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Writing Workshop

For this blog post, I want to talk about writing workshops and some techniques for teaching writing. Since I am student teaching in middle school, this blog post will be focused on a middle school classroom but a lot of techniques can be changed to fit a variety of other grades.

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Image from Srividya Balayogi

From Atwell’s chapter on the writing workshop, I found it interesting where she talks about Jeff. To recap, Jeff was a student who drew pictures in class rather than writing his assignments. Like any teacher, Atwell got on him telling him to “Stop drawing and get to work”. Eventually, Jeff got angry that he was constantly being told to get to work so he and Atwell came to the conclusion that he needs to have enough pieces of writing in his portfolio by the end of the year. We are later given information from an article about how students use drawing as a prewriting activity, much like a graphic organizer to get ideas together. To me, this shows one of the many different ways that students learn. We, as teachers, have stuck to the traditional way of writing. We go through the writing process and form a final draft. I support the writing process because I know it works but that does not mean we can’t add more steps. It can be very beneficial to have a student create an illustration of their writing before they start. This way, they get to thinking about details and setting and what the character is doing.

Something I think is needed in any writing classroom is having a variety of different assignments to complete. This can be different genres, writing on something that is not paper, even trying to write in a made-up language. These are just a couple things that are nice for students because they are allowed breaks from regular essays. They also give students the opportunity to think about things in a different way and think outside the box when they are writing.

In the video, it is great that Atwell allows students to express how they want their writing to sound and look and she is able to give her professional advice. To me, this is how a writing classroom should be.

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Image from Ciaran Dunsdon

Overall, these are my two biggest takeaways from this chapter. Being able to allow students different ways to write not only helps their overall product but it also helps different levels of learners. They are individuals and are performing at their best. With writing, they are only compared to their own work. With different assignment options, we can challenge students by forcing them to work outside their comfort zone as well as assisting them by having different levels of difficulty in assignments.

Reference:

Click to access Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Writing%20_Atwell_.pdf

 

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Reading Workshop

For next semester, I am going to be student teaching in the 6th grade ELA classroom. I cannot express how excited I am but I wanted to make my last two blog posts about reading and writing workshops to refresh myself for January.

In the post, “Ideas to Strengthen Your Readers Workshop”, Ripp gives a lot of great ideas to include in a reader’s workshop. Something I love is having students keep a thought log they can use while reading or after. I am one of those people who comprehend better when I am writing it down. This needs to be an opinion for students. Right now, I have a student who is the same way and then she is reading, she writes down every single word to make sure she is understanding what the word is. I also really like the parent reading survey because it allows parents to become more involved in their child’s schoolwork. The final thing I want to talk about is the 40 Book Challenge. I love the idea of setting a long term goal and having this sheet is very helpful for students. It allows some easier reads like graphic novels or comics but it also adds challenging books like different genres the students can read.

The infographic on reading at home is something that I have seen before. My other third-grade teacher actually has this on display in their classroom. This graphic is helpful for students to see so they understand the importance of reading at home and do not cut themselves short. For parent-teacher conferences, parents can see the same thing and understand the importance.

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Image from M Tk

From “Learning How to Teach Reading” by Atwell, I have noticed the importance of determining what a reader is and why it is important to be one. By developing these guidelines early in the year that we are all readers and have our reader rights, (skipping pages, not finishing a book, skimming lines) we can get students more excited about reading. It is incredibly important to give students a positive mindset when reading so that they are learning.

Overall, reading workshops are different for every teacher on what they include and what they teach but we need to have students wanting to read and more importantly, we need to give students time to read on their own. The only way they can get better at reading is if they read. If this is not a part of a reading workshop, we are selling studentsshort.

References:

Ideas to Strengthen Your Readers Workshop

Click to access Learning%20How%20to%20Teach%20Reading%20_Atwell_.pdf

 

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Restorative Practices

Before I started student teaching, I have heard of restorative practices but did not really understand what it was. Luckily, I was given a book by my principal about restorative practices. It is called The Restorative Practices Handbook. 

