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Saturday, December 29, 2012

We Voki'd

I just wanted to throw out a quick updated post about Voki.  I had a few days before school let out for the holidays to try Voki out with my students.  I made a cute little Voki to introduce the lesson:





Terribly Cute isn't it!

My plan was to have my students make their own Voki and talk me through a math problem.  I wanted to try something simple at first and then we will work on building what I can do with it later. 

* I found it MUCH simpler to purchase Voki for my classroom.  I believe it was $30 for a year.
* The one downfall I found was that students could only have 1 Voki each.  So they couldn't make several... bummer.

The students LOVED creating their own Voki.  The crazier the better.  I had one student make a politically charged word problem with his Voki.  It made me laugh and I loved seeing their creativity come out.

It really is hard as a math teacher to come up with different ways for students to use those critically thinking skills especially when so much is geared towards other subjects.  I didn't want that to stop me and decided the best thing to do would be to take those things and cross them into mathematics so we could be more involved with all the cool math out there.

My future plans for these Voki's will probably be to use them during presentations during project based learning.  Have you used Voki in your classroom?  If so, what did you do?

Have a great vacation everyone!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Departure from the Usual

With the recent tragedy in Connecticut affecting our nation, as a teacher it raised a lot of questions for me about my classroom safety.   Of course the school has procedures in place for a campus emergency, but how safe are we really?  A more passive educator stated at lunch the day the tragedy occurred that maybe now the government would re-look at gun issues.  I stated yes, wouldn't it be nice if we were armed for a change.  He actually looked stunned.  I nicely explained to him that I could protect myself just about anywhere I go, until I come on a school campus, and then I'm defenseless.  What if select teachers were trained for such an emergency situation?  It need not be EVERY teacher, and it need not be anything other teachers know about.  Much like what was done in churches when gunmen were storming in and shooting parishioners, much like that plain closed air marshal on a plane protecting you when you fly.   Maybe this is the wrong line of thinking, but would this help to protect more innocent children from dying?  Obviously I'm an advocate for gun rights.

Since I know that guns are not allowed in schools, I began looking at my classroom safety next.  I can say without a doubt the first thing I did was lock my door so that anyone from the outside couldn't just walk in.   We are far away from Connecticut, but it really makes you think, what if.  I know when I did make it home that day I was hugging my own kids, and before I made it home that day my colleagues and I discussed what we could do to make our kids in our classrooms safer.  Some of the teachers blessed with huge supply closets immediately started cleaning them out after school so they could hold as many students as possible.  I don't have this luxury however.  I am on a ground floor, with a bank of windows, and my classroom door is half a window.   I'm also one of the first room accessible when you walk into the school building.  I don't have a huge bookshelf near my door to block anyone's way in. 

The more I sat and thought, the more I prayed.  I know that I cannot live on what-if's.  I know that following procedures on campus is going to be the first step in protecting my students.  I know the second step is going to be hiding them as best as possible, and possibly giving them a good escape route.  I pray that a tragedy like this never occurs in another school anywhere.  That life is held sacred, and that our government allows God back into our schools.  I'm blessed to be at a school where my students can pray before class and that we can talk about God, but many children in our country don't have that opportunity.  I find solace in prayer.  I find solace in God.  I hope that all of the communities in our nation come together to support this community who has lost so many lives in such a senseless tragedy. 

Has this tragedy changed how you look at classroom safety?  What are your thoughts?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Live Binders

After 1/2 a week in the classroom I have pretty good reviews to report about Live Binders.  For those that didn't read my last post about the conference I just attended, I'll give a brief synopsis.  I learned a lot of cool free and some not so free technology apps and programs to use in the classroom.  My goal was to integrate all of these different types of programs into my lesson plans here and there to spice up life a little bit. 

One of the programs I introduced this week is Live Binders.  LB is essentially a virtual 3 ring binder that you can add notes, documents, and websites to.  I wanted to introduce this tool to my students to give them a way to organize their notes, and encourage them to discover new resources for class.    Even better; LB has a free app for the iPad.  Here is a little video from their site:






Here is what I've learned so far:

Some students took to this program like a duck to water.  They were excited to show off their resources and create their binder.  In fact, many of the students created multiple binders so that they had one for their Science Fair projects and other subjects.

Some students... were indifferent.  In fact they weren't really excited about learning about it because they really didn't care about being organized.  They didn't want to discover what they could do and the features in the program... some of the more enthusiastic participants had to show them things to get them rolling and on board with doing something more than just the basics. 

