Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Beginning of the Year

This year is a short summer for us and summer is going by quicker than usual.  I  have less than a month before school starts.  Needless to say, I have already planned out the first few weeks.  I really enjoy the first few days of school because that is when you get to set your routine and get to know your students.  

Last year I tried something new and I will be doing it again this year.  I wrote a letter to my students and in return they wrote back to me.  It was great for a few reasons.  They got to know about me (I'm an actual person!) and I, in turn, got to know about them.  Additionally, I got a writing sample from them.  While I am not a writing teacher, I do expect my students to write in my class.  The last bonus, it was a grade in the gradebook.  

This is the sample that I am writing this year.  I x'ed out the locations here on the blog.  In the classroom I will have the actual place names there.  I may take out the "Favorite World History Teacher" part out.  I like to joke about things like that but usually wait to see which classes I can do that with and which ones I cannot.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dear 8th Grader:

Hello and welcome to World History I!  I want to take a few minutes and tell you about myself and ask something in return. 

As you know, my name is Mrs. Fxxxxx.  This is my 5th year here at FMS.  I taught some of you last year in 7th grade.  I look forward to getting to know you over the school year. 

I live in Mxxxxx, which is near Sxxxx Mxxxxx Lake.  My husband and I will be married for 14 years this year.  My husband works in Rxxxx.  We have two boys: a 6th grader here at FMS and a 4th grader at Mxxxxx Elementary School.  We have three pets: a dog named Charlie Brown and two frogs. 

In my spare time I enjoy spending time at Smith Mountain Lake on our boat or dock, reading (I read # books this summer), visiting with my family and playing cards with friends. 

This summer we went on a Western Caribbean cruise and I was able to visit places I have never been before: Haiti, Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Mexico.  Mexico was my favorite as I got to visit the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum, which we will talk about later this school year.  I also spent time on the lake, visited with family in Georgia and took a few day trips around Virginia. 

Okay, now it’s your turn.  I want you to get out a sheet of paper and write me a letter.  You need to introduce yourself (your first and last name) and your age.  Tell me where you live (the area is fine: Fxxxx, Gxxxx, Bxxxxx, Lxxxxx) and who lives in your house (people and animals).  Also, tell me about your summer.  Telling me it was awesome or boring will not suffice.  You need to give me descriptions.  Then tell me about your favorite class or subject and one goal you have for this school year. 

This assignment is your first grade for the new school year.  Do you best and I look forward to reading your letter.

Your favorite World History Teacher (because I'm your only World History Teacher!),

Mrs. Fxxxxxxx

Happy Teachings!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Rules and Regs

Just a quick post to make sure we all know the rules.  

Everything on this site is for you to use in your own class, in entirety or parts.  

Under no circumstance should anyone sell items on this site for their personal, governmental or organizational financial gain.  

Also, under no circumstance are people to take credit for ideas here on this site.  

The only gain should be intellectual.  

Thanks for following me!

Happy Teachings-

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summertime Thoughts

Summertime is like New Year's Day for teachers.  When January 1st rolls around  most people are making resolutions about how to change or improve their lives.  Personally, I'm not a big resolution gal.  However, over the summer, once things slow down, I take to Pinterest (click here for my teaching board) and other websites for new ideas.  I think about what worked well over the last school year and some places for improvement.

One activity that I have really enjoyed this summer (I enjoy it all year but a little more in the summer) is taking my boys (Did I tell you I have boys? One is 11 and going into 6th grade and the other is 8 heading into 4th grade.) to taekwondo.  My elder son just earned his green belt (5th belt change for him) and the younger just earned his camo belt (4th belt change for him).  Their instructor, Mrs. Wargo, is quite possibly one of the most inspiring teachers I have ever met.  

Now let me back up. I had an epiphany a few months ago.  There are lovers of a subject and lovers of teaching.  You can be both but one has to shine more than another.  While I love history, I found history early in my schooling career and loved it from 4th grade Virginia History to my capstone 400 level course at Roanoke College, I have discovered that I love teaching just a little more.  

Back to Mrs. Wargo.  Mrs. Wargo is in her second career.  She was a high school fashion merchandizing teacher in Northern Virginia for over 25 years.  She and her husband had another taekwondo studio there.  Once they "retired" and moved here (we live near a big lake/vacation spot) they started another school.  My elder son is a member of the JTI- Junior Training Instructor- team.  He helps in class and attends another class to train him to be an instructor.  These classes are awe inspiring.  

This past week she discussed the importance of having a commanding voice and body posture to ensure that the class is run well and everyone stays on task.  They took turns leading the class in an activity that involved the students leaving their set points to form a circle.  At first, the other JTIs were fairly compliant.  Once they realized that Mrs. Wargo wanted them to be a little silly or uncooperative they really started getting into it.  It was entertaining to watch these older elementary schoolers to high schoolers get their fellow classmates in a circle.  It was a nice reminder that you need to be commanding but not overbearing to keep the peace in the class.  

In addition to her classes I always enjoy reading her instructor's creed.  She has it on sticky letters on a dry erase board.  It reads:

I will teach this class as if it were the most important class I will ever teach.

I am patient and enthusiastic. 

I lead by example. 

She explains what that means to each JTI and then they sign their name to the board.  

I really like this creed.  Let me explain why.  

First: The most important class is the class you are teaching that moment.  It is where you currently are and your attention should be undivided.  

Second: Patience is so important when dealing with people, especially children.  When you loose your patience and are short with children you can leave a bad impression with that child.  I try to remember to smile and say something positive to each student I see that day (from a simple and cheery "Hello!" to an genuine compliment.)

Third: Enthusiasm is key because if you are not excited about your subject how can someone else be excited?  Enthusiasm is contagious!

Fourth: Leading by example is so true. People judge you on the actions they see you do, not necessarily what you say.   

Mrs. Wargo also has this creed on her desk in her office.  I'm thinking about putting one on my new desk.

Happy Teaching!