First off, it is important to define what restorative practices are. In some of the articles, I will include in this post, it is also called restorative justice. According to “What Teachers Need to Know About Restorative Justice”, restorative justice/practice is a theory that focuses more on meditation and agreement rather than punishment. In restorative practices, it is important that the students take responsibility for their actions and understand how their actions made them feel and the people around them.

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Image from Esther S.

In “Behavior Management: Not Systems, but Relationships”, Miss Night talks about how each student has a choice. While this post is not directly related to restorative practices, I thought it was a good idea to talk about her classroom management strategies and how they can relate to restorative practices. When students are given choices, they are making the call if they are doing right or wrong in terms of their morals. This is something that restorative practices play off of as well. With restorative practices, we make the student see their behavior in the larger scale of things. They need to see how their behavior is a problem for them, their peers, and the teacher/other staff members. In “Behavior Management: Not Systems, but Relationships” and “Restorative Practices: Fostering Healthy Relationships & Promoting Positive Discipline in Schools”, the authors talk about the importance of relationships when using restorative practices.

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Image from featureset1

There are many ways to go about restorative justice but my favorite is the Circle Process. By having the student hear directly from their peers about how their behavior affected them, they see that they are not just responsible for themselves. These kinds of meetings can open the eyes of students and help them to understand what behavior is appropriate and what is not.

Overall, restorative practices are beneficial in a number of ways. First of all, they help students see how their behavior affects others in a calm and relaxing way. Restorative justices are also a chance for the student to voice their opinion on why they did something wrong. This is different from the traditional ways because we have just labeled students as bad kids but never ask them why they are performing this way.

Resources:

What Teachers Need to Know About Restorative Justice

“Behaviour management”: not systems, but relationships

Click to access Restorative-practices-guide.pdf

 

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Classroom Management

 

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Image from Jonas Morian

Working through my student teaching, I have learned that classroom management is essential in any classroom. I’ve been teaching since October so I feel like I have some classroom management routines set in place but I am always looking for new ways to add to my classroom management.

In the article, “What I Do When Things Go Awry”, the author talks about her classroom plan. The first thing she talks about is getting to know the students. I think this is incredibly important. During my student teaching, I was able to observe my classroom and build a relationship with students right away. This was incredibly helpful because when I started teaching I was put at an advantage of already knowing what works for my students.

In the article, “Classroom Management… Or Should It Be Mismanagement?”, the author has a classroom management plan that revolves around no posted rules. This interests me because as teachers, we are so dependent on what our students do and learn that we sometimes feel like we need that control. The whole purpose of the classroom with no rules is playing off of the morals of the students and ensuring that they know right from wrong. I could see this working in an older classroom because at that age, the students should know the difference between right and wrong but with younger students, they are still learning exactly what is appropriate and what is not.

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Image from ryann slauson

In the article, “A Kinder, Slower, More Receptive Approach to the Start of School.” Ripp talks about some non-traditional ways to connect with students. I wanted to add this to my classroom management post because I believe that forming positive relationships are essential to successful classroom management. First off, it is important to be yourself. When students see that you are an actual human, they are more receptive to talk to you and be comfortable. It is also important to decorate your room and enjoy the time you have with your class. These are our students but they are also our friends. We spend almost every day together!

The final article I am going to include in this post is “Three Strategies to Jumpstart Classroom Relationships”. Like I said above, relationships with students are incredibly important for the classroom. In this article, the technique McComb is using is writing letters to students. This allows for that first contact to be positive. It can be something that is individualized to the student and it allows the teacher to step out of the “teacher” position and become just another friend.

 

Overall, there are 101 ways to classroom management. In my opinion, the first step is building relationships with students. This is the first stepping stone to a successful classroom. When relationships are built, then we can determine what ways to do about more classroom management.