The app itself for LB does have limitations.  For instance we have found that it is difficult to add items sometimes and that you can't delete binders within the app.  Another feature we found lacking was video.  Because iPads do not have flash players you have to get apps to help with flash features.  The LB app doesn't have that flash feature in it, so videos you put into your binder will not be playable through the app.  It really limits the coolest features my students like such as game sites they find that are specific to the math problems we are working on, and their favorite right now is searching out videos of remixed popular music done with math in mind.  (My personal favorite is Mathmeticious... you really gotta check it out)



I digress.. LOL.

Kids really do come up with the greatest stuff!

My students are really excited about Voki so I think what I'm going to do is set up our own class blog/website and introduce the students to it with a Voki... but I'll post on that later.   I hope to be able to add LB's for the kids to take a look at and continue to keep LB's moving.  I'll add updates to see if there have been any changes, and to see if the LB's can be integrated nicely.

Until next time!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Another Day.. Another Conference

     It has been a busy time since I last posted about my NCTM conference.  Since then I've gotten my students hooked on Mathletics and we have successfully added Mathletics to our curriculum arsenal.  Currently I am using Mathletics as a warm-up for students in the classroom, but we are also using activities and lesson plans to get students engaged in learning in a whole new way.   Just after getting Mathletics on board in school, I headed to another conference.  This time I went to a Differentiating Instruction conference held by SDE

      Honestly, I wasn't really excited about this conference.  (1) During my graduate program and even during undergraduate studies, that is all you are taught.  You are taught to differentiate instruction and how it needs to happen, ways it needs to happen, and why it needs to happen.  DI, DI, DI... do it is what that needed to stand for.  (2) My colleagues who have had the opportunity to go in year's past told me... it's boring.. ewwww... have fun.  Not a winning combo there!  HOWEVER....

      SDE must have done something crazy or maybe I just picked the right seminars to attend at the conference because I came back with so much information my head was swimming and I put things into action as soon as possible.  I told my students when I got back.."hey guys, you know that when I'm away I'm learning about new things we can do... so you know I've brought you something back!"  They were excited, and why wouldn't they be!  Last time I went to a conference I came home with Mathletics!

      Two of my absolute favorite speakers at this conference were Katherine McKnight and Cheryl Dick.  Katherine and Cheryl both really brought on board A LOT of different things to for me to consider in my classroom, and for me, it was all about technology.  I absolutely soaked up how I could use technology to grab my students' attention, and to reach ALL of my students while I'm at it.  I highly recommend checking out their websites and their blogs for some amazing information.  Katherine is an author of several books to help current teachers and she has more coming out.

     In my next few posts, I am going to talk about several pieces of technology that I learned about at the conference.  I'm going to share my experiences in the classroom along with my list of things I did, and things I should have never done! 

Just to give you a heads up, this is what I'm checking out:

1 - LiveBinders - I'm using this to get students involved in building their own study guides.  The fact that it is free is a definite plus, and the fact that there was a free app for the student iPads was even better.

2 - Voki - I'm hoping to use this for some vocabulary exercises (yes... there is vocabulary for math students!).

3 - Kid Blog - I'm kicking this idea around in my head right now to see how advantageous this would be for my students, and how I can relate their blogs not only to math but school in general.

4 - Symbaloo - An alternative to Live Binders, but a pretty cool alternative.  I'm thinking of giving students the option between Live Binders and Symbaloo.

5 - Story Bird - yes most story technology is for the English/Reading teacher, but why not Math?  We have stories too :)  They are called word problems!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mathletics

Since my NCTM conference, I've been working with the people at Mathletics to get a new fun app into my students' hands, and in exchange, I get a great tool for myself.  For those that aren't in the know, Mathletics, is a very cool way to get your students involved in math by answering curriculum related questions in which they earn points.  Students can also compete answering questions with other students from around the world for points.  These points can be used to buy cool things for their avatars such as new hair and clothes, or they can be saved up for certificates and leader board recognition. 

This is how I am using Mathletics in my classroom:

1) Each Sunday I look over the weekly lessons and assign activities for students to complete each day; I also give them an alternate textbook assignment they have the option of choosing just in case their are problems with internet connections.

2) Each day in class, students play their Mathletics App to warm-up instead of doing a warm-up problem on the board.

3) Sometimes I will integrate activities as classwork, or I will utilize Mathletics' great line-up of workbooks to pull class work assignments from.
4) Students usually have 2 activities to complete each night on Mathletics unless they opt to do the textbook homework.

