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While the Waters Were Rising

While the waters were rising in town, on the beach, and down the road hundreds of miles away, I was home.

My school district had cancelled classes for the day because of the risk of tornadoes and flooding.

Fortunately, we only experienced minimal effects.  I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, though.

For today, however, it meant that I had been given a gift of time.

The beginning of the school year is extremely hectic, and with this only being my third year of teaching, my lesson plans are still things I struggle with.

It seems that the more I learn about differentiating for various learning styles and disabilities, the more particular I become about getting everything into my plans.

Added to that nervousness (not wanting to leave anyone out), I am creating student-friendly presentations in SMART Notebook, the software that goes with the new SMART boards that were installed in March.

So, if you combine my overachieving tendencies with my tech-know-how, you’ve got one busy gal!

I must say, though, that I am pleased with my efforts, and my students seem to be responding well.

One thing I am very cognizant of this year is time.  Last year, my lessons constantly ran over, and my students grew very frustrated at having to be let out late.  We only have five minutes between classes, so it’s imperative that I let them out on time.

Thanks to the procedures I am putting into place, students are mastering the routine of retrieving and putting away their working folders.

The agenda is my responsibility.  Here’s a sample of what I create for each day…

Precise, eh?

I’m learning how to flow…cutting minutes where I need to.  Surprisingly, though, I am managing to get most things accomplished.

Students seem AMAZED when they see everything we need to do.  When they start giving me trouble by talking too much, I point to the agenda and warn them that we WILL get through it, even if that means that they don’t get their five minute break between sessions.

That usually works.

😀

An activity that gets my students going when they walk into class is the bellwork.  I began giving them Rebus puzzles to activate critical thinking, stretch their phonological awareness skills, and help them begin learning new figurative language phrases.  Eventually, I will help them create their own (an activity idea I borrowed from another reading teacher).

The kids LOVE these and even commented about how they are a favorite activity!

Another thing that’s a MUST in my SMART files are the standards (put in student-friendly language) and essential questions for the units…

I try to show these to my students every day of a unit plan so they stay focused.

I’ve been using a lot of the new tricks I learned during technology training (layering and grouping is the name of the game) to create fun pages in my SMART files.  The following is a quick little review I created last week…

When I tapped on the screen, the correct answers appeared…

Here’s a fun thing I created to help my students master the art of previewing text.  My goal is to help them recognize text features as tools that authors use to organize information and aid comprehension…

When I tap on each colored rectangle, students will see the following…

As you can see, I love to use color.

What I discovered the first couple of days of school was that I was trying to share too much information on each page, so I needed things to stand out.

So that, my friends, is a snapshot of how I spent my day…how I spend my time when I’m at home.

I am constantly working on lesson plans and creating these SMART files.  My hope is that next year, I’ll have these files to use and won’t have to start from scratch.

Fingers crossed!

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