Tuesday, March 20, 2007

INTASC Standard #1

Making Content

“The teacher understands the central concepts,
tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline
that he or she teaches and can create learning
experiences that make these aspects of subject
matter meaningful for students.”

I try to make our class writing assignments meaningful to the studetns by assigning topics that are important and exciting for them to write about. EX: The first story is an assignment where we did a lot of brainstorming and we thought of each of our five senses and what they experienced when we were in a certain special place. The second and third stories are of an assignment using voice where the students had to speak as if they were their pet. They thought this was so funny to really express what their pet was thinking and would say.

This year I was introduced to a new way to teach division. Our fifth grade teachers are getting their math endorcements and when they explained this "new" way I was hooked. It makes so much more sense and it is how we would do division in the "real world". Our students have connected much better to this way and they can easily explain why they are doing each step. This has been a wonderful learning experience for me and I've found that my students are doing so much better just because there is a purpose they understand to each step!<

Each student
covered and decorated their own journal to use throughout the year. The students communicate their thoughts and feelings or privatly share anything they choose.


I have come to realize in the last few years of teaching that it doesn’t matter how fun a lesson is, if the students don’t have personal connections to it they won’t learn from it and they won't remember it. I have made a more conscious effort to make sure my lessons are authentic and meaningful to my fourth graders. By putting the focus on them, their interests, their passions, their experiences, they come to realize that what we are learning is significant to them personally and will put a greater effort into learning.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

INTASC Standard #2

Knowledge of
Human Development
and Learning

“The teacher understands how children learn and
develop, and can provide learning opportunities
that support a child’s intellectual, social, and
personal development.”

I have partnered these girls up for budd reading due to their reading level. The read a passagp so they can model fluent reading and the lower reader can learn from their peer.

We use individual whiteboards with math. My students are always excited to use them as a whole group or with partners. They will hold up their answers and I can easily observe who is understanding the concepts. When they make a mistake or get the answer wrong they just erase and start over. Some of them really like using the dry erase markers "like the teacher" it gives them motivation and encouragement.
I try to involve as many manipulatives with our math core as I can. When the students can touch, see, and manipulate what they what we are working on they understand so much more. They can each "see" how it all fits together.

Students learn best when all of their emotional, social, physical, and intellectual needs are met. I have seen a huge difference in students' learning when they have all of their needs met and they feel safe, healthy, loved, and secure. They also do better and understand more when we, as teachers, are able to give them many concrete learning experiences. They need to manipulate objects, participate in discussions, have opportunities to teach and share.

Friday, March 16, 2007

INTASC Standard #3

Adapting Instruction for
Individual Needs

"The teacher understands how students differ in
their approaches to learning and creates
instructional opportunities that are adapted
to diverse learners.”


We are doing Rocket Math in our classroom this year and hopefully many years to come. Every student was tested when we began to find out what level they were on as far how quickly they are able to write and their times tables knowledge. Each student started on their individual level and we work on times tables 5 min. at the beginning of math. Some students stay longer on each level and some are moving through quickly. The basis of this program is to see individual imporvement and it helps the students master their math facts at their pace on their own level.

Meeting with one of the guided reading groups.
I understand that each student in my class is on a different learning
level and therefore need differentiated instruction.

Leveled Reading Groups Chart- Here are some examples of graphic organizers I have used this year. Each group will use different organizers to enahance comprehension-I love graphic organizers too, because they make the students think about, visualize, and write about what they are reading.
I believe that children develop at their own level and speed and teachers need to direct their instruction accordingly. Throughout the year, we focused on finding lessons and activities that were appropriate for every level we had in our classroom, all the while keeping high expectations for all the children. When students get needed instruction that is at their Zone of Proximal Development, it gives them confidence, they can see their growth, instead of their learning defecit, it truly makes a huge difference in what they are able to accomplish.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

