Sunday, October 27, 2013

Olympic Athletes, PBL....and GROWTH! (Finally!)

I know I know I know....it's been a few weeks since I've blogged about my classroom!  Let me apologize!  I've been learning my limits, and have taken on a little too much for the month of October haha.  But here's what's been happening...

So we've gotten to do a bunch of really great things the last couple of weeks.  My students got to talk to Olympic Athlete Giddeon Massie about pointers getting ready for their 5th grade track meet.  That was a blast.  The coolest part of that Skype was that at the track meet I overheard two of my boys reminding each other that Giddeon told them "it's ok to be nervous!".  Love that!




There's also been a couple days in the last two weeks that I've had to be out of the classroom.  The cool thing is though, that that is never a big thing!  It's never that big of a deal for me to be out of the classroom because I always record lessons to show while I'm gone.  But they're not your typical lessons.  I record them as if I were there in class, so they're interacting lessons.  Kids must talk back to the video is if I'm still there!  The subs have told me it's quite entertaining to watch.

We also got to participate in a group Google Hangout (GHO) with Olympic Gold Medalist, and friend of mine, Steve Melser.  He took questions from us and 5 other classes from around the US!  It was great for my kids get to meet yet another Olympic Athlete.  They even missed half of their lunch to talk to Steve!




But this week we also took our second district exam.  If you follow my posts, you know that our first district exam was a disaster.  I wrote about it here.

To say I was nervous about this exam is an understatement.  I knew my district was watching me.  Not only am I REFUSING to teach test formatted questions and worksheets, but I've also been out several days for conferences and stuff.  So I knew there was a lot riding on this.  But let me tell you, failure is motivating if you let it be.  And we took the failure of the last exam and used it to our benefit.

Well my kids took their exam, and we scored 78%!!!  That's an almost 40 point gain!  We were thrilled.  But  my students are funny, they're more concerned with how the other schools did.  Now I haven't seen all other 4 elementary schools yet, but of the 3 I have seen we scored higher!  Why does that excite me?  Because I feel like I'm getting somewhere and comparing myself to the other schools gives me a baseline of who we compare.

There are so many negative people out there who are constantly telling me I could do it better.  I should be teaching the test.  Everyone else does worksheets, why don't I?  Why am I so against all of that?  And more....and my answer to that, is that I want my students to LOVE math and more importantly, LOVE learning!  I don't know of any student who has said "I loved doing that worksheet!!!".  And I sort of enjoy taking our district exams because it gives me a baseline of where most of my students are and how I can now go about reaching their needs!  But more importantly, there was growth.  We're not at 100%, which is where I always want to be, but we're getting there!  Growth is what's important!

We also finished our first huge PBL project this week.  It was quite the interesting experience.  I blogged about this project in a previous post too.  But the kids really liked getting in there and creating and it gave me a lot of time to work with small groups.  There is still work to be done that's for sure.  But we're off and running! (pics coming soon).

Another highlight of my week was watching my students present their projects for their first PBL activity in reading.  After reading The Lemonade War, they had to design a product and create an entire advertisement plan as well as their financial plan and so much more. Then they had to present it to us "Shark Tank" style where the teachers chose who we were "investing" in!  It was a BLAST!  I'm hoping my reading teacher blogs about it this week, and if she does I will share the link for sure!  But here are a few photos.





**Also, a quick "request" from all my readers....please keep me in your thoughts this next week.  I have TWO Keynotes that I am having to give.  One in Houston, TX, and one in Williamsburg, VA.  I am FREAKING out and nervous as all get out.  So I'll take all the prayers and positive thoughts I can get :-)