 

Resources:

https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2015/10/02/classroom-relationships/

https://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/08/27/ripp_fp.html?tkn=VYLFX6ngqiISj6lrj/1RGa72bnRuzz9tvvgm&cmp=ENL-TU-NEWS1

http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/2013/08/classroom-management-or-should-it-be_30.html

http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/2013/09/what-i-do-when-things-go-awry.html

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Behavior Management- ENG 461

Behavior Management is important in any classroom. Instead of focusing on classroom management as a whole, I am going to be focusing on working with “difficult” students. In my student teaching, I have come across multiple difficult students and if you have not, it is bound to happen. As teachers and past students, we know that it is impossible to learn when placed in a negative setting. It is important to work with these students while maintaining a positive setting for all students.

From the article, “A Mindset Shift to Continue Supporting the Most Frustrating Kids” the author borrows a phrase from Ross Greene. This phrase is “Kids do well if they can”. It is important to remind these kids that they are there to learn and we are there to help them in their path. Outside of school, we do not know what the students are going through at home or in other places. When the author talks about a situation where one of his students said, “You don’t really care about kids, you’re just here for the money.” I was shocked! I could not imagine being in that situation where one of my students think I do not care about them. This is why it is so important to build relationships with students. For some students, teachers are their only guidance.

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Image from kchapman

In the article, “A Process for Responding to Your Most Challenging Students”, the authors list three ways to respond to students. The first way is identifying the student’s strengths. This is important for a variety of reasons. To start, we are all different learners so it is important to provide a variety of ways to teach students to assist in their learning. For individual students, particularly challenging ones, it is important to give them opportunities to shine in the classroom. This will help with motivation and help with their behavior. The next way is skill-building. This is wonderful because it not only keeps the student working towards bettering themselves, it helps build a relationship by showing that we care. The last way is to shift the focus from the student to strategy. This is more of a learning opportunity as a teacher. By focusing on what we can do better as teachers, we are not only helping ourselves but providing better opportunities for our students.

In the article, “Brains in Pain Cannot Learn”, the author talks about three ways to help students calm their stress. The first is movement. By having students move around, they are able to relieve their irritation in a safe and effective way. These can be done through brain breaks after or between lessons. The next way is focused attention practices. This is done by having the student take deep breaths, they are focusing on themselves and can only take a few minutes to do. The final way is understanding the brain. This section explains how we cannot control the student’s emotions but we should focus on teaching them ways to control it themselves. No one likes to be sad or angry so by teaching them strategies to help cope with their emotions, we are able to help them in the classroom and in life.

In the article, “What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong”, the authors talk about negative consequences can cause worse bad behavior. I found this article interesting because negative consequences have been something around in the school system for years and years. This is because it is what we know because we as students had it. We are comfortable with it. It is hard to change what is comfortable but if it is what is best for students, it needs to change. With Will, they found out that he was swinging his belt for a reason. It is important to talk to students and understand why they are performing this behavior rather than just punishing them.

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Image from Dan McCullough

Overall, working with difficult students can be difficult! Hence the name. We need to keep in mind that we are working with someone’s child and more importantly, we are working with a human being. We are teaching them to become an adult. If we just yell and punish them, we are not teaching them anything. We are not teaching them how to cope and if they are in a bad environment, they will not be able to learn.

Resources:

What If Everything You Knew About Disciplining Kids Was Wrong?

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/brains-in-pain-cannot-learn-lori-desautels

https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/47954/a-mindset-shift-to-continue-supporting-the-most-frustrating-kids

A Process For Responding To Your Most Challenging Students

 

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Classroom Design

For this post, I will be discussing classroom design as well as other things.

In the article, 12 Ways to Upgrade Your Classroom Design, Gonzalez has a list of some things teachers can do to make the classroom a better learning environment. I am not going to talk about all twelve ways but I want to highlight somethings. The very first one is “Ask your students”. Having discussions with students about their learning is essential. In the end, it is their classroom too and they are the ones that need to benefit from it the most. The next one I want to talk about is “Reduce your teacher footprint”. This point talks about minimizing or eliminating teacher workspace. I see how this is helpful to students but I think there needs to be some teacher workspace so the students feel related to the teacher. Seeing that a teacher is working on their desk can help set an example for students. The next point I want to talk about is “Creates spaces for creation”. This seems like a great area where students can go to express their own learning styles. This can allow for more hands-on activity as well. The final point I want to talk about is called “Create writable spaces”. In this space, students are able to write down what they think will be beneficial to hang. In my current classroom, we do something similar where we have students write what they notice and wonder about a book. They write this on a large poster paper and we hang it for the entire quarter.

