Friday, July 27, 2012

Awaiting My...Classroom

Hello again, friends!

Apologies for my little hiatus from blogging. Sometimes life just gets in the way, you know? This week was my last week of babysitting the three kids I was hired to babysit this summer (I only babysat them for six weeks--it went by so quickly!), and I'm preparing to move next weekend, so it's just been busy.

The good news is that I'm meeting with a "mentor," for lack of a better word, at my school this afternoon. I'm hoping she can get me some textbooks and other resources, because no one has given those to me yet, and hopefully provide me with some direction in my lesson planning. I still haven't gotten very far with that, although I have chosen a book and I have planned the first week of school. I'm not as intimidated by planning reading; I'm more overwhelmed at the thought of planning writing. I'm just not really sure where to start with that, and all I know so far is that I'm supposed to have a weekly spelling test and that I have to assign one major writing assignment each quarter. I've made some attempts at starting to plan for writing, but I really haven't made it very far.

Another source of my anxiety right now is the fact that my classroom isn't ready yet.

My school is trying to expand this year, so they're putting in modulars to accommodate that expansion. Additionally, they decided that it's best for the 6th grade to be kind of isolated out there in these new modulars in order to help with their adjustment to middle school, and I've been hired to be a 6th grade teacher. So, I have no idea at this point when I'll be able to get into my classroom to start setting it up. My boyfriend and I spied on the progress a couple of nights ago when we were out for dinner, and the modulars were sitting near the school, but they didn't seem to be installed yet in the area roped off for them. Since I'll be back to the school this afternoon, I'm hoping to see more progress and to hopefully be told a day that I can start coming in to set up and get familiar with both my classroom and the school. I'm not sure if this situation is better or worse than a friend of mine from my M.Ed. cohort who has also landed a job but whose administrators have changed his classroom three times already this summer. Ha! Poor guy.

So, I guess for this morning, I will try to work on planning, and my hope is that after my meeting with my "mentor" later, I will have a better idea of the direction in which I should be heading for planning.

Ta-ta for now...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

School-Year Prep

Well, I have spent the past week-and-a-half or so reading various books, trying to pick one out to teach during the first quarter of the school year. First, I read Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent.

I really enjoyed this book, and it fits into the Lexile level I'm looking for for the first quarter. (Note: The Lexile measure describes the difficulty of reading comprehension in a text.) I felt that the book had themes to which my students could relate, and I loved its diversity (a Korean boy adopted by an Italian-American family).

After that, I read Trophy Kid or How I Was Adopted by the Rich and Famous by Steve Atinsky.

I liked this book, but I really don't think my students would be able to relate to it. It may be a good choice for a different environment down the road, but for now, I've decided it's not a good fit.

And today, I finished reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio, which I only started yesterday.

What a wonderful novel! I read it based on the recommendation of a peer, who taught it to the 6th graders on our team during our student teaching. I truly think that it's the book I should teach for the first quarter. Not only does it fit perfectly into the theme of "Diversity and Identity," but it also seems like a great choice for my new middle schoolers to read. August, the main character, goes through his first year of middle school (albeit he is in 5th grade, and I am teaching 6th grade), and the lessons he learns could go so far. I genuinely think that it could be a wonderful asset in helping me to create a kind, caring, inclusive classroom environment. I think one of my favorite aspects of this book is that it explores diversity in the form of physical abnormalities, which are so often overlooked in novels and in school in general.

Now, here's the issue: This novel was just published this year, so not only are there no used copies of it to be found anywhere, but it's also got waiting lists at all the local libraries. I'd LOVE to teach it, but how am I going to get copies of it? I think trying to come up with even just one class set of 30 copies is out of the question--it's going to be too expensive--so I'm trying to brainstorm other options. I do have a Kindle, so I thought about trying to incorporate that somehow. Perhaps I could get it in Kindle version, and then download the Kindle for PC app onto the laptop hooked up to my SMART Board in my classroom and teach it that way? I know that takes away from each child having his or her own access to the text, but it could definitely open doors for bringing technology into the classroom.

I guess, for now, I'll keep brainstorming...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Professional Development...

So, here's the story: About this time last year, I decided I was going to write a blog documenting my year of student teaching. I found a free blog site that allowed me to password protect the posts, set everything up, and started blogging. I think I set my expectations for it too high, and I ended up completely forgetting about the blog. If I had set a more realistic goal of blogging, maybe it would have lasted. Sadly, I only blogged through about mid-November before it completely fell to the wayside.

Now, however, I am determined to succeed. I was recently chosen to participate in Making It As a Middle School Teacher's 2012-2013 Postcard Exchange, and I'm slowly but surely discovering that there is a lot out there in teacher blogs. I've already used a combination of Pinterest and blogs to help me create a teacher binder, and I've got lots of other back-to-school prep projects lined up.

As my "About Me" says, I recently graduated with my M.Ed. degree in Middle Childhood Education. I am patiently (or perhaps impatiently) awaiting my teaching license, which lets my employer know I am indeed certified to teach English language arts and social studies in grades 4-9. In fact, I have a job lined up, one that I accepted just a couple of weeks ago. I'm ecstatic to say that I will be teaching 6th grade English language arts at a charter school.

Speaking of, I am now slowly entering panic mode. I have so many questions--really, I should just stop in to the school to get them answered. I'm attempting to start planning my curriculum, and I've been provided with a suggested curriculum, but it's still...overwhelming. I went through each quarter's theme last night and came up with a list of possible novels I could teach, but I'm not sure if my school has money in the budget for me to get a class set of the novels, or if I will have to come up with some other means. I'm also still having trouble envisioning how I can make everything weave together. I really like the themes; I think they're going to be really interesting, and I'm excited to be teaching them. But, I still feel like I need someone to point me in the right direction.

Maybe if I turn the TV off and make myself focus... :)