Friday, September 30, 2011

Progress Reports

It's Friday night. I'm sitting on the couch. I have graded some papers while watching some high school football and Blue Bloods tonight. I've also planned most of my week besides language arts. I know I'm going to teach simple and compound sentences next week, but I'm just not sure about how to do it yet. On Mo.nday, we're going to review for a social studies unit test over the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations. I need to make some sort of review game. I'm thinking I need some sort of jeopardy game to review. We had a map test today over the countries of Central America. A couple of students bombed these 7 countries. It really behooves me how they did this. They had about 5 minutes 4 straight days to basically memorize the 7 countries while studying. We went over some sort of an acronym that they could use to help them remember the first letter of every country. We went in order from West to East. Goats (Guatemala) Bowl (Beliz) Every (El Salvador) Hour (Honduras) Near (Nicaragua) Crazy (Costa Rica) People (Panama). This saddens me that some of the students didn't do too well. What happened? I don't know.

In reading, we finally finished Tuck Everlasting. To demonstrate their learning and understanding of the book, the students had the opportunity to choose things off a menu. The menu was an idea from a fellow teacher. (Side note - Seriously, I can't tell you enough how awesome my team is.) The students seemed to really get involved into these projects. The only problem I ran into was that I would have to grade each of my students' projects. They each had to do 3 projects. 3 projects x 30 kids in a class x 2 classes = around 180 projects to grade. I didn't really think that though :) So, I let the students decide which one they think they did the best effort. I still need to grade these, along with their similarities and differences paper that they wrote comparing the book to the movie.

Other things I need to do is finish grading their biographies that they presented to the classes earlier this year, get my progress reports, data binders, and students' goals finished. I also need to have my S2S meetings with my students as we discuss their individual goals with me.

I'm so thankful for the people that I work with.

Till next time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Zoom Focus

Zoom Focus

This is a great, great read from Jon Gordon.

Zoom Focus

September 25th, 2011 Posted in General

“Vision without Execution is hallucination” – Einstein

I believe every one of us has a desire to accomplish great things, to do something meaningful, to have an impact. Yet, so many of us don’t take the actions necessary to create the success we desire. Then there are others who are very busy taking actions but the actions have nothing to do with their vision and goals. They’ve become lost in the busyness of life.

In my work with sports teams, businesses and organizations I have found that the key to individual and team success is to Zoom Focus. Zoom Focus helps you turn ideas and goals into reality and results. Zoom Focus helps you focus on your priorities, execute, and create success. Zoom Focus helps you take daily steps towards your big picture vision.

Now more than ever it is a time for action. It is a time for getting things done. It is a time to tune out the distractions and the noise from the doomsdayers and the naysayers and focus on what truly matters and what truly will help us create success. In this spirit here are a few ways to put Zoom Focus to work for you and your team.

Create your Big Picture Vision – This might be a goal or a dream. It might be a project that needs to be completed or a sale you are trying to close. It might be a company objective or a team mission. It might be a book you want to write, an initiative to improve your community, or a championship you want to win. Identify your vision and then you’ll be ready to Zoom Focus and take the necessary actions to get you there.

Ask One Question – Each day when you wake up in the morning ask the question, “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then each day take action on those three things.

Tune out the Distractions – Turn off the television. Stop answering the phone. Don’t answer the email right now. Talk to your friend later. First, get things done. Execute, accomplish and then feel free to embrace the distractions.

Say No and Yes – My friend once told me, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” He reminded me that we need to stop scattering our energy and wasting our time on trivial things that have nothing to do with our vision and goals and start saying yes to our priorities and to what truly matters. Each day we must make choices and those choices including saying “no” to people and opportunities so we can say “yes” to the work we are meant to do and the success we are meant to create.