As a teacher, Mathletics has made it easier for me to assign tasks for my students to complete based  upon what we are learning in class.  The benefits are multifaceted in that my students get to do homework that isn't always in their textbook, and I can grade homework in a flash!  Less papers, more engaged students, and easier grading for me, made this a win-win for my classroom.  Add to that an app for their iPads, and Mathletics has made its way throughout our school.

Currently we are working on funding for our school as Mathletics is not free, but it has already shown what an asset it is in the classroom and my students are hooked.  The parent comments, phone calls, and emails have all said the same thing; "Thank You Mrs. Ryan for making math fun."  Thank you Scott Flansburg and the team at Mathletics for really doing all that work for me!

In the future I will add some screen shots just so you can see how my math classes are doing.  My goal is to teach today's students the way they want to learn, and to step outside of my comfort zone so that they aren't stifled by old techniques. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

NCTM Dallas, TX 2012 Conference

Let me start by saying this was my VERY first NCTM conference.  I was blown away.  There was so much to do that I couldn't do everything that I wanted to!  There just wasn't enough time.  There were great seminars to go to on topics that I found very interesting, TONS of vendors showing new math tools, and yes I even spent money for my classroom.  Here is a highlight of what I did:

Scott Flansburg:   This guy was absolutely amazing and a great way to start off the conference.  He was nicknamed the Human Calculator by Regis Philbin back when he did Good Morning with Regis and Kathie Lee.  At any rate, what makes this guy special is that he can do insane math calculations in his head in record speed.  As a matter of fact, he is a Guiness Book of World Records place holder because he is so fast.  What really engaged me in this seminar was not only did it blow me away to watch him beat a calculator, but his passion for kids and math.  He has a great program for schools that I got to demo when I met him called Mathletics.  Mathletics is a tool used in conjunction with your curriculum that gives students the opportunity to not only practice their math, but play games, and compete around the world with other students.  It is a great tool for the classroom because we all have those lag times when the really fast student is done before everyone else, they can be doing Mathletics.  They can be doing Mathletics at THEIR pace so if that is 2 weeks ahead of your curriculum, or even behind, they can do it.  They can even do Mathletics from HOME.  Scott also hosts mathematics competitions for kids, and even has several books and a new one coming out.  I will be hunting them down!

Shere Salinas:  The seminar was called If They Can't Read the Test, They Can't Pass It.  We did a great tessellation exercise in groups and learned about how even easy vocabulary can trip a student up because words have double meanings in normal vocabulary and in mathematical vocabulary.  Now if you add vocabulary the students aren't familiar with, it is easy to see why students get tripped up with word problems.  This seminar was a real eye opener for me in that I always knew one of the main problems with math word problems was lack of mathematical vocabulary understanding, but I didn't really see how words with double meanings can trip up students.  It was a great interactive seminar.

Anna Davila: This seminar was called From the Great Wall to the Taj Mahal: Math in Asia.  It was VERY interesting, and very sad at the same time.  The speaker and a colleague applied for a grant to go to several Asian countries to find out what was different in the classroom or culturally that gave their students such an edge over ours.  Their results were almost the same thing in every country.  The people value education and have a huge respect for educators and the students are respectful and take charge of their education and their well being.  Something that is severely lacking in our country.  Another thing the speaker touched on was the amount of mental math being done in every conference.  This importance was noted because it was brought up in Scott Flansburg's conference as well.  He had discussed how an area in his brain was about 5 times the size as a normal person's.  The mental math or "calculator" area could be exercised like a muscle.  Listening to Anna I had to wonder, are we focusing too much on learning an algorithm and not so much on growing the brain with mental calculations.  I looked at my own classroom and thought... yep, we sure are.  SHOW YOUR WORK comes to mind.  Not "what is the answer".  How did you find it?  If you are interested in the type of grant that these ladies did to go abroad, you can learn more at Fund For Teachers.

Concepcion Monlina: So, Who Invented the Order of Operations?  This speaker focused not on great techniques for teaching orders of operations, but really on what we are missing when we do teach the order of operations.  The biggest thing missing of course is the why.  Why do we do this first?  Why does this work?  We start out teaching our students the basics when they are younger (grouping, place value, etc.), but when we get into their later years of school, we forget that they need to be reminded that the more complicated things we are doing work because of the same reasons they were taught in their younger years.  (or we hope they were taught at least!)

