The First Days of School: Setting the Climate for Year

User Generated Education

I have written before about the beginning of the school year, Beginning the School Year: It’s About Connections Not Content.

I begin all classes focusing on having the students make connections between each other and with me.  I want students to learn about one another in a personal way. I want to learn about my students so my instructional strategies can be more personalized and tailored to their needs and interests.

As we begin this new school year, I want to share my own ideas for what I believe represent best practices for doing so. I have the following goals for beginning the school year:

  • To have the learners get to know one another and if they do know one another, to deepen that understanding.
  • To have the learners get to know me as an educator.
  • To set the climate that the classroom will experiential, engaging, fun, and student-centric.

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Elephant Meditation


Lilac/Blue/Black/White Mandala spoke to me and this is what it means about me: Clairvoyant, depth, intuitive, inspired, artistic, awareness, communicator, empathetic, inspirers, intuitive, leader, performer, philosophical, psychic power, philosophical, spiritual growth, visionary, dreamer, imaginative, vitality, stability, idealistic, musical, magical, harmony, devotion, tranquility, limitless, expressive.

Responsive Classroom Spaces

With the past year fresh in my mind, now is a good time to reflect on what makes any classroom a great space for learning, how well my classroom worked this year, and what I’m trying next year. Here’s what I’ve come up with! Ditching desks, decluttering work spaces, walls and bookshelves, drawers with community supplies, family style tables to work at, living room spaces to snuggle into learning.
7 wonderful donors have given, but I’m not quite fully funded, “YET”. Please help share via FB, email, twitter, etc. and/or donate!
Thanks! Love ~ Me xoxoxoxo
If you’d like to read more about Responsive Classroom practices this is a great article that just came through my email this morning!

Current Events Jump from the Mundane to the Mesmerizing

Newsela Blog

Step into my classroom during our weekly Current Events segment, and you might see students standing in opposite corners debating whether or not colleges should base acceptance on kindness. You may find students using Play-Doh to sculpt their own ideas for testing the speed of snakes.  There might be even students using their sweatshirts and a marble to mimic a “closed time-like curve.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 1.29.53 PMI first implemented Current Events five years ago. Back then, it was a pretty lackluster undertaking. Students would choose an article, often cutting it out of our local newspaper, which offered stories about road repair and sports victories – hardly fodder for meaningful conversation. They would summarize the article to the class and then ask two “discussion” questions. The entire process left the class withdrawn and bored.

So what has caused the huge shift from detached reading to relevant interaction?

First, I found Newsela. Here is a website that…

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DIY Literacy Video Series – Episode 2


Welcome to the second episode of our DIY Literacy video series! We are honored that you are watching and responding to this series. There is a lot of excitement around the demonstration notebooks and more episodes will feature working with that tool. Thanks for all the comments!

As you know, each week we tackle on a new problem that you sent in. Then, we match that problem with a teaching tool that can help. We are featuring a different tool this week based on the problem sent in from North Carolina teachers, Emily Rietz and Lilla Clark:

Problem of the Week  – Readers are in a slump with their reading notebooks. Despite being taught lots of creative ways to respond to their reading, Emily and Lilla notice their students gravitating to only retelling the plots in their books. They are struggling to have students respond to their reading with variety and choice.

Teaching Tool of the…

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