INTASC Standard #4

Multiple Instructional

“The teacher understands and uses a variety of
instructional strategies to encourage student
development of critical thinking, problem solving,
and performance skills.”
Reading Center time in my classroom is a favorite with my students. I have different activities set up in different areas of my room and the students rotate to each center. Each day we do centers, the students have an opportunity to practice skills in reading, spelling, math, motor skills, and art or science. This picture shows the reading groups and their assignments and we use arrows showing which center they rotate to different days.

lTo help our struggling readers get the extra support they need, we are doing reading interventions this year. At the first of the year we tested the students on phonics, comprehension, spelling, and fluency. We regularly meet with the students who are at risk in any area and need extra help and motivation.
I believe that teachers should be familiar with many different ways to teach to account for different learning styles. They should encourage active discovery of new ideas and unique ways of thinking about things. They should plan activities that encourage cooperation among peers. But most importantly, teachers should be aware of the abilities and needs of each student in their classroom and encourage each child to do their personal best. I have made a more conscious effort this year to account for diverse learners and to make sure I am being accommodating to the special needs of everyone in my classroom. I have come to realize that being “fair” does not mean that everyone gets the same thing, but that everyone gets what they need. I think our students have an advantage here because we have two different teachers in our classroom, which means they see things presented in different styles and from different view points

Monday, March 12, 2007

INTASC Standard #5

Classroom Motivation
and Management

“The teacher uses an understanding of individual
and group motivation and behavior to create a
learning environment that encourages positive
social interaction, active engagement in learning,
and self-motivation.”


I write the anticipated schedule on the board every morning. It lets the studetns know what is planned for the day and they can easily find where we are in the day and what we have left. I find this helps to avoid the dreaded questions students love to ask "What are we doing next?" or "How much longer til P.E.?"

This is a copy of goals someone made for themself. We had some issues earlier in the year with students treating some other students disrespectfully. After class discussions and involving Mrs. Brown, our principal, I decided to have the students make goals to work on so this problem woudn't continue, but the opposite could happen. They have focused on getting to know others better, treating others kindly, and being empathetic instead of teasing.

This is a sample of a tracker I used many times last year to communicate with parents about the behavior and work accomplished. I haven't needed to use one this year as I haven't had any sevier individual behavior problems.

These are my 4th graders enjoying "extra P.E." As a fourth grade team we decided last year to give the students an incentive to turn in all their work throughout each week. Those who finish their work go to extra PE, and extra computer time. The ones who have work to complete stay in one of our classrooms to finish and get help. I, of course, make decisions about schoolwork on an individual basis based on absences, resource schedule, and other circumstances. This year I have had tremendous support from parents. I had parents comment at parent teacher conferences that it was a wonderul idea and their child comes home at night getting work finished "so they can go to extra PE on Friday".

Our fourth grade yard sale. May 2007
Yard Sale- These are a favorite. Students in the 4th grade are rewarded with "money" with which they use to sharpen pencils, go to the bathroom, and they must pay for any rule breaking or bad behavior. They are rewarded when the show good behavior. Four times during the year we have "yard sales". The students bring things from home and sell them and use their money to buy things from other students. I also bring new and used items to sell. They sure are using their "life skills" as they try to talk down a price for something they really want. Everyone goes home with something new and fun!!! The kids love it!

Looking back at last year compared to this year my management and daily routines have changed a bit. I had a completly different set of 4th graders with totally different personalities than I do this year. Last year I had some studetns who tested their boundries and my limits every day and it was a struggle. I often felt that 1/2 the day was used in dealing with discipline issues and problems. This year I have been able to throw out a lot of the things I had to do last year just to motivate some of the students who had a very difficult time following the rules. This year I don't need as many creative ways to get their attention or get them excited to get rewards. This year my class just follows the rules because they know it's expected. We can play games with our lessons and they can handle being in charge of themselves or working with partners when last year it seemed to much of a struggle. Motivation and classroom management needs to be altered every year depending on the personalities in the class.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

INTASC Standard #6


“The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal,
nonverbal, and media communication techniques
to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and
supportive interaction in the classroom.”


Creating shared vocabulary stories is one of my favorite things to do in my classroom. With with this activity, my students collaboratively come up with a story and I act as a scribe. I love the conversation that my students have together with our vocabulary words as they share ideas and negotiate story plots. This activity helps students to verbalize their thoughts and ideas in a group and I can observe to see if they understand the meanings of our vocabulary words.