Sharon Padgett:  Using iPads in the Mathematics Classroom.  I WAS SO BUMMED!  I left 10 minutes early to get to this seminar and it was full when I got there :(.  I didn't get to do this one.  So I'm throwing it up here so if any of my convention attendees got to go.. I would LOVE some feedback!

Eric Milou:  Teaching Number Sense to the iGeneration.  An absolutely PHENOMENAL seminar.  I laughed so hard and really got into all the cool things Eric showed us, and let's face it that is what the kids want to!  To laugh and be engaged.   Eric showed us really cool websites and really cool things to use in our classroom to engage our students.  Great hooks!  He is a big fan of Dan Meyer who was at the conference and I missed :(  Some of the websites he showed was:

Arcademic Skill Builders - I used this when teaching math intervention and LOVED it.  It was great to see that another professional gave it a high rating.

SumDog: Another gaming website much like Arcademic.  I really like the garbage stack game.

Poll Everywhere: Easy way to send polls to your students and its iPad compatible

Math Snacks: Math Video Site VERY funny ratio videos.

The good news is, that he has so much he's made his own website.  So you can view this and so much more just by clicking his name!


Rita Barger: Everyday is Mathematical.  This seminar focused on how you could turn every day you teach and even every day in the year into a special mathematical day for your students to engage more wholly in math.  This idea is much the same as Pi Day, or metric week, but using this technique you make your own days up such as Prime Day or Double Prime Day.  You use what you know about mathematics to create your own day to teach the students about fundamental theorems and get them involved in configuring future dates and trying to figure out what the day could also be named.  I think this could be a fun way to do bellringers, and a fun way to bring out mathematical vocabulary and get students to really thinking about numbers.  You start to view numbers not just as any old number, but you view them as their possibilities... like a Fibonacci, or a prime, or a pattern.

Henry Borenson:  Do Word Problems Scare the Daylights Out of Your Students.  VERY cool seminar on how to work word problems using manipulatives.  I got a FREE set, and I bought a few things for my classroom because I found it so easy that my kids could easily be engaged in this.  What a great aid!  Essentially students use colored pawns and number cubes to set up a word problem and then use "legal moves" to solve for the unknown and solve the problem.  Click on the name to go to the website that talks about this.

Now.. I did not get to go to every seminar I wanted to :(.  Not enough time :(.   BUT.  I did want to spend a hot second talking about some of the exhibits I saw.

Mathletics - I got to meet Scott Flansburg and get a live demonstration of his website.

Textbook Exhibitors - I got to compare a lot of different textbooks and found out who has iPad compatible textbooks.  By accident I met MathyCathy a fellow educator and learned about the hyped up textbook her school is using.   Visit MathyCathy's blog.  She truly is a phenomenal educator!

There were TONS and TONS of exhibitors showing off the latest and greatest in software and manipulatives.  LOTS of freebies!  It was FUN.

So a special thank you to my school for sending me, paying for it, and making sure I was in a great hotel!

Now its time to put this knowledge to work!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

THEME Change!

All of my previous posts have chronicled my thoughts and things that I have learned while I was getting my Master's degree.  Well, that milestone has passed, I am officially educated, and now it is time to chronicle something entirely different. 

A Perspective From The Eyes of a First Year Teacher

Yep, I have a teaching position for the 2012-2013 school year.  As a matter of fact, I had several offers.  Many I declined to teach at one special school where my heart was, and then I had to turn that one down as well for personal reasons.  I found my home though at a beautiful private school where the challenge will be to overcome my fear of speaking about God in the classroom, because this year it isn't against the law!  What a blessing for me!

Teaching wise, there are many challenges though:

1) I have crossed the state line, so Texas TEKS are no longer the standard, Louisiana uses Common Core Standards.

2) From what I've digested, these students may be a bit behind.

3) I will be teaching 3 different grades that have different class levels!  6th grade general, 6th grade advanced, 7th grade general, 7th grade advanced, and 8th grade general.  (Yep... 5 Lesson Plans a Day!)

4) This is a TECHNOLOGY school!!  That is exciting, but a challenge too because the parents and administration want that technology in those lesson plans, so iPads, Apps, Apple TV's, Smart Boards, and more are going to be integrated into every single lesson.

I plan to chronicle not only in classroom lessons that I learn along the way, but also the dynamic of religion in the classroom, so the blog may be varied in content.