Focus on Daily Improvement – I see it in sports all the time. Teams focus too much on winning the championship and forget to Zoom Focus each day in practice. They are outcome focused not process focused. The key is to focus on improving each day and take the necessary action steps. If you incrementally improve each day, each week, each month, each quarter by the end of the year you’ll see remarkable results and growth. When you Zoom Focus on the process the outcome takes care of itself.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011


I'm sitting here on a Sunday night on the couch watching TV with my wife as she is eating ramen noodles. I'm prepared for tomorrow besides running some copies in the morning before school. It feels good. I spent some time with my family this weekend, which was nice also. It's starting to feel like fall, which is my favorite part of the year. Mainly because of the cool weather, but also because of the colors. I don't like hot weather at all. I sweat a lot. I get miserable. I like sitting around a fire on a chilled night. 

Anyway, moving on to things educationally related. I feel that I am settling into my role this year and it's feeling nice. A lot of the people that know me ask how I like my job and the only thing that I can say is "Great!" and that I am really enjoying my students and working with the other 6th grade team teachers. I feel very comfortable with them and it feels like we have known each other for a long time. The best part is that they share these amazing projects/menus/resources with me just because they want to and they want our team to be successful. I use a lot of their stuff and tweak it a little to my liking. I try to share when I think I have something good to share, but their giving is a lot more than my giving right now. I hope that one day I can give back to others as much as they have helped me. 

In reading, we're finishing up Tuck Everlasting. I'm excited to see what my students have come up with to share about their understanding of characters, theme, and setting. They were given a menu to pick projects from. (Side note-another amazing thing I got from my team.) I have seen some of them so far and they are looking really great and are showing good evidence of understanding. I think we'll do a gallery walk of all the projects to showcase all the work. I need to make sure I bring my camera that day. We're then going to do some things on understanding context clues and some Scope Magazine activities to finish out the week as we take a break from novels.

In social studies, we just finished a little unit on culture. It's something that we'll refer back to constantly throughout the year. The students did well on their vocab test over the terms. We did a "Write It, Draw It, Define It" activity and vocabulary dominoes on the vocabulary words. We're going to be starting a unit on Mexico and Central America...the Mayas, the Incas, the Olmecs, etc. 

In ending this week, I had something told to me that has really lifted my spirits. One of the students in my class has a relative that lives next door to her that I see pretty occasionally because she works with my wife. I was asking her how the student in my class is liking/enjoying school. She says that she is really enjoying it and she says that she is learning a lot. The best thing that she said is that even though we are having a lot of fun, we are learning too. This makes me feel great!!! It's not the fact that she is enjoying school, but the fact that she knows that she is learning things, while at the same time having fun. She seems to enjoy all the projects and learning activities that we do, but I'm more impressed that she understands that she is learning through the activities that we are doing and that school and learning can be fun and not just boring. 

I'm leaving you (I'm acting like someone actually reads this, hehe) this week with a quote I found - 
‎"The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher." Elbert Hubbard - I feel that this is something that I strive to do. If a student can be taught how to learn on his own then the possibility of gaining knowledge is infinite. 

Have a good week! 


Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 3 Down

We finished up this week talking about literary devices and making posters that will be displayed in the room. I feel there needs to be a little more teaching about them for the students to show mastery of them.
In Social Studies we took a quiz/test over latitude and latitude. I feel most of the students did very well on this and can now find things on a map. I had a lot of students absent of Friday so I'll have them make up their tests on Tuesday.
If felt good to have a day off on Monday since it was Labor Day. I took some time to relax this weekend. Did some grading and got caught up for the most part.
I have a meeting with the principal this week to talk about my quality in the classroom and to set some goals for this year. I need to take some time to do this anyway because without goals, I have no direction and I'll end up spinning in circles.
On Saturday, I was able to see my Hoosiers play Ball State in Lucas Oil Stadium. I was pretty disappointed in the execution of a lot of things. I think they'll get better, but I was hoping for a better bright spot.
Here's to a good week of learning and excitement of a 4-Day week.