teachers

Dear Students

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Dear past, present and future students,

I am writing to all of you. I believe you deserve a leader who fights for your rights, rather than takes them away. I believe you deserve to live in a country where you do not fear the deportation or discrimination of yourself and your family members due to circumstances beyond your control. I believe you should have the opportunity to succeed in whatever venture you choose. I believe you should have the right to live the life you choose because you are an American. I believe you deserve the absolute best education possible. I believe you deserve high-quality, educated and professional teachers who know how to accommodate your specific educational needs.

Dear students I love you all. I not only care deeply about your education, but your lives and believe you deserve the absolute best. You are Americans and are told you are living in the greatest country in the world. But you are living in a country that is consistently failing you. You are living in a country where leaders care more about wall street, big banks and the wealthy than your well-being.

You deserve more than a leader who is a bigot and discriminates against most of you due to factors beyond your control. You deserve to have a leader who will fight for you no matter your race, sex, ability, income or background.  You deserve a leader who doesn’t publicly insult more than half of the world. You deserve a leader who demonstrates love, rather than hate.

Please know this election season you are on my mind. I vote for you. I vote for the future you will have. Dear students you matter, you are important and you are the future of this great country.

 

All my love,

Ms. Pelley

Literacy and Play

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A year or so ago, I made a Prezi about literacy and play in the classroom. I tried with all my might to get the Prezi to embed on my blog, but it was not having it. I pulled out one my favorite part of the Prezi which was 5 integrations into dramatic play that can enhance literacy. If you’d like to see the entire Prezi you can go to: https://prezi.com/0jbujiguhnme/play-and-literacy/.

Sock Puppets:
Using sock puppets in the classroom “provides a meaningful way for students to engage in reading, which ultimately results in increased fluency” (Peck, 2006, p. 793). Additionally having students make the sock puppets before they are placed in dramatic play is great art project that promotes fine motor and creative skills. You’d be amazed with the stories young students will tell with sock puppets on their hands! (Also, there is an app on the iPad called Sock Puppets where students can make their own puppets, create a scenario and voices for them and record their ‘play’ to watch later. Check it out!)
Sock Puppet

Writing Materials

Adding pens and paper into the dramatic play area will encourage children to interact with print uniquely as adults do (Bennett-Armistead, V. 2013). Teachers could even encourage students to use the writing materials to create scrips for their sock puppets, make signs for a performance, write a take out menu, create a grocery list, etc. etc. etc. There is no end to how students can use writing materials in dramatic play.

Complex Play

Dramatic play is an ideal environment for young students to do a lot of problem solving, develop literacy, and practice social skills. Dramatic play encourages students to engage in more complex and higher quality play which will develop their oral language skills by assigning roles, deciding the scenario, discussing the progs, etc. (Copple, 2009, p. 146).

Nursery Rhymes & Riddles

Nursery rhymes and riddles introduce the use of rhyme and rhythm before the concept is explicitly taught. They also help ESL (English as a second language) students learn their new language through rhyming and repetition (Magee, 2012, p. 29).

mother goose

Writing Notes

Encourage students to write notes to one another, parents, siblings, imaginary friends, etc. This exercise is important to the development of spelling, phonological and phonemic awareness (Access Center, 2007). This is also a unique writing experience students can engage in. The more unique writing experiences students have, the more incentive they will have to continue writing. Having different types of writing utensils (such as pencils, pens, markers, crayons, paint, etc.) make writing more fun and enjoyable for students; young students especially should not be limited to just using a pencil when they write.

Letter WritingSources:

We have to stop drinking soda

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Today I read an article about what Coca Cola does to your body after it is consumed (see info-graphic below). It’s frightening to think children are drinking these sodas sometimes daily. I’ve made a conscious effort to decrease the amount of coke (I’m from Texas, where everything is a coke) I drink purely because I realized how much sugar was in it! Drinking one Coca-Cola will give you 100% of your daily recommended sugar intake. WHAAAT?

