Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Trying To Avoid Being Over-scheduled, But Wanting To Do Everything!

So far, I’ve decided to have my class participate in: Quadblogging (Sept.-Dec.), the Global Read Aloud (Sept. 30-Nov. 8) NaNoWriMo (Nov. 1-30), and Genius Hour (no specified dates).  I also talked with some teachers in #4thchat on Twitter about the possibility of science Skype sessions, and I’d like to set up some Skype times with other classes in my state since our social studies topic is our state’s history, people, and culture.

Here’s the thing though: I’m trying to avoid putting too much on my plate, especially since I’m going to be in a new school and a new grade.  As a result, I’m thinking of postponing Genius Hour and Science/Social Studies Skype in my room until after winter break.  We may manage to schedule a few Skype sessions here and there in the first half of the school year, but I probably won’t schedule them with any regularity until the second half of the year.  Yes, we’ll still blog, have read alouds, and write after all these events end for the year, but there will be less urgency to stick to a set schedule for them, and so I think our schedule will be a little looser.  I plan to put the idea of Genius Hour out there to my students sometime in December, so they have winter break to let ideas percolate, and come back in January ready to start pretty early in the month.

On a more personal note as far as goals go, I plan to take this year to get my feet under me after so much change, and hopefully begin working towards National Boards Certification the following school year, or the year after that at the latest.  Bottom line is I want to finish my third year in this new district with a completed portfolio submitted for National Board Certification, if not sooner.  It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for years, but I’ve spent the last six years at a charter school where a) I wasn’t eligible for any pay increase for being a NBCT, and b) I think that also made me ineligible for the state loan to cover the costs.  With that being the case, I put the idea aside for awhile.  Now that I’m rejoining the regular school districts, I’m looking to work on them as soon as I feel confident enough in my new school and grade level.

I’d love to hear what exciting things you have brewing in your classrooms for the coming year!

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Quadblogging is Awesome – You Should Sign Up

What is Quadblogging you ask?  Well, it’s awesome, that’s what it is!  Imagine a classroom where students are begging to write (whether it’s shared writing or independent writing), and simply a flutter with anticipation to see what comments were left about their writing.  Think about a time you took a moment to read something, and your class learned about something unexpected, yet important.  Quadblogging is simply chock full of those kinds of moments.

Are you intrigued yet?  Good.  The nitty gritty of it is that Quadblogging is a group of four classrooms who maintain blogs.  There are two rounds of it done per year; one in Sept.-Dec. and one in the spring that goes into July.  That one lasts far after my school year ends, so I’m not particularly sure what the dates are.  Sorry.  As I was saying, each class maintains a blog.  You take turns being the featured blog of the week.  When your class is the featured blog, you write your little hearts out.  During your featured week, your whole class feels like superstar writers because all three of the other classes come leave comments on your blog.  When you aren’t the featured class, you leave comments on the featured blog for that week.  You’re always welcome to write on your own blog or leave comments, but having a designated week for each blog ensures readers and comments at least one week in every rotation.

Last year, my quad included us from the USA, two classes from the U.K., and one class from Australia.  We had very natural discussions about time zones and seasons in different parts of the world because of where our blogging buddies were located.  We learned that kids in Australia finish their school year just before Christmas, and return sometime later in what is winter for us to begin a new grade.  (That was a major “duh moment” for me.  I knew their summer was during our winter, but it never occurred to me that their school year would end so they have their summer off as well.  I just never thought about it.)  We discussed how (and if) we celebrate Halloween.  We talked about the weather.  We shared our field trips with one another.  My class learned that no matter where you live, people are still people.  They also learned that if we, the class in the last time zone in the group, wrote a blog post on Friday afternoon at the end of our feature week, it may not get comments because our friends are all home in bed.

Do your class a favor and sign up.

Want an easy to use blogging format for your class? Try Kidblog!  You can have one username for yourself and write blog posts together, or you can give individual students their own blogs.  If the kids get their own blogs, there’s one central blog page, and you can see recent posts or click on usernames to read a certain post or a particular author.