Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Back to it after Spring Break!!!

We had our spring break last week (March 11-15) and it just wasn't long enough. Don't get me wrong. I love all of my kiddos. However, sometimes it is nice to be able to just relax and not constantly be running at top speed all day long every day. It was nice here most of the week and I really enjoyed working in my yard and sitting on the deck.

The good news is that we are on the downhill slide for the school year now. Two and one half months and the 2012-2013 school year will be in our rear view mirrors. I am always so ready for the school year to end about this time of the year....but come July....I'm ready to start back and get into the swing of things again....and we don't begin school until August...so I guess I get ready a little early!!

Do you find that this time of year you are counting down the days until the end of the year? Or am I the only one that does this? Do you also seem to "chomp at the bit" to get back to the school...even a little before school is ready to begin?

I would love to hear from all of you about your thoughts!!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted

I am joining up with Mrs. Reed over at Flying into First Grade for her first ever linky party.....the topic this go round is.....Let's Get Acquainted!

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Sharing 3 things about yourself that you like or like to do using your initials.

OK...so my initials are.....DAB....so here are the three things I like using my initials.

D - is for DOUGHNUTS more specifically....Shipley's Chocolate filled doughnuts. However, even though I LOVE these things...they do not fit in with my new healthy way of eating. It doesn't stop me from loving them though!!!

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A - is for apples and asparagus.....I couldn't choose!! I really do LOVE eating these two things....together separate...it doesn't matter!! Good thing they are healthy foods!!!

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Finally... the B - is for Bubbles!!! They are just so much fun!!!

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Come on over to Mrs. Reed's Flying into First Grade and join up with us for this linky party!! I just love getting to know people!! I can't wait to get to know more about you!!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Inspirational Monday

I am once again hooking up with Dana at Fun in First Grade for her Inspiration Monday. Some Mondays, I need a little more inspiration than others.

I am really happy that we are officially in full spring break mode. I am in Lauderdale, MS at my son and daughter-in-laws house getting some much needed grandbaby time....and I am soooo enjoying it! OK..they aren't really babies...ages 10, 6, and 4.

Back to Inspiration Monday.....here are my inspirations for today! I hope they give you inspiration and help you as much as they help me.

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Everyone I know can use some inspiration from time to time!! I hope this Inspiration Monday helps you in some way!!

Come on over to Fun in First Grade and join us in Inspirational Monday.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Five for Friday

I have been seeing this Five for Friday linky going on for a few weeks now and decided that this would be the Friday that I link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching and join in on the party.
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Here goes my Five for Friday:

 1. We have been doing our district benchmark testing all week..well Tuesday through Thursday. It seems that all the teachers and kiddos were wound tight this week. I guess that is what benchmark testing does for everyone. Just wait until the end of this month when we do our comprehensive test...talk about wound tight!!! Anyway...because of this testing, I only got to pull my gifted students on Monday and Friday. Boy...did I miss them!!

2. So....my Monday and Friday groups are the only kiddos that I had in my classroom this week (I had to administer tests to one of the 4th grade classes along with the 5th grade science test). FUN!!! YeaH!!!! Annyhow....we have started a unit on Australia and I decided they would do some aboriginal art painting...........on rocks!! Do you know how difficult it is to find a decent sized rock in the Mississippi Delta? NOT EASY!!!!! However there were a few found and this activity was a huge success. Just take a look at the photos. (These are from my Monday group's rock paintings...they are 6th grade).

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Didn't they do a fabulous job on this activity? These kiddos really seemed to get into it!!

3.  I tutor several 3rd grade students in Reading after school two days per week. I still get so excited when a student shows improvement in their reading. This little sweetie started with me reading on a 1.9 grade reading level. I haven't tested her to see where she stands at this particular moment. But she began with me not being able to read a lot of the sight words. We are now using phrase cards..(yes...the ones that I have in my TpT store) and when we started using them she was only getting about 18-20 phrases in a minute. This week my little sweetie has managed to consistently swing 40 phrases per minute!!!! Woo Hoo!!!!

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OK...I took this photo on Tuesday after the tutoring session...and forgot to take another one after Thursday's session...but she hit that 40 mark on Thursday as well!! I am so proud of her!! She has really been working hard!!

4.  At 3:30 today....I will officially begin my spring break....what am I doing during my spring break you ask? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!! Yeah right! I am sure I will be cleaning and decluttering. That seems to be what I do every time I have a little time off from school. But...that is alright with me. I really am not going anywhere.

5. I am putting this one as my #5...because I will enjoy a fabulous dinner with my sweet hubbles tonight to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. NO...today is not the actual date...that would be next week on the 14th....However, the hubbles will getting chemo on that day and we have opted to celebrate tonight!

What is your Five for Friday??? Come on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and link up with yours!!!!


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Using Common Core State Standards with Gifted and Advanced Learners - Part II

Using the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced LearnersUsing the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners by Joyce L. VanTassel-Baska
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The main goal of this book as stated in the first lines of the introduction is to provide classroom teachers and administrators with some examples and strategies to implement the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts for advanced learners at all stages of development in K-12 schools.

The Common Core State Standards illustrate the curriculum emphases that are needed for students to develop the skills and concepts required for the 21st Century. There are currently 45 states that have adopted the CCSS and this gave cause for gifted education as a field to reflect on supporting gifted and advanced learners appropriately in all of the content areas. Some people feel that gifted education is not needed now because these new standards are already at such a high level. However, although these standards are strong, they will not be sufficient to accommodate the needs of many gifted learners. There will be students that have completed all of the CCSS standards prior to reaching the end of high and this will require educators to provide advanced content for them.

