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One Month Check-In

October 5, 2012

It’s been a month since school started and I thought it would be appropriate to sit back and evaluate things.

I’m not nearly as exhausted as I was the first two weeks. I assume that’s due to improved stamina and the fact that I’m not putting in quite as many hours. Close, but fewer than at the beginning. I’m more familiar with my curricula now, and I’ve got my procedures in place, for the most part. I’m rarely at school past 5:00 these days and I don’t feel the self-imposed pressure to show up by 7:00am. 7:30, yes, but not 7:00. That’s an extra half hour of sleep.

In spite of the germs infesting my classroom I have yet to get sick. Hang on a moment while I go find some wood to knock…..Done.

We’ve made it through our first literature book and through several tests: spelling, math, science, history, Latin. I don’t think I’ve butchered the Latin pronunciations too much, at this point.

I’m still struggling with teaching two grade levels of grammar. I don’t think I’ve done either justice yet. I’m using different curricula for each grade because, while the school already owned the third grade curriculum, they didn’t have a fourth grade. I followed the lead of the English teacher for the older grades and purchased a new curriculum that incorporated grammar and writing into the same book. It made sense at the time, but I’m not loving the program. In hindsight, it might have been better to just order the fourth grade version of what the third graders do. At least the scope and sequence would have followed a similar pattern.

I have, however, overcome my original struggle of teaching two math levels, thanks to suggestions from the 5th/6th grade teacher. The biggest surprise is that I now think teaching math is fun. Who knew? Before moving to each grade’s lesson I do mental math with the whole class that incorporates review and new concepts for both grades. The kids love using their white boards during this time and I enjoy the interaction. Plus, this is when I get the best sense of who is really getting the concepts. I can then slow down as needed and work with an entire grade or individual students.

Some things I’ve learned so far:

  • No project goes exactly as planned.
  • Training is needed for the simplest things, like which side of the notebook paper is the front. (answer: the holes and red line are on the left)
  • Have extra work ready for those students who are always the first ones finished. I’m still building this repertoire and welcome any suggestions.
  • Pandora is my friend. It can set a good mood in the morning before class starts, and stimulate the brain while calming the soul during independent study. And I think it’s pretty cool that my students now recognize Louis Armstrong and Mozart.
  • Read a poem every morning. Usually mine are along the Shel Silverstein line, but I’ve also pulled out A Child’s Garden of Verses. Several of the kids have now written their own poems and asked to perform them for the class. And they’re pretty good, too. Setting the example has borne more fruit than a poetry assignment would have.
  • The school’s water bottles are not dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, it didn’t cross my mind to check until after I’d melted all the bottles.

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  1. If you can find a Sentence Writing Strategies workshop in your area and can get funding to go to it, I HIGHLY recommend the program. It is how I teach grammar/writing. I use the grammar book issued to me, but I teach it in the Writing Strategies order. It might help with your mulit-age dilemma.

  2. Thank you so much for the suggestion! I’ll definitely look into it.

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