Thursday, May 9, 2013

Common Core Concerns

Our district/state is currently making the move to the common core standards. I know many of you have been using the standards for a while now but California is a bit behind. In fact our state department only posted resources in the last six months. Because of this, I am so grateful to all of you who are already sharing your work with the common core! I don't know what I would do without you!

Our district has spent the last year introducing the common core through a series of nine mini-trainings. (Yes, nine...) Many of these trainings have left the teachers feeling overwhelmed and out-of-sorts, especially those who do not keep up with education movements. (I think someone in our first session said "Common Core? What's that?" I almost feel over. How can you not know what's going on in your professional field?)

One of my biggest concerns about Common Core is California specific (I think). We are supposed to begin teaching Core next year (2013-1014) but are still required to take the California Standards Test (CST) for the old standards. Is anyone else in this situation? Is this idea as inane as I think it is? What are your school/district/state plans for the transition?

What other bumps have you experience with the Core?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Teacher Appreciation 2013

Since I am the assistant principal, I have been working with my principal to create an awesome teacher appreciation gift for the staff members at our school. We did some covert planning and visited each classroom to have the students write down descriptive words about their teachers. I am in love with subway art (like most people right now) and so I wanted to create something that the teachers would be able to display but also make it personal.

Enter Tagxedo! You need to check out this website. It is a word cloud creator akin to Wordle but so much cooler. You can enter your own text, upload a blog or use any URL. Tagxedo then takes the word frequencies and creates a word cloud - which you can then change to any shape you want. They have some set shapes but you can also upload your own. The possibilities are endless and it is still in BETA testing so everything is FREE! I am planning on using the program with my kiddos next year for some kind of project - if my district takes the block off the site! (Gotta love IT departments and their arbitrary web blocks!)

The finished products can be saved in several formats and then printed as needed (another plus that Wordle does not use). I do have to say that Wordle is a wonderful program and works great, on a basic level, so if that's what you're comfortable with then start there. (It's a great place to start students too!) Tagxedo gives you more options and the ability to personalize to a greater extent, which I love! Don't you?

And to all you wonderful teachers out there, keep doing what you're doing! You are amazing! I am so grateful to all the teachers that have influenced me over the years and the many lessons I have learned (including those not found in a text book!). Happy Teacher Day to All!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And then it was May...


Where did all that time go since my last post?

I have been officially back at work since March 11 and wishing I could be at home with my babies but glad to be back with my kiddos in the classroom at the same time. I did miss them for the most part. It was an interesting transition back into the classroom because my students decided they needed to "test" me and see what they could get away with. They have since learned that the answer is not much and that I haven't changed a bit (except for the missing baby belly!). They really, really want to meet The Boy but I told them they were too germ infested for now. I am planning on introducing them at the end of the school year.

We just started testing and so the last couple of weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of review and such. (It was also fun trying to figure out what my sub covered and what she didn't. She is an excellent sub and did an amazing job but I wouldn't voluntarily miss the middle of the school year again!)

So now I'm getting back on the Currently train with Farley @ Oh Boy Fourth Grade

My bucket list is pretty easy - at least I hope so! I love being in the pool and I live in So Cal so there's really no good reason not to be at the beach! I am praying my baby boy sleeps better soon because I am seriously sleep deprived! My DD never had any trouble sleeping so it's new territory that my almost 5 month old is still waking up every three hours! 

In class we just started our unit on Ancient Rome and I have a mega awesome project I do every year that encompasses the entire Roman world with very little effort from me. The kids love it and it keeps them on their toes until the end of the year since they often think they're d-o-n-e when testing is over! Watch for the next post for more info!