taking down the rest of the Christmas decorations tomorrow, I will start the planning process. I am excited about the rest of this year, but a little nervous, too. We have had a lot of changes with common core curriculum.
 In our school, which is now rolling out the new common core standards, we no longer get to teach novels individually. It really has taken much of our freedom away. I don't want to complain, because we are all in the same boat, but it is very difficult and I do not feel comfortable with it. That is because everyone on our grade level has to teach the same novel, at the same time. (Even gifted and special ed teach the same novel. It just gets curiouser and curiouser, as Lewis Carroll put it.)
The real kicker... last year we were told we needed to choose a book for each unit to teach that had to be on the right Lexile level, that we all could agree on, and that was available to order. Additionally, we only had a matter of days in which to choose the 4 novels for the year. (At least they let us choose.) However, we had to choose our books quickly, without even reading them first!!! Not only that, but I have never taught them before either, so I am really feeling lost and out of my comfort zone.
Just one more thing about common core....one of my standards is "Spell Correctly." That's it. Nothing else to guide me. Yes, that is rigorous, because I have to teach my children to spell every word in the English language correctly? Really? Come on, man.
I don't know if it is this way across the country, but the Language Arts teachers at our school are a bit frustrated. We have been told to teach the common core standards, but then were have been told that the CRCT test (Georgia's state test) will still have the old standards on it. Agggh! Since we are not allowed to see the tests, we really feel like we are trying to shoot at a target with a blindfold on. Oh, and we better not miss, because we are evaluated on how our students perform!

Okay, I will stop ranting. I am a happy educator, after all. :) It is the children that I worry about. I want learning to be engaging, fun, exciting, and challenging at the same time. This year, I have more challenges than usual, but it just means I have to work a little bit harder. I actually like the book we will be reading this quarter. It is The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John. I read it over the Thanksgiving break. I like that it is a fantasy fiction, and I think my kids will really like it. It is set in South Africa, and I used to live in Africa, so I can bring some of my own experiences into the classroom. I think it will be fun.

So, here we go! I plan to start off my new year with some New Year activities, then jump right into the book! I also am going to do daily quotes for journals and daily edits for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. I will use vocabulary from the novel for my weekly vocabulary work, and continue on Greek and Latin roots! I think I should have plenty to do!

Before we left for Christmas, my students made Christmas trees with green construction paper hands! My students traced their hands onto green construction paper and wrote a Greek or Latin root on the palm. Then they wrote example words on the fingers and thumb that went with the root. We taped them all to the wall to make trees and to my door to make a wreath. They came out really nice, and I will have to take a photo of them before I take them down.

If you are interested in some new year activities, here are some things to look at in my TPT store:

FREEBIES -

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Happy-New-Year-Handout


For Sale - 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/New-Years-Traditions-Handouts-and-Quiz

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/New-Year-Traditions-and-Customs-Around-the-World-PowerPoint
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/New-Year-Coded-Words-Activity-Sheet-Webdings
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/New-Year-Balloon-Activity

I am excited about going back and seeing all my kiddos. However, I am glad we will get a quick break in about 2 weeks...we get a holiday for Martin Luther King, which will be coming up fast! I will have to write another post sometime this week about that!

Blessings until then,
Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator

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