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Image from reneesimone26

The next post I want to discuss is called Classroom Eye Candy 1: A Flexible-Seating Paradise. This classroom is from a high school English teacher. The classroom set up that she has is wonderful and can be a great learning environment for the students. This is because there is flexible seating. With flexible seating, it is incredibly important to have good classroom management. It is important to set standards on what is appropriate and what is not in these seating arrangements. Something that really struck me is that she does not tie different seating as rewards. She talks about the problem of having students stay in the exact same spot all the time so she switches it up by challenging students to not sit in the same spot twice. This is a great idea and the classroom looks wonderful.

Overall, these two articles were very helpful in my thought process for my future classroom. My two biggest takeaways are asking the students their opinions and making the learning environment comfortable. A lot can happen in a classroom but if a student is comfortable and feels safe, they have a better chance of actually learning and retaining the information.

References:

12 Ways to Upgrade Your Classroom Design

Classroom Eye Candy 1: A Flexible-Seating Paradise

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Celebrate This Week: Week 2

For this week, I am celebrating horror movies! I love horror movies so much and this weekend I got to see the remake of IT. Something funny is this movie scared me so bad when I was a kid I would wake up and cry so it’s crazy that I would go back to see the remake that is suppose to be twice as scary as the first one. However, I grew out of my fear of an evil clown and went and saw it with my family. It was so great and I can’t wait to go back and see chapter two. All I’m gonna say is wear a loose shirt so you can hide in it! 

Until next time, 

-Rachel

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Personal Learning Network

PLN otherwise known as Personal Learning Network. What is PLN and how does it connect to a future teacher? Well, I am here to answer these questions!

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>True … you are a part of my personal learning network because I put you there. Your voice has a value in my learning journey. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/satchat?src=hash”>#satchat</a></p>&mdash; Dennis Dill (@DennisDill) <a href=”https://twitter.com/DennisDill/status/855749399913390080″>April 22, 2017</a></blockquote>
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PLN is broken down into three parts. 1. Personal 2. Learning 3. Network. These things all combine to make something that influences our lives everyday. General PLN is a way to connect with people to learn from their stories and resources but we will be going a little deeper.

The first part is personal. This is a personal network because you are able to pick what you see. Just like Twitter, you pick who you follow and see what they post. You pick these people because their posts interests you and possibly share the same interests.

The second part is learning. The things you choose to follow or read influences your learning. Your learning is what your network is based on. What interests you? What do you want to know? This is all based on the subject you are trying to learn about.

The third part is the network. The network basically connects everyone to each other. Going back to Twitter, whoever follows you is connected to you on a network basis.

*These points are explained in greater detail from Teacher Challenges*

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Image Credit: Jurgen Appelo

How can a teacher use PLN? The internet is an amazing place and it is awesome how much access we have to different resources. We are able to communicate and share ideas with a variety of people from across the world. We are able to take different tips and experiences from others so we can incorporate them into our own classroom.

One website I use for this is Pinterest. I can proudly say I am addicted to this website. This site has things called “pins” which is pretty much a link to a website/blog. There is a variety of topics to search for from tattoo ideas to book recommendations. Pinterest can be used by anyone! One board on my Pinterest is called “Teaching”. From the title, you can safely assume it is about teaching. I use this board to save pins about classroom management, different subjects to teach, and different projects to try with students. Some of these pins are just pictures that explain the post but when clicking some, it will take you to a blog that explains the topic! With Pinterest, you are able to choose what you look up and what you see on your feed. I would recommend Pinterest to anyone that has a social media. Pinterest is able to connect to everyone.

Steps to build my PLN:

  1. Take more time in what I read online.
  2. Choose who I follow carefully.
  3. Begin sharing my own experiences.

What are some of your steps for PLN? Comment below! 🙂

-Rachel