Now it is time to get off of here and work on my lesson plans! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Art of the Interview

Every year as spring rolls towards the end of the school year, all teachers are doing two things: (1) either praying their contract is renewed, or (2) looking for a job.  For new teachers the task is daunting.  I can surely write that and know the truth in the statement, because here I am, a new teacher, interviewing.  If preparation for interviews and sitting through panels of employers wasn't nerve wracking enough, the fact that there are fewer jobs to go around due to budget cuts is down right scary.  I personally know teachers' whose contracts were not renewed, and now they are vying for the same job all the recent graduates are searching for, and all the other teachers' whose contracts weren't renewed are searching for.  I have been on several interviews this year, and this is what I have learned:

1) Your resume is important, your references are important.  Bring plenty of copies of each.
2) Know your teaching philosophy.  Do you demand obedience from your students?  Do you like peer interaction?  What are your goals in assessment?  I haven't had an interview yet that hasn't had that question.
3) Smile.  Yes it is serious, but the face you show your perspective employer is the face they are picturing in front of their students. 
4) Be up to date on the teaching standards for the grade you are applying for.  How can you teach effectively without knowing what the students are expected to master?
5) This one is my personal advice.  Be genuine.  They can see through a fake person just like you can.  Be genuine about your goals, your personality, and about WHY you want to be a teacher.  I'll give you a hint, if your reason is about you, then you are in the wrong profession.
6) Only apply where you want to teach.  I know that sounds silly, but if you don't like the campus or feel unsafe at the facility, how effective are you going to be in the classroom if you are worrying about other things?

I don't think that I need to go over the standard important things like dress professionally, brush your teeth and hair LOL, so I won't bother.  As I sit here typing this, I am pondering my next interview.  A panel of 9 people who will decide if I am the right fit for their school.  A new teacher with only a year of experience under the belt and that experience through substitute classrooms and intervention rooms.  I do wish everyone the best of luck who is doing the same thing I am and through such tough economic times.  Happy Interviewing! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Research Proposal Thoughts

       As I embark on my last month of school there are so many things going on.  I am looking at making a move, working, looking for work, and I've made my final decision on my research proposal.  Initially when I started this program, I knew that I wanted my research to focus on creativity in the classroom.  I changed from that to how lack of creativity produces apathy in students, and completely jumped to my current topic dealing with mathematics and intervention on a Tier 3 level.

     I am in the midst of writing a research proposal that focuses on the effects of the position I now hold in a rural East Texas school.  I was brought in as an outside contractor to provide math intervention services for students identified as "struggling" as well as additional intervention for special education students in the 3rd and 4th grade.   My participants come to me for 45 minute increments in a small group setting.  I focus on foundational math concepts such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and word problems.  This research topic started somewhat because I began utilizing a website called Arcademic SkillBuilders to assess their performance each week in multiplication and division.  I wanted to assess if their accuracy in problem solving was improving and if their response time was improving as well. 
 
     For my research proposal I am doing an quantitative experimental study involving a control group of students not receiving intervention, and a group of students who will receive the additional intervention.  I hypothesize that the additional mathematical intervention will improve students accuracy and response time on foundational math problems.  My null hypothesis is that the additional intervention will not result in an increase in problem accuracy or an improvement in their response time. 

     For the next few days I will be focusing on gathering my reference articles for my literature review, and writing my introduction draft which is due this upcoming week.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Arcademic Skill Builder

I had to write a separate post about Arcademic Skill Builders because I am just in awe of this FREE online tool.  Currently I have a position in a school doing classroom reduction and intervention services in Math for 3rd and 4th graders.  After asking my fellow teaching classmates about great internet tools for Math, I was turned on to Arcademic Skill Builders (ASB).  Let me cut to the chase and tell you what is so great:

1)  FREE
2) Lots of FUN games for 5th grade and younger
3) Teachers can sign up for a FREE account and load their students into their class.
4) Multiple classes?  That's okay, you can break your students into groups.
5) You can assign certain games for your students to play.
6) Your students can play with each other on their own computer, or anonymously with other students who are online.
7) Your students can create private  games where they play against the computer or only the people they give the password to.
8) Teachers can CREATE their own games.
9) ASSESSMENT: ASB comes with a reporting tool for teachers that will analyze what each individual student is doing.  Response times, Highest Missed, Highest Hit, and Accuracy.