I watched the documentary, Fed Up on Netflix and they compared picking a diet coke over a regular coke to picking lite cigarettes over regular (they’re just as bad for you). This really made me think before I picked up my last can of Diet Coke. If you haven’t seen the documentary yet, I suggest you do. Check out the trailer for it below:

As a future educator I think having healthy options for snack time is essential. With that, I also think it’s important for teachers to eat healthy food as well (not only for your own health!) to set an example for students. What would a student think if a teacher spent all afternoon talking about how great bananas are for the body and then the student sees the teacher chowing down on some T-Bell and a 32 oz coke at lunch time? No, no. Research healthier options and learn to cook in the class, how fun is that?! Plus you can get some great math, science and literacy standards in there (:

My last part of this rant will go back to the coke. We must stop this trend of teaching children sugar is a reward and/or treat. We must stop giving students candy when they finish something. We must stop rewarding them with food period. Food is a basic necessity and should NEVER be used as a reward.

Please take a look at the info-grafic below. I know the letters are small, but if you click on it the image enlarges.

Coke Infographic(Source: http://bit.ly/1h7WErD)

Yoga in the Classroom (Morning Meeting)

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Too often students are required to sit for long periods of time at school. This can occur due to a variety of circumstances: lack of outside time, lack of physical education resources, testing, the curriculum, the district, etc. the list goes on and on.

However, teachers can combat the lack of exercise and gross motor movement in their classrooms by doing yoga! Yoga is a quick, easy, simple, and effective way to get students moving and grooving. I love yoga personally because it really encourages self-regulation, something really important to develop in grade school, and relaxation of the body.

Here are a few simple yoga moves you can do even in a cramped space. I combined information from the following source (Ebert, M. (2012). Yoga in the classroom. Green Teacher, I. 97.) and added in a few poses of my own. The source suggested doing this yoga sequence in the morning before the day begins.

1. Begin in Standing Mountain pose (shown below) feet shoulder width apart, head staring forward, eyes opened or closed, and have students bring hands to the sides instead of in the air,. Tell the students to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouth. (This type of slow breathing will need to be practiced before the sequence begins so students understand how to control their breath.) Stay here for a few breaths.
mountain-305x205

2. On an exhale, have students lift their right knee to their left elbow and then the opposite side, SLOWLY and with their breath.

3. Sitting Mountain pose is next, have the students sit in their chair and scoot forward slightly to bring the back and bottom away from the back of the chair. Feet should be flat on the floor and students should be sitting up straight and tall. Have students breathe here for several breaths. Tell the students to focus on their breath and try to let all of their air out on the exhale.

4. After this sequence, I would encourage the students to do a sitting back bend. Starting in Sitting Mountain pose, the student’s hands are at the back of their chair and they reach the top of their head back. (Below is a picture of students doing this pose standing, which is also an option.)
art.child.yoga.3.cnn

5. After this pose, have the students come back into Mountain Pose, reach their hands over their heads, then dive down into a forward fold. Encourage the students to move around in this pose by shaking their heads ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and/or holding their elbows and swaying back and forth.
yogaSimplePoseSilhouetteForwardFold

6. Lastly, have the students slowly roll up, reach back up over their heads with their hands, and maybe even bend backwards if that feels good for them. Finally, have the students bring their hands to their hearts and together say:
“I stand up strong just like a tree.
I use my mind, and body, and breath,
To focus myself, and do my BEST!

yogasimpleMountainPoseSilhouette

After the sequence is finished, start your day strong! I encourage teachers to do the poses with the students and model how they are to be done. Yoga is not supposed to be stressful or straining. Also do some extra research and take a class (or 20!) before trying it in the classroom. (Additionally, this would be a great way to start a unit on different cultures!!!)

As my practice continues to grow and mature, I hope to post more helpful yoga sequences to do in the classroom.

Namaste!

Music and Early Childhood

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Piano

Who doesn’t love music? But more importantly have you ever met a preschool kid who didn’t love to ‘get jiggy with it’ (sorry I had to) to a good tune? I haven’t yet. Music education shouldn’t begin and end when students go to their music class, rather music should be all around them in the classroom. I love using music to enhance my lesson plans and use them during transitions, which are typically a little challenging for little ones.

Below I’ve listed some benefits the Center for Children and Families in Norman noted.

1. Improves memory:
“Further research has shown that participation in music at an early age can help improve a child’s learning ability and memory by stimulating different patterns of brain development” -Eduardo Maruret, Conductor of Miami Symphony Orchestra

2. Helps develop language and reasoning
Basic knowledge of music and early training help develop the part of the brain associated with language, reasoning, and retention of information.

3. Promotes emotional development and empathy
Music can be an excellent resource for people who may have trouble verbalizing their emotions. This is especially beneficial to younger kinds. Incorporating activities that could help expand their vocab and the understanding of the emotional context of the music would be amazing to their development as young people.

