May 15, 2013

Carol is HERE!

Hi!  This is Carol from Still Teaching After All These Years. I am so excited to be a guest blogger here for Tina. A little bit about me:  I grew up in a small town in central Pennsylvania, but shortly after I graduated from Penn State in the early 80’s, I moved to Texas to find a teaching job. I currently live and teach in Katy,Texas, which is a suburb located to the west of Houston.  I teach 1st grade and love it!  My husband,who I met at the school where I first taught, is a PE teacher in a neighboring district.  We have 3 young adult children, but no empty nest here!  Our youngest daughter is the only one not living at home right now; she is a junior at Colorado State University. When I'm not teaching or on the computer, I like to quilt, sew, crochet and read. My family likes to go camping; my husband and I have a trip to Colorado planned this summer.

Tina gave me some questions to guide my post, so here are some of my responses.

 How long have you been teaching?
This is my 31st year of teaching.  I have taught 4th grade, a mixed-age primary class, reading and dyslexia intervention and my favorite, 1st grade.  I have also served as a language arts specialist and literacy coach.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
The kids!  I love teaching first grade because they are so eager to learn and you can see so much growth throughout the year.  We had one of our big events the other day, Reading Restaurant, and I spent part of the time just watching them, amazed at how far they have come this year!

Why did you become a teacher?
I don’t ever remember NOT wanting to be a teacher (except for the brief period of time when I was about 4 and told everyone I wanted to fry eggs in a restaurant!)  I used to play school all the time! My dad was a teacher so I think that was a big part of it, too.

 Which grade/subject is your favorite?
 If you would have asked me this question 2 years ago, I would have replied “reading” without any hesitation.  However, I have fallen in love with teaching math over the past 2 years, so now I would have to say it’s a toss-up between reading and math.  I want to become a better writing teacher, so that will be one of my goals for next year.  I especially want to work on conferring with my little writers.  Discovering some useful technology tools like Evernote is making it much easier to keep a record of my conferences, and it's a lot of fun, too!

Does your state use the Common Core?
 No, Texas is one of the few states that has not adopted the common core.  Our TEKS seem to be similar, however.

What are some of your “go to” blogs?
 One of the first blogs I followed is still one of my favorites- Cara Carroll’s First Grade Parade. Because I am so focused on math these days, Math Coach’s Corner is probably one of the blogs I visit the most. I have recently discovered several technology-oriented blogs and have been spending a lot of time on them.

Why did you start blogging?
I have always enjoyed writing, and after attending some workshops on Writer’s Workshop, I decided to try blogging as a way to improve my own writing skills to help me become a better writing teacher. Writing is also a way for me to work things out- it helps clarify what I'm thinking.  I like sharing what we are doing, and hope that someone else can benefit from my experience.

Who are some of your favorite sellers on TpT or another site? 
  I buy A LOT on TPT and am set up to sell as soon as I find the time to get more of the things I have made uploaded!

 I have purchased from lots of different sellers, but I have made many purchases from Lory Evans, particularly her monthly Common Core Math Stations, Anna Brantley from Crazy for First Grade (love her math journal prompts), Diane and Kelly  at Made for First Grade and Donna at the Math Coach’s Corner. Oh, and Cara Carroll and Babbling Abby and ...there are just too many!

 How many students are in your class? 

How many teachers are on your grade level/subject team?
 I have 21 this year, but last year I had 25.  25 was way too many!  When I read about fellow bloggers who have 30 students, I just shudder!

This year there are 5 of us on the first grade team; next year we will have 6 if the district’s projections are accurate.

 Do you do PLC’s?
How does your school run PLC’s?
We have time set aside for PLC several times throughout the year.  Most of our time this year was scheduled on staff development days or early release days.  One of our PLC days was on a regular school day.  3-5 grade had their time during the morning and primary met in the afternoon.  The students attended a performance sponsored by the PTA, had an extra recess, and spent time doing special activities in the library, computer lab or having guidance lessons with the counselor.  Most of the time we are given a topic or task by our administration to discuss and report on; for example, analyzing STAAR (state test) data and discuss what we can do to support the objectives.  But the best learning comes when we can plan our own agenda!  We have done several book studies, and love having the time to explore our curriculum and objectives to create our road maps for each grading period.

What is your schedule like for your classroom?
Our day officially begins at 8:20.  I teach language arts in the morning.  After calendar and morning message, we do our word study activities.  Then we have Writer’s Workshop.  The rest of the morning is devoted to reading using the Daily 5 format.  This year we have had a horrible schedule!  We go to lunch at 11:15 and then head out to recess at about 11:50.  We come in from recess at 12:15, take a restroom break and then head to our specials class- art,music or PE- until 1:20.  By the time we start math at 1:30, the kids have been “shut down” for over 2 hours and it takes forever to get them to focus on academics again!  I have been trying to incorporate more guided math into my teaching, and my students do math stations most days. After math we have science or social studies.  We start packing up about 3:05 and then read from our chapter book until about 3:25 when dismissal starts.

Even though I have taught for a very long time, I still love learning about teaching and trying new things.  Right now I am on a mission to bring as much technology as I can into my classroom to enhance the learning of my students. My little “digital natives” just amaze me every time we try something new!  I can honestly say that I am enjoying teaching more this year than I have in a very long time.

Please come visit me at Still Teaching After All These Years!

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