The assessment capabilities of this tool allow teachers to redirect their instruction to what individual students NEED the most.  I am using this tool on what I call "fun Friday".  All week we work hard and on Fridays the kids play games... I get to see how we are progressing and if that work is paying off.  This tool is excellent for those teachers who are using standard based grading.  (SBG)  SBG is something I will post later about, but it is a movement in the way we are assessing and grading our students that is beneficial to students, teachers, parents, and administrators.  More on that in a later post though.

I can't thank the great teachers enough who turned me onto this program, and of course the creators!  Thanks for providing a GREAT tool for FREE!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Arriving towards the home stretch

We are getting really close to graduation!  I can really say I couldn't be more excited.  I need a break!  Currently we are in the spring semester.  We walk the stage at the beginning of May, but officially graduate at the end of May once our huge research proposal is submitted.  I know this is going to be horrible to say, but the Research class is killing me.  It mentally wears me out and I'm having a hard time making heads or tails of it, but I think its because I'm more of a doer than a sit and read about it.  Things tend to make more sense when I have practical application.  I know that time is coming soon so hopefully then I'll be able to connect all the dots.

The most interesting thing that I'm learning right now has to do with accurate assessments.  This is really interesting because while many educators feel they know how to do accurate assessment, going through this class makes you realize there are lots of things to learn about implementing the proper assessments.  I've realized that the majority of assessments I've been exposed to have been knowledge based assessments which is why students struggle when having to apply what they've learned.  Their exercises aren't in practical use, application, or deep thinking, they are in base knowledge that many students use memorization to learn just so they can pass the test, and then they do what I call the "data dump".  The key is for the teacher to plan the type of learning that needs to occur, figure out how that learning will be tested, and then make the lesson plans to target that learning.  Along the way it is essential to understand that the students need more information than we've ever thought about giving them.  Check lists, guidelines, rubrics, and learning outlines are desperately needed so the students know where they are going.  I've observed and been in very few classes that offer these types of tools for their students, so it would be very interesting to see how providing this improves student learning and engagement.  Maybe that will be for my NEXT research topic. 

My current research topic is coming into focus, and now I'm exploring new ways to gather sources for my proposal.  Since I am not in a classroom on a full time basis, I do not have the ability to put the research proposal into action, but I am fervently praying that will not be the case come the fall.  I am actively searching for a teaching position in my area.  The problem I've encountered so far, is that the openings in the schools I want to teach in aren't in the grade areas I'm certified to teach in.  Until I graduate, I can't take further certification exams to certify in other areas either.  So, I'll either get a hiring principle willing to let me certify later in the year, or get a position that I'm currently certified to teach in and broaden my horizons from there.

Now it is time for me to hit the books and do more research.  Until next time!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring Mid-Terms already!

It is time for Spring 2012 mid-terms, and as I've been teaching and attending classes I suddenly realized there hasn't been an update in my blog postings in ages. 

Educationally:

Mid-term papers are due this week in both my research course and my curriculum and assessment course.  Graduation is coming up very soon!  I have one more class in May term before I officially have my MEd.   I can't believe how fast the year as flown!  My research mid-term paper is focusing on my class main research assignment which is studies the effects of educational play in the curriculum on apathy and active participation.  I've never been a "hard-nosed" teacher, and I think that what is really lacking in many classrooms is the element of play.  Students are getting less time to imagine, create, and explore through play and because we know play effects cognitive, social, and emotional development, I think we are seeing those effects in our classrooms.  My notion is an educational play type curriculum.  The development of this type of curriculum that other teachers could access and incorporate in their current curriculum would really be phenomenal. 

Professionally:

My time as a long term substitute for 5th grade Science students is up, and I'm taking a short break and substituting as needed until I take up my last long term position for the year.  I will begin teaching 7th grade Social Studies in mid April through the end of the school year for a teacher who is taking his sick days as part of his retirement.  He essentially will begin his retirement vacation early, and I will get more classroom experience.
Test wise, I have passed both my PPR and my EC-6 certification exams and am awaiting graduation so that my teaching certification will be released.  Then I will be concentrating on even more tests to take so that I can increase my chances of being hired and increase the areas in which I can teach.  When I began this journey I was really focused on teaching Math, and now I've found that there are many subjects I would like to explore and teach.  What an amazing  journey this has been.

Next:
In the future, I am going to post some interesting finding concerning assessments and their importance. I found that one thing I was doing while teaching was making a lot of assessments with only the knowledge that I'd "test" on what we've gone over in class.  What I've learned is more about preparation, and that is what I will be covering soon.  Until next time, God Bless You.