4. Helps with pattern recognition
Student could benefit in almost every academic aspect with the development of pattern recognition.

5. Auditory skills
A well known advantage of training in the musical arts is acute auditory skills. Linguistically, students will develop a sense of tone and “information bearing elements in sounds” which will help with communication as their vocabulary expands.

Preschool literature: Books about the weather

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Below are a list of books that can be used in a preschool classroom. This particular set of books deals with the weather. Some are informational texts, while others are natives or influenced by music. Enjoy!

 

1. Judi Barrett. (1978). Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. New York, NY: Antheneum Books for Young
Readers.
After an incident at lunch that left Henry with a pancake on his head, grandpa was reminded of a town named Chewandswallow were the weather was not like normal weather. It did not rain or snow, instead the clouds dumped food on the people. Things like juice and mashed potatoes fell from the sky. However, the weather turned into a problem for the people because of huge floods and storms with giant food with portions too big to consume.
This book would be interesting and fun for students because the weather in this book is not that of normal weather. Students could use the ideas in this book to compare and contrast normal weather events such as like rain or snow.
2. Bill Martin Jr. (1988). Listen to the Rain. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company
This book gives a descriptive and rhythmic description of rain. For example, “listen to the rain, the whisper of the rain, the slow soft sprinkle, the drip-drop tickle…” This book explores the sounds and feelings of rain.
This book could be used to incorporate music and movement into a weather unit. It encourages students to listen to how the rain may sound on different surfaces as well as the loudness of it. Students also hear the rhythmic pattern of the book.
3. Pat Hutchins. (1993). The Wind Blew. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks.
The wind blew so hard it began to take things with it– Mr. Whites umbrella, the twin’s scarves, the judges wig, the mail carriers mail! The wind was on the verge of taking everything away with it. But then, it stopped.
This book also has a rhythmic pattern. It will encourage children to think about things the wind does and the strength of it. This book may also encourage students to think about things the wind may have blow away from them. It may be helpful to read this book during the spring.
4. Gail Gibbons. (19–). The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree. New York, NY: Voyager Books.
The seasons in this book are illustrated through Arnold’s apple tree. The book describes and illustrates how the tree changes in fall, winter, spring, and summer as well as what Arnold does with his tree during each season.
This book gives an over view of how each season affects the tree’s appearance. This book could be an introduction into an art lesson where students make their own trees and reflect on how different seasons would affect it’s appearance.
5. Betsy Maestro (1994). Why Do Leaves Change Color? New York, NY: HarperCollins
This book would be great to use during a fall unit. The book shows students different trees have different kind of leaves, some leaves turn color in autumn, and also explains why some leaves turn color. I really like this book because it has illustrations of the different kind of leaves and what they look like. Additionally, the students are introduced to the word “chlorophyll” which will enhance their vocabulary.
The book also is a great way to explain why certain leaves turn color and why the others don’t. There are also vivid, colorful pictures that highlight the information in the book. After reading this book, a nature walk where students observe the leaves changing would be a fun way to extend the learning from the classroom.

Tulsa World Editorial: State writing test flunks again

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TULSA WORLD: For the second consecutive year, the state Department of Education is ditching fifth- and eighth-grade writing test results when figuring A-F report cards for public schools.

It’s public acknowledgment that the 97,000 scores on the expensive test aren’t reliable.

School leaders complain that this year’s test had obvious scoring issues: Advanced students who were scored unaccountably low; some students who did poorly on the reading test did very well on the writing test; and large numbers of students receiving the same grade.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister inherited writing test contracts through fiscal 2019 worth a combined $48 million with Measured Progress.

An Oklahoma Watch story shows that the company was using graders recruited off Craigslist and paid $11.50 an hour. No classroom teaching credentials or experience was required.

Every paper was read by two graders, but if you don’t have the right people in the room in the first place, repeating the exercise doesn’t solve the problem.

Hofmeister questions the need for a separate writing assessment, and we see her point.

The costs of the test failure are not just measured in the money going to the contractor. Time has been taken away from classroom teaching to prep kids for a test that won’t be used to diagnose anything.

It could be an issue with the second vendor in a row, but it also might be an indicator of the impossibility of grading 97,000 writing samples in an economical, efficient and consistent fashion.

The Legislature needs to take a reality test about the idea of a mass writing exam and whether there might be a better way to get results that actually can be used.

Original Post: http://bit.ly/1IvqHlL