Using bulletin boards for the students to refer to after we have studies a unit is a favorite. I beleive that if the students have that visual to refer to, even after it is taken down, they can picture it again in their minds and use the the information. We have our reading strategies, vocabulary words, and six traits writing up on the walls to refer to, also.
So I don't have to waist the students' time by calling roll each morning- We, as a class, effectivly communicate through our morning routine. They quietly enter the class and move their clip for breakfast and lunch. I can then take roll without having to disrupt the class as they work on their self-start.
Everyone knows their responsibility in our classroom, as they are posted on the back cabinet.


I believe children need to communicate in order to learn. They need opportunities for group interaction and a safe environment in which they feel comfortable in asking questions and expressing opinions. I strive in my classroom to provide many opportunities for students to talk to me and to each other.
I also believe that my students need personal communication with me everyday. When I talk to my students as a friend and equal instead of as an authority figure, I see a huge difference in how they respond to me. They work harder and behavior problems are much fewer. I realize that the way I speak and act towards my students says a lot to them about their worth and their place in the classroom. I work hard to make sure each one of them feels loved, needed, and respected. We have had many discussions and activities as a class encouraging them all to use effective communication towards everyone.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

INTASC Standard #7

Planning Skills

“The teacher plans instruction based upon
knowledge of subject matter, students, the
community, and curriculum goals.”


Our 4th grade team members work very closely together. Each week we meet together to discuss the happenings and to plan instruction for the next week. As we share our ideas and insights with one another, we make each other better and provide our fourth graders with the best experience and instruction possible. We meet to plan long term, as well, such as our science and social studies core and rotations and to map out our yearly math core.

Weekly planning of lessons has been invaluable to me during my first years of teaching. Each week (sometimes daily) since my first day of teaching I have sat down with my team to look back on the week’s events and to plan instruction for the next week. We discuss what we notice about the kids in our classrooms (because we rotate and see each others students every week)and decide where to go from there. Each time we meet we decide what to teach based on our students—what they do well, what they need, what their personalities are, and what they need to know to succeed. When we collaborate together as a team, we build off of each other and each one of our strengths contributes to the overall good of the fourth grade of Discovery Elementary.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

INTASC Standard #8

Assessment of
Student Learning

“The teacher understands and uses formal and
informal assessment strategies to evaluate and
ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and
physical development of the learner.”
We keep track of all the important scores for which we want to put in the computer in a grade book so we have a hardcopy. We have had parents come into the class on short notice and it is great to have this as a reference for missing work and scores.
I believe the best way to really become informed on how a student is doing in a certain area is to observe them. I truly know how each student is doing with their understanding of a certain math concept becuase of the observations I conduct everyday. I will usually stop a few students and ask them to show me one problem and talk me through the process of getting their answer. If they can do that and I see their logic I make mental notes or jot them down. I know if a student looks to me for words and numbers they are confused and need more instruction from me or from a peer.

I try to do one-minute timings everyday. Doing this, I usually listen to every individual and see their progress every few weeks.


I believe that assessment is best used to help teachers identify strengths and weaknesses of their students and to drive their future instruction. Knowing where their students are is the only way that teachers can know where to go and what to teach next. Teachers need to use the assessments to determine interventions that will benefit their students, and to see if the interventions that they have been doing are working. I believe that teachers should use a variety of assessments so that they get an accurate view and understanding of how a student is progressing. I believe that teachers should also share assessment information with parents to let them know how to help their child at home. There have been many times I have to completely change my plans for the next week because of the results of an assessment showing me the kids were not ready to move on; or vise-versa and we had to move on more quickly than I anticipated because of the mastery of a concept.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

INTASC Standard #9

Professional Commitment
and Responsibility

“The teacher is a reflective practitioner who
continually evaluates the effects of his or her
choices and actions on others (students, parents,
and other professionals in the learning community)
and who actively seeks out opportunities to grow


This is a book we studies during professional development. I learned a lot from this book as I provided an outline from a chapter and as a group we went around to each others classroom to look at the environment and get ideas and critique each other.

