Thursday, August 18, 2016

STEM? In Kindergarten? Are you CrAzY??!!

  STEM activities are all the rage.....and for good reason.  They get our kids thinking and creating and problem solving and actually ENJOYING the learning process!  If you aren't familiar with STEM yet, yourself and your students a favor and learn about it!  I love, love, LOVE the direction STEM is taking our classrooms!  But, STEM for little kids??!!!


  Today marked the completion of one week in my Kindergarten classroom......and we did our first STEM activity.  It. Went. GREAT!  Until I actually tried it, I never would've thought Kindergarten kids could handle it.  They proved me wrong.

  Take a peek at this video that shows a teeny bit of the lesson.

Monday, June 27, 2016

{I'm So Excited About} BRAG TAGS!

  Sometimes you come across something "new to you" in education that just gets you all giddy!  This has happened to me with Brag Tags.  I cannot wait to implement this system this year in my Kindergarten Class!  I just know that my kindergarten kids are going to LOVE Brag Tags!

 What in the heck are Brag Tags?

Brag Tags are a reward system set up in your classroom.....without the need for an expensive treasure box!  Kids work to earn a variety of Brag Tags.  They will want to earn them all, so behavior and motivation improves. When students meet a goal, such as learning to write their name, doing homework, or even having great lunchroom behavior, the kids earn a  Brag Tag.  Teachers can set up their own system for wearing the Brag Tag necklaces, but I plan to let my kids wear them on Fridays and any day that they earn a new Brag Tag.  The set of Brag Tags that I created is designed especially for Kindergarten Kids, so I know that my students will want them all!

To get started, you just need a set of Brag Tags and something to attach them to, such as the cheap-o ball and chain necklaces off of amazon.  Some people laminate the Brag Tags, but I plan to just print them on card stock.  I am pumped and ready to get started with my new little kinders!

Want to give your kids something to brag about, too?  Give them Brag Tags!

Have a wonderful summer!

Classroom Base Camp on TpT

Every Teacher Has a Story

  If you are a teacher, then you are probably familiar with this introductory exercise at a teacher workshop.....

"Welcome to our workshop.  Let's get to know each other.  Go around the room, and when it is your turn, tell us your name, where you teach and how long you have been teaching." 

Then, we proceed to go around the room and every teacher shares this information. 

There are teachers who proudly announce that they have been teaching 29....32...35+ years.  These teachers get a wide-eyed look and a barely  audible gasp from the rest of us.  We don't have to say it, we all know what they rest of us are thinking....."How did you do it? Will I be able to hold on that long?"

There are teachers who timidly inform the group that they are "first year teachers."  These teachers are given a sweet smile and a look of encouragement.  We don't have to say it, but the rest of us are thinking...."Will she make it through her first year?"

And then, there are the rest of us.  The "somewhere in-betweens". 

In the 16 years that I have been teaching, I don't know if I have EVER attending a workshop where this wasn't done and I have attending MANY workshops.

Although we often identify ourselves by the school we teach at and the number of years we have served, there is so much more to us than that.  We all have a story.

My teaching story began as a child playing school with my siblings.....just the same beginning as probably 90% of other teachers.  I dreamed of working with children my entire life.

My original plan was not to become a teacher, but to own a day care.  My heart was really drawn toward the youngest of children and not so much toward the "big kids".  I figured that if I owned a daycare, that I could be surrounded by babies and toddlers and preschool kids all the time.  So, I went to college and earned a degree in Early Childhood Development.  As I was finishing up my degree, we bought a little plot of land in town and had plans drawn up to build a day care center.  I began to tell people about my plans and already had a waiting list for enrollment.  Long story short.....the day care didn't work out.  We entered into a fight to have the property in town we bought rezoned for business instead of residential.  We lost.

So, I moved on to another plan.  I continued my college education and earned a degree in Elementary Education.  My dreams quickly changed from daycare owner to teacher.  My whole heart went into my new career path and I never looked back.

After finishing my degree, I frantically searched for a job in an area where teachers were aplenty.  Just days before the new school year, I was hired as a 4th grade teacher in a local school.  But, there was a catch.  The school was going through some growing pains.  They had plenty of kids to warrant the new 4th grade unit, but did not have a physical classroom to put us in. 

My first year teaching was not optimum say the least.  I had 23 students on my class list, but they were physically split among three other classrooms. I had to rotate around to the other classes to see my students.  It was basically a new teacher's worst nightmare.....but I was so thrilled to have a job that I didn't complain a bit.  I did eventually get an actual classroom at that school later in the Spring.  It wasn't until then that I felt like a "real" teacher.  4th grade definitely wouldn't have been my first choice for a grade level assignment.  I would've preferred to be assigned to a younger grade.  But, to my great surprise, I enjoyed the 4th grade kids very much!  They were big enough to be basically independent, yet young enough to still enjoy playing games and writing little sweet notes to me. 

I spent 7 years at that school in 4th grade when I got the opportunity to move to a school closer to my house and into Kindergarten.  Double score!  I was thrilled, but completely unprepared. 

The first day in Kindergarten came and hit me like a Mack truck!  It was basically just survival.  And barely even that.  If you have never been in charge of 18 five year olds when they enter school on the first day, you cannot fathom what it is like.  Crying. Puking. Out of seats. Bathroom accidents. Loud voices.  Into everything.  Chaos.

Miraculously, I got the hang of it and the kids did, too.  After a couple of days, I had fallen in love with those chubby cheeked kids who thought I hung the moon.  I had found my niche.  I found my little corner of the world where I fit just perfectly.

I will be starting my 10th year in Kindergarten this year.  I can't imagine teaching a different grade level.  There are moments of difficulty for sure, but the joy I find in teaching kids to read and sing and paint and count and subtract and explore and to be kind to others is a joy that I don't think you will find in another grade level.  I am right where I need to be.

My name is Jennifer.  I teach at Blountsville.  I have taught for 16 years.  That's my story.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Welcome! I'm Glad You Stopped By!

  Well, hello there!

If you have stumbled upon this blog, you are likely a teacher or at least have an interest in education.  That makes us almost like best friends!  Since we are now best friends, click that link over there  

and follow me!  Then, you won't miss a thing.