Full Takeover: Week 1

First week of official full takeover completed! Honestly, it was a great week! One of my highlights was that each student got either an A or B on their fraction test. Before they took the test, I promised them that if they got all A’s and B’s, then I would make them cookies. Well, a promise is a promise! The students are learning how to more effectively work in their teams (tables), which is good to see. I decided to move the tallies to the board so all the students can view them. Also, next week I decided that in addition to earning tallies, they can also be taken away if students are not behaving how they are supposed to be.  I also reinstated my cooperating teacher’s previous management plan that she has in place. She admitted she is not good at enforcing it or “moving dogs”. I let the students know that starting this past week, I was going to begin moving dogs. There are three levels. ‘On a short leash’ means the student has been given a warning for a behavior. If a student continues to demonstrate that behavior after a warning, then they move to ‘kennel time’. If moved to here, they have to miss a recess. The last level is ‘in the dog house’ and students are sent to the office and a call is made home. First week of full takeover: CHECK!

Reading & Writing Galore

Although each day is a new adventure and there are so many amazing things that take place each day, I have been very impressed with my 3rd graders for their reading and writing lately. Here’s a little update about what they’ve been up to, my experiences leading my first small groups during reading time, and some pictures of what they’ve created.

Book Reports: 

My teacher has 3 book reports due each year. I was able to see one a couple of weeks and since the last one is during my take over, I was thankful to know what to expect. The students have a choice whether they want to do a project or written report. Examples of projects they can do include newspaper, model, comic strip from a scene in the book. If students choose a written option, they have to do an introduction, give a brief summary about what the book is about without giving away the ending (they have a hard time with that!), and their opinion about the book. The students that choose the project option still have to complete and turn in a “book report helper”, which includes key story elements including characters, setting, main events throughout the story so those students also get that writing component.

On the day they are due, each student presents to the class. My teacher said that in high school, when she was in speech class she was so nervous because that was the first time she was ever in front of a group of people so wants to give these students a chance because they are going to be speaking in front of people their entire life. Check out some of the examples of book reports my lovely third graders created:

Project: Newspaper Article

Project: Newspaper Article

Written report

Written report



 Daily 5 Reading Groups

I have started to take over Daily 5 reading groups. Typically during Daily 5, one group meets with the teacher. The class is split into 6 groups based on their reading level. I started leading two of these groups which was super exciting! It has been fun, but sometimes it is hard because I want to ensure I am giving each student attention and a lot of the times they all want to ask me something or show me something at the same time. But for these groups, we worked with different nonfiction text by Seymour Simon and composed a “book report” sandwich. Each student had a different topic (Lightning, Tornadoes, Tropical Rain forests, Wildfires). Each part of the sandwich had a different task the students had to do. For example, in the picture below, the students had to write the main idea on the meat of the sandwich. Needless to say, before doing this I had to teach the student what the main idea was and how to find it in the text. Other parts of the sandwich included the lettuce, tomato, cheese. On these pieces students had to find interesting and important details that supported their main idea. This activity was a lot of fun and the students really enjoyed it!

Sandwich 2 sandwich book report



Week #6

This past week we had a new addition to our classroom. I’m not referring to a student, but a pet. By a pet, I do not mean a real pet either, but instead a decorative owl made from a paper lantern. My cooperating teacher brought it in and I love it! I think I may like it more than the kids, but when they came in they noticed it right away, but it’s face was turned so they couldn’t see it. They asked why it was facing the wrong way and I told them it was being bashful.

Our new class "pet"

Our new class “pet”

My classroom has a great range of diversity in terms of ability level. For example, we have students ranging from first grade reading level to tenth grade. It is the job of a teacher to develop learning experiences that will allow students, regardless of their ability, to be successful. I never want a student to feel like they have been given up on. One of the biggest reasons I decided to become a teacher was because I have a heart that aims to inspire. Inspire a child to dream, to believe, and develop confidence in their abilities so they are able to see themselves as special, unique, and irreplaceable.  I have found that it is students who are the lowest in the class who tend to need the most inspiring and this little boy is one of those students. I found myself stressing out each morning he wasn’t there because I didn’t want him to be overwhelmed with all he had to do when he got back or fall behind. I believe staying calm and finding the time in the day outside of instruction to help those children to catch up allows them to feel cared for and appreciated. It makes it even better when you’re able to see they are understanding the material they missed!

This week I really noticed the great number of responsibilities I am assuming in the classroom and good conversations with my cooperating teacher, which I am really enjoying. As a teacher, there are going to be hard questions to try to answer and situations to address, where there really is not one right way to do things.  I have to remind myself that there is no way to know if something will work until it is tried!

My First “Week”

As I write this, it is currently 10:21 AM on Monday morning. You may be wondering if I am a student teacher, what in the world am I doing writing a blog post right now? Well, this is currently our third day that school has been canceled since I was scheduled to start my student teaching last Tuesday. Tuesday was canceled along with Thursday, Friday I had classes on campus and today falls victim to the frigid polar vortex that continues to plague the Midwest.

My first day in the school was not a typical day considering there were two 3-hour long meeting on the agenda. I got to see the students for about five minutes at the start of the day before I accompanied my cooperating teacher to a grade level meeting with the other third grade teachers (and their student teachers if they had them), the district head of instruction, and principal.

The meeting was actually very interesting. The focus was on talking about Math curriculum and I gained first hand insight into a current issue regarding the curriculum and the thoughts and opinions the teachers have about it. Many of the teachers shared how they were experiencing frustration since there was such a vast amount of material they were to cover, but not enough time. It’s hard for them to find a balance between teaching everything the students are going to be tested on, but ensuring they have a firm understanding of the material. One of the many careful balancing acts each teacher must learn how to figure out. This meeting gave me a glimpse into the benefits of collaboration. For example, instead of one teacher making SMARTboard math lessons every day, they do it on a cycle. It was interesting to me to see the different dynamics among the various teachers as I listened attentively with the desire to learn from them.

After the meeting, it was time to head straight to lunch. After lunch, I came back to the classroom to fine three pictures on my desk from students. One of them had an attached  cut out of heart that read, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I can’t wait to learn with you!” Although I am still waiting on the chance to spend consistent time with the students, I am excited for what the upcoming weeks hold. Here’s to hoping that there are no more cold/snow days so I can begin learning with my cooperating teacher and 3rd graders!