I have taken and passed both the Elementary Content Knowledge, and the Principals of Learning and Teaching k-6 required Praxis Series Tests to be considered highly qualified as an educator.
I have found that being a life long learner is absolutely necessary as a teacher. I learn new ideas and I get motivated from the workshops offered by the school district. I try to use my time wisely and learn and plan as we have school-wide professional development. I believe there are always new and better developments and strategies that we need to be aware of and implement as educators.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

INTASC Standard #10


“The teacher fosters relationships with school
colleagues, parents, and agencies in the larger
community to support students’ learning and

Josh Davis, who had just returned from serving in Iraq for a year, came to speak to our class. This was part of a service/writing project we were beginning with our students. He spoke about what his job was in Iraq, he explained why our country is over there, and the progess they have made and how they are helping the Iraqi people. He also showed pictures and shared stories about the Iraqi schools and children he had met. The children were captivated and loved asking questions.

We used the learned and practiced the writing process as we wrote letters to the service men and women in Iraq. LTC Sam Davis of Brigham City is serving in Iraq and eagerly agreed to recieve the letters and pass them out to others. It was amazing!!! 2 months later (the day before Christmas break) our class recieved 28 letters, one to each student, from Iraq. We spent a good part of the day sharing our letters as a class. Some of the letters included pictures and personal stories; some were so touching there were no dry eyes in the classroom. Our class made great friends throughout this experience and we became more aware of what is going on outside of our small community. The entire class shared how appreciative we were for the service and time away from their families each of these servicemen and women were giving, to not only our country but to others.

It is now tradition in our class that we invite parents to come in and share with us their family holiday traditions, tell us about the holiday in another place, or read a favorite holiday story with our class. The studetns absolutely love to share and invite parents into our class.

Utah Water Works visited our classroom and shared valuable information about the water cycle, and taking better care of our water. They particularly paid attention to the 4th grade science core. They brought a visual that really showed our class how the water cycle works and we were challenged with some follow-up activites. We also were able to see examples of the water cycle and do some hands-on actvities when the Utah Aquarium came to visit our 4th grade classes this fall.

I have 4 mothers who have commited to come in a certain day and time every week. One mother works with the students who are struggling with certain math concepts. She used to be a teacher and is excellent with her organization and teaching skills. A mother comes in to read with students one day, another mother comes in to do multiplication facts and pass them off with the students, and the other takes out the students who need to work on their sight words and phrases. They each know where their supplies are and they keep track of who the need to work with and their pass of charts. They do not need to stop me and ask me questions; they run their own systems. I am so lucky to have them to help with those things that usually "get set on the backburner" and never get taken care of.

While being at Discovery our school has become an active participant in the Gold Metal Schools program. Last year, when the studetns were introduced to the program I noticed a huge difference in their excitement to get outside and be active rather than sit inside and "be bored". Because of the very wet winter this year we haven't ran the mile quite as often but, as we are warming up we are getting outside and being more active!!! The students are thrilled about the little keychains they earn besides being healthier and more active.


I believe it is very important to build a strong relationship with each child and their parents. It was my goal 2 years ago to ask for and utilize parent volunteers. My first 2 years of teaching I asked for volunteers and was grateful to have them come in but I scrambled to find things for them to do when they arrived. It ended up being harder for me when they came in. I have set things up differently now and I am so happy with how it has been working. I feel like all my students benefit from the one-on-one they recieve and from the time in school they are able to pass off sight words and times tables.

Creating partnerships with the community is also very important. There are so many organizations and individuals who know much more about certain specialty areas than I do. My students have bennefited tremendously from the community members and their excitement and expertise.

I have seen teachers at our school who use a weekly newsletter to perfection . My goal is to have more communication with EVERY PARENT. I want to let them know what we are covering in every subject throughout the week and what specific homework their student will have...etc. I also would like to better and more frequently communicate what specific area their student is doing well and where they need to improve.