Compliments & Conferring

I received an encouraging e-mail from a good friend of mine back in the States today!  I didn’t know she read my blog often. It’s exciting to know that my friends can stay connected to me in this way.

“i love reading your blog and staying connected to you in that way – i love that i can be a witness to a side of you that I normally wouldn’t be a part of when we talk about life. i love your passion for your kids and for teaching.”

So a special thanks to my friend for encouraging me to continue writing this blog! Sending my love to you…<3

I know that encouraging words like these help me to continue to blog even though most nights after a long day of school I just want to watch TV and sleep!

This made me think about my students and their writing. It’s so important to genuinely compliment my students’ strength in their writing during our conference. Usually I start out my conferences by asking them how their writing is going. As they explain to me what they’re working on. As I listen to them and read their writing, I give them a compliment on what they’re doing well.

These past two days during our writing workshop time, I’ve been trying something new. During their work time, after the mini-lesson, I told students that I would have a small group conference on writing strong endings. So the first 4-5 students that came to the back table would get some help and strategies on how to make a strong ending. It was exciting to see some of my students rush to the back table in hopes to get a spot for the small group conference! It’s so rewarding seeing students excited to improve their writing!

A Good Surprise

As my students lined up for lunch today, I noticed one of my students carrying a small, square notebook the size of his hand. I asked him what the notebook was for. He told me that he was going to write about the soccer game during recess. He already had written down a quote from one of the boys about playing soccer.  I was a bit surprised, but thrilled to see my student writing in this authentic way.

After lunch, I asked him to look at his notebook where he had written about the soccer game between the fourth and fifth grade boys. Every day when they play soccer, it is usually an intense game of sweat, action, and sometimes even tears. He had written a few pages about the soccer game. He included quotes  from the boys and important stats like who had the assists for the two goals. The other boys that played soccer were wanting to read what he wrote as well. It looks like I have a future news reporter in my class!

For more slice of life story entries go to: Two Writing Teachers

fall photo inspiration

I love taking photos. I carry my camera around with me almost all the time. I’ve always wanted to take photography classes. Last year, I did find photography classes offered in English here in Seoul. I was going to sign up, but I think things just got too busy and I didn’t get to do it. Here are some photos that are inspiring me for fall! I only took photo #1 & 3. The rest I found here: www.weheartit.com. I love the photos they have!

teaching the google generation

I love that our school uses gmail for our school e-mail accounts. All of our students get school e-mail accounts as well. The students that I teach are living in such a different world in terms on technology. I remember using the old square like Macs with floppy disks in elementary school. I remember playing number munchers and Oregon trail. I remember printing things out on the perforated printer paper. Now my students e-mail me papers, send me messages through gchat, and make documentaries through movie maker.

The other day I had my students use google documents through their e-mail accounts to record information for a group project they were working on in social studies. It was cool to see them all put in information they researched into their group document. On google documents, you can see who else is looking at the document at the same time and you can see what they type. I had them add information to their group document and use a different color font, so they could differentiate who added what information. Then, I can go into each of these documents and see the work that they’ve done and give them feedback.

I’ve also recently discovered using labels in gmail, which I’m planning on teaching to my students next. It’s a great way to get my students organized even with their e-mail!

living the examined life…

“The unexamined life, is not worth living.” –Socrates

I’ve had a few conversations recently with my colleagues about the importance of reflecting on our practice. We talked about how in our graduate schools we wrote reflections on everything from: reflections on our learning process, on our teaching philosophies, on our students’ learning, etc.

However, as teachers it’s hard to find that time to sit down and reflect on our practice.  As the seasons are changing, and school is in full swing, now is the time to reflect on these first two months of school and where to move on from here. Here are some of the things I’m reflecting about:

How am I meeting the needs of all my students in my class?

How can I continue to build community in my class?

How can I provide meaningful opportunities for students to share their writing?

How can I incorporate technology into storytelling? (Inspired by this awesome video I just saw: Writing in the Digital Age )

How am I maintaining balance in my life?

my to read list…

There are so many books I hope to read. Here are my top ones. Hopefully I can finish them within the next month!

1. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyers- Finally at the last one. I’m not happy about Bella wanting to turn into a vampire. Team JACOB!!  🙂

2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins- The sequel to The Hunger Games, which I finally read this summer. I loved it. This is a really good series, a bit violent for my kids, but some of the mature ones have read it. I borrowed this one from of my students! There’s also third book that just came out called Mockingjay. I hope to read that after.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak- This is the book we’re reading for our teacher’s book club group at my school. It has actually been a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, so I’m excited to read it now.

4. How’s It Going? by Carl Anderson- I loved Carl Anderson’s presentations at the TC Writing Conference this summer and bought his first book.  It’s a practical guide about how to conference with student writers. I really need to take time to sit down and read through it.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Our principal shared with us what questions he would be discussing with us during our individual meetings within the next few weeks. He went through the questions like how are your units & lesson developed, what is the amount of time dedicated to each subject area, and the other standard questions, but then there was one question that stuck out for me.

As a teacher what is 1 thing that you want to be remembered for?

All the other questions I could easily think of the “right” answers, but this one was a definite curve ball. A million different things raced through my head that I wanted my students to remember me for:

  • being caring
  • challenging them academically
  • being loving
  • a love for reading & writing
  • made learning fun
  • positive relationships student
  • and more…

I do love this question though because it makes me reflect on myself as a teacher.  Why did I want to become a teacher? What kind of teacher do I strive to be? How can I become a better teacher?

Honestly, I still haven’t decided what that one thing is going to be. I’m hoping that it’ll come to me naturally in one way or another. 🙂

What is 1 thing you want to be remembered for as a teacher or person?