Monday, March 30, 2009
After my daughter Courtney was born, I decided to stay home and enjoy being a full-time mom. However, as Courtney approached school age, I knew I would have to return to work (after all, we hadn't planned for me to take five years off!), but I just wasn't sure I could manage being the kind of mom I was committed to being and the kind of teacher I felt I had been before my children were born. I decided to try to get a job at the school Courtney would be entering so that I could better juggle my responsibilities. It just so happened that it was the year that Alimacani Elementary School, our new neighborhood school, opened, but... they were not hiring. As luck would have it (or as I like to think of as Divine intervention) the preschool teacher of children with disabilities had to leave shortly before the doors opened and I walked into the opportunity of a lifetime. Although I had 15 years of experience in Special Education, I wasn't sure I could recapture my love for teaching. I had really loved being a stay-at-home mom, but I need not have worried because Alimacani was led by a gifted and passionate administrator, Donna Hulsey. Donna has now retired but I credit her for putting me back in touch with all the reasons I had become a teacher in the first place. She made me believe again... and dream again. I fell in love with teaching all over again. It was in those days that Courtney went to school with me every day. She got there early and left late. She often played school with the other "teacher children" that stayed too late with her. Of course, I remember she used to beg to stay even longer. She knew my room and the school like the back of her hand. As she got older, she'd go to the bus stop with me each day and sit beside this student or that and entertain them while the others came. She learned how to calm a child that cried as his mom left and what the favorite toy or activity was of each child. She knew how to soothe a child when they were hurt and reinforce easily. I loved having her with me and missed her (most of the time!) as she left to go to middle school.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised after a couple of years in college when she said she thought she wanted to be a Special Education teacher, but I was. As a middle schooler and high schooler she had often been critical of the long hours that teachers put in for what she saw as so little money. When she left for college, I remember her saying, "I don't know what I'm going to be, but I do know I'm NOT going to be a TEACHER!" However, that is exactly what she decided to do. This semester she has been finishing her Masters degree from FSU by interning at Gulfside Elementary in Holiday, FL. Today I had the opportunity of a lifetime to visit her preschool classroom and watch in awe... my daughter, the teacher.
Courtney Timmons from dayle timmons on Vimeo.
Courtney has been blessed with a seasoned supervising teacher, Mrs. Raco, whose knowledge seeps through as she talks so kindly and so knowingly about each and every child. She has guided Courtney through every step - has reinforced each effort and shaped each approximation. Mrs. Raco's assistant, Mrs. Garedelli, is also studying to be a teacher. Courtney has learned much from her calm and compassionate approach. As I watched Courtney today, I couldn't help but think of that little kindergartner who sat in my classroom after school every day with the teddy bears lined up in chairs reading them a story - only today she was reading to children who have put their tiny fingerprints on her life in way that will change her forever. I used to think that children were Divinely chosen to spend time in my class because of something I was suppose to teach them. However, slowly I realize it was not what I was suppose to teach them, but what they were suppose to teach me... and I have learned so much! Welcome to this field, my dear daughter. May your years as a teacher be blessed and may you always forever be a learner...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
At the end of the Book-of-the-month presentation, the Principal asked each student to recognize the contributions of our troops by putting their thanks into writing. Classes could choose from a variety of opportunities. For instance, they could send a virtual postcard, could send individual letters of thanks, or could send a picture to be included in a school video. Enjoy the video below!
Patriotic Video from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Dear. Mrs. Phillips,
I think we need a water park playground. Dry playgrounds are boring. Dry slides are making you go slow. It is too dry. It is not wet. We cannot play in water. There is no diving. There is too much sun. We cannot swim.from Carter
P.S. - This playground is boring.
3/19/09Dear Mom and Dad,
I really want a puppy. I'll walk it. I'll bathe it once I finish taking a bath. I'll clean my room for a month. I'll feed it too. I really want a puppy, because remember when I went to Ariann's house? I spent half of all my day with Second. I loved it when I got to hold Second and we got to play together too even though he bit me a few times. I still want a puppy. Having a puppy will give me more responsibility. Thank you.Love your baby girl, Jasmine
Dear Mom and Dad,
Can you get me and Miles a puppy because we love puppies and we don't have one anymore and that makes us sad. I will help you take him or her for a walk, and I will help you when he or she is hungry. I will love him or her. I will help take care of him or her and I will help you with everything.
