Adventures in First Grade

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Teacher Evaluations Part 2

We had another evaluation meeting today.  This time, we discussed the computer program that we will use to store and keep track of all the pieces required during the evaluation process.

If I am understanding everything correctly (which, let's face it, I'm probably not) along with formal and informal evaluations, we are going to have to provide lots of examples and documentation to prove all of the teaching standards.  I think that being organized is going to be the key to getting through this complete evaluation process.

I am very thankful to all of you who commented on yesterday's post, giving me examples and encouragement.  It sounds like a lot of us are in this together.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Teacher Evaluations

This post is really a venting of my nervousness, fear and confusion of Virginia's new Teacher Performance Evaluation System. 

In the past, we have been evaluated by both formal and informal observations.  But that appears to be a thing of the past.  We now have a seventy page procedure manual that has to be followed.

There are two types of evaluations.  One is a rubric style that all teachers without tenure will have to complete.  Those teachers who have tenure will have to complete this type of evaluation once every three years. 

The other evaluation is an evident/not evident style. 

Both types of evaluations have the same seven standards:
     -Professional Knowledge
     -Instructional Planning
     -Instructional Delivery
     -Assessment of and for Student Learning
     -Learning Environment
     -Student Academic Progress

We are to collect data, create an online portfolio, a hard copy portfolio, and many other things to show performance indicators.

I know that this probably doesn't make much sense.  I'm still trying to figure it all out.  Tomorrow we have a meeting about the online program used to store a lot of our collected data.

If you haven't guessed, I was one of the ones chosen to complete the rubric style evaluation.  YIKES!

My question to all of you is what types of evaluations doyou have in your schools?  Are many states following a similar system with the changes in No Child Left Behind?  If you have been through something comparable, advice please!!!!!!!

Happy Tuesday and HELP!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Writing: You've Gotta Have a Plan

Our school has adopted using the four-square model of writing, from Kindergarten through fifth grade.  The thinking behind this is that each grade can build off the foundation of the prior year.

We have been talking about Monarch butterflies, which I figured would be a great springboard for creating a four square.

Before we began, I wanted to impress upon my firsties the importance of having a writing plan.  I brought in a set of blue prints that my husband had for a concrete job that he was pouring. 

Displaying the plans, I explained how Mr. Nunley needed these to know where and how much concrete he needed to pour.  That if he did not have the plans, what he did would not make much sense.

I then explained that when we write, we also need to have a plan so our words make sense.  Working together, we created a plan for writing about the topic "The Monarch caterpillar is an amazing animal."

The students stayed on topic and had great ideas for developing a cohesive paragraph using our four-square organizer.

If this is an idea that you are interested in but do not have a set of blueprints handy, most house plan websites have floor plans that you can print out and use for an example.

Happy Monday! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My Classroom: Owl Style (Part 2)

Today on the tour, I wanted to share with you where I am going to be displaying our writing.

These cute light bulbs are from Reagan's Ready For School Pennant pack from TPT.  I used the cute activities in this pack during the first few days of school, and my firsties looked forward to the new art/writing project each day.

You will notice throughout the tour of my new classroom design that I have many corny owl my Nunley Newsletter:  Read "Owl" About It!.  I know, I know.  I need an owl intervention.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Classroom: Owl Style (Part 1)

Back in the summer, I posted about wanting a change.  I wanted to completely rearrange my classroom.  Well, I did it.  The only thing that is the same is my small group/teacher area because that is the only place in the room where it works.

Here is a picture from my doorway:

The bottom left of the picture shows the back of two of the bookcases in my classroom library.  On the back of the white bookshelf I have my owl welcome sign:

I have moved my classroom library to the other side of my room.  Here is the end result:

My favorite part of the library is my Franklin and Llama, Llama plush:

Tune in tomorrow where I will show you another section of my classroom.


Today in math, I taught my children how to play Cara Carroll's Roll and Remove.  Using Debbie Diller's great idea of math mats, I divided my kids into partners after I had modeled the right way the game.  I was amazed at how well they played together!  There was no arguing, no whining, no off topic was awesome!

What are some of your favorite math games to play at the beginning of the year?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

P.T. (Positive Thinking)

Wow...These last few weeks have just been a whirlwind of activity!  Our first day of school was last Wednesday.

Here is a picture of my big first grader.  Can you tell that he was nervous and didn't want to have his picture taken?

Today was our fourth day of school and he LOVES his teacher and first grade! 

My new firsties ROCK!  They are good listeners, not too chatty, and just an overall sweet group of kids.  I feel VERY blessed.

During the first week of school, I do a lot of talk about positive thinking.

I start by reading The Little Engine That Could.  We talk about how even though the little blue engine is very small and has never even been over the mountain, that she still tries and, most importantly, thinks that she can do it.

We then write three sentences together.  I usually blow their minds by telling them that I want them to remember these three sentences for the rest of their lives, not just first grade.

These are the sentences that we write:

I am a Super Kid!

I will use P.T. everyday.

I will keep on smiling.

Here are a couple of examples of their work:

I keep a small poster on my chalkboard to remind them to always use P.T.:

If a student ever starts to say "I can't...", all I have to do is point to this sign to remind them to at least try

If you have already gone back to school, I hope you have had a great first few days.  If you haven't started back yet, good luck!

Happy Monday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Day

I'm baack!  I'm sorry that I haven't posted for awhile, but we were camping and the wi-fi service was spotty.

I really appreciate all the responses to my question in the previous post.  I was surprised about how many of you were able to work in your rooms during the summer AND the fact that you had keys to the building!  We don't have keys.  If we want to work on a weekend, we have to check out a key and then return it as soon as possible.  I didn't realize another world existed!!

The main reason that I asked the question was because of this:

This is what I walked into today.  And this is only part of the mess.  There were several skyscrapers of furniture off to the left.

Today was an "optional" workday.  If we didn't work today, we have to work on Election Day.

I got quite a bit accomplished today, but I was too embarrassed of the HUMONGOUS mess that always seems to occur when I am setting up my classroom.  I promise I will be back later in the week with more pictures.

When do you have your first teacher workday?

Happy Monday!!