Love, Your daughter, Mia
Monday, March 23, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
A while back I did a question and answer interview about the professional development at Chets Creek Elementary for Teacher Magazine's Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook. I LOVE the way professional development opportunities are offered at my school. I look forward to them - no more "sit and git" at the Creek (where you just "sit" and and hope you "git" something!) At the mid-term this year we logged over 150 professional development opportunities at our school for our teachers presented by faculty in our building. Included were book studies, the Principal's book-of-the-month, video conferencing, grade level and subject level weekly Teacher Meetings, demonstration lessons, Geeks-at-the-Creek presentations, BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop), and live conference blogging. AND it's all on-going, embedded into the school day! The opportunities center around what WE each want to know as educators. We drive our own learning opportunities here which means we get a chance to model lifelong learning for the children that we teach! It just doesn't get any better than this. Make sure to check out the column.
Friday, March 13, 2009
For resources for this unit, visit Chets Creek's first grade wiki.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Have you ever got in trouble with your teacher? Well if you have you should read Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes.
Lilly loved school but she especially (loved) her new teacher, Mr. Slinger. One day her grandmother bought a new purse that plays music and (had) three quarters and movie star glasses. Isn't that fun?! When Lilly got to school she wanted to share, but her teacher Mr. Slinger told Lilly, "No!" But she kept showing her friends. Mr. Slinger took away Lilly's stuff!! She was sad. She thought. Then she got very mad. She made a mean note to Mr. Slinger that said, "Big fat mean Mr. Slinger." P.S. - When it was the end of the day Mr. Slinger gave back her stuff.
She said, "I don't want to be a teacher when I grow up" and her teacher said, "I like you." On the way home she found a nice note in her purse from Mr. Slinger. She was sad. Lilly felt she was going to cry. She ran home. She didn't watch her favorite movie. She put herself in time out for 1000 years. She counted a long time. After that Lilly felt better. She wrote a story about Mr. Slinger and her Mom made snacks for Mr. Slinger. When she got to school she said, "I am
really, really, really, really sorry." She gave Mr. Slinger the snacks. Everyone forgave Lilly. Then they danced to the music. Everyone ate the snack.
Did you have a blast reading Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse?
Monday, March 9, 2009
One of Kevin Henkes' most endearing characters is Lilly who appears in several of his mouse books. As a special treat, Debbie Rossignol offered to come read her own special version of one of the Lilly books, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse. Debbie is a thrid grade teacher at Chets Creek and has twins in first grade. She read for both of her children's classes - her own unique rendition of the book. Below is part of that presentation in the TDR (Timmons/Daniels/Ruark) classroom.
After Debbie finished reading the book, she invited the children to meet Lilly in the form of a live little white mouse. Take a look at what happened next!
You'll be glad to know that Debbie dropped the mouse by mistake. I'm not sure who was the most scared - the teachers or the mouse! Thank goodness, Mrs. Ruark did finally rescue the little mouse and we settled him into a rolling ball and a much quieter week with the class. However, there is no doubt that the class will remember this book - and little Lilly's visit - for a long time to come!
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
The whole purpose of the books-of-the-month this year is to give us, as teachers, an opportunity to try out technology so that we feel more comfortable with it. It will not become embedded in our daily practice unless we can use it quickly and comfortably. We are, of course, frustrated, as all schools are these days, with things that are blocked by our county for our own protection but there is still so much that we can use to make our teaching more visible, more timely, more authentic. How I appreciate the "opportunity" to be pushed to think beyond my comfort zone and to embrace the digital natives that I teach. Stay tuned as this project unfolds in the weeks to come and then is opened up to the world wide web.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The triangle represents the beginning of the story and includes the characters, setting, and problem. The three rectangles represent the middle and main events in the story and the circle represents the ending solution. This simple structure often helps students recall the entire story and sequence so that they can retell and write the story that they have heard or read.
Below is a sample of the students holding each part of the organizer so that they can talk through the pieces of the story as a class before they "turn and talk" their way through the story with a partner before they individually write their response to literature.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Starting with a statement
Weekend With Wendell
Kevin Henkes was so smart and brave you might want to read his books. ..
Starting with a question
Did you ever have something really special? Well I will tell you about a story called Owen by Kevin Henkes. It all happened when Owen had a blanket named Fuzzy. He took it everywhere...
Starting with a quote
"School is no place for me, " said Chrysanthemum. Have you ever felt like that?
Starting with a connection
The story Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes reminds me of when I started school. Just like Wemberly I worried about school...