The 21st Century skills that receive major emphasis in this book are: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Problem Solving, Technology literacy, Information media literacy, and Cross-Cultural skills.

Differentiation is the key to unlock the potential of the gifted and advanced learners within the CCSS. The book lays out four major strategies for accomplishing this. We must, (1) provide pathways to accelerate the CCSS for gifted learners;(2)provide examples of differentiated tasks to address specific standards; (3) create interdisciplinary products/units to increase the learning for gifted students and to efficiently address multiple standards at once; and (4) create different assessments to demonstrate authentic learning has taken place.

The booklet has provided us with quite a few different specific standards with examples of how to differentiate for gifted and advanced learners. In order to sufficiently address the curricular needs of gifted and advanced learners, teachers will need to differentiate curriculum by posing progressively more complex issues, using texts according to each student's reading level and interest, modification of mathematical processes according to what has previously been mastered, and the pace of instruction.

The contributors to this booklet also gave a chapter devoted to resources to use when implementing the CCSS with gifted and advanced learners.

This is a book that I purchased to help integrate the CCSS into my own classroom while continuing to challenge my gifted students at a level that will help them grow and be ready for college and the workplace.

I am looking forward to digging much deeper and finding out just how challenging these standards can be made for those students that are highly gifted or advanced.

Here is an example of one of the standards with differentiation for gifted learners. This is for:

Grade 3 CCSS RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

Typical Learners: Students will ask and answer student-and teacher created questions regarding the plot of Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall, explicitly referring to the text to form the basis of their answers.

Advanced Learners: Advanced students will ask and answer student and teacher created questions regarding what the p lot of Patricia MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall says about courage and the life of women in the 19th century, using textual references. They will create a multimedia project that characterizes Sarah as a person of courage.

In my part I post, I stated that many times I feel that I haven't challenged my students as much as I should. After reading this book, I am certain that I have fallen far from the mark on most occasions. However, I will pick myself up and dust myself off and read and study more about CCSS to make sure that my future lessons/units are more in line with where they need to be to challenge my students adequately.

Looks like I know what I will be doing this summer.

If you have any comments, suggestions....please leave a comment. I need feedback on this. I need to know what others are doing....and is it working or not?

Toodles for now!!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Inspiration Monday

Last week, Dana at Fun in First Grade started doing an Inspiration Monday. Many people need a little extra help on Monday and I am no different. So, I am linking up with her again this week. Be sure to jump over to Fun in First Grade and check out some of the other Inspirations that have linked up.

Here are some little quotes that inspire me. I hope you find one or more that inspire you!
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Everyone could use a little Inspiration on Monday. So come on over and check out the Inspiration links and link up with your Inspiration Monday.

Toodles for now!!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Using Common Core with Gifted and Advanced Learners - Part I

With all this CCSS flying around everywhere, where does this leave the gifted and talented education? That is a question that has been floating around in my head for a little while now. I went to all the seminars at my state gifted convention to see if I got any answers. All I got was that we have to take the Common Core and stretch it higher for our gifted students. No guidance as to how to do that. At this point, I have to admit that the education I received that has allowed me to teach the Gifted and Talented hasn't really helped. Everything I've learned to do for my students has been hard fought by reading, talking to others, and trial and error. Kind of like the same way I felt when I was a first year teacher in the regular education classroom. Am I the only one that felt that way? I doubt it!

This past week, I was fortunate enough to have a friend attend a leadership meeting and she brought back the names of some books thrown out at the meeting that were good for use with Common Core. One of the books, I had already decided to purchase. So, off to Amazon I went to purchase the book and there right below it is another book, "Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners". I'm thinking....this is what I need. So...I purchased both books. The books arrived yesterday and of course, I read the one for gifted learners, first!!

These are the two books that I purchased:

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I am a pretty fast reader, but I don't want to miss anything in these books that might be beneficial for my students. So I am reading and allowing that reading to absorb for further clarification. I really want to do what is right for my gifted and talented students. Even though, I've always felt that I pretty much "flying by the seat of my pants". Oh....I plan and plan quite thoroughly, but I always feel that it wasn't quite enough. I've even voiced these concerns to fellow teachers. They all tell me that is a sign of a good teacher....I hope they are right.

I know that the curriculum that we teach in gifted classes should be qualitatively different from the curriculum that is offered in the regular education classes. The curriculum should be based on the individual students needs in regards to their personal learning rate, depth of content, difficulty of products, and the complexity of their thinking processes. Rarely do I personally feel that I've hit the mark with all of these.

Check back on Tuesday for Part II. I am going to do a book review of sorts on the "Using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts with Gifted and Advanced Learners". It will not be JUST a book review....I will also be adding some commentary on my thoughts about the book.

Please leave me a comment to let me know what you think about Common Core &/or Gifted education! I love getting and reading the comments.

Toodles for now!!!!


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Currently in March

Yep...I'm linking up again with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade for her "Currently". I had so much fun last month, I had to do it again. I'm not going to say a lot in this post. I'm saving it all for my post on Sunday or Monday when I discuss using Common Core with Gifted and Advanced learners. Be sure to check back for that post.

So on with March Currently........
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Like Dachshunds...I don't own a dog...but if I did...I think I would choose these loveable little creatures. They are just so cute.

I LOVE to drive...it really relaxes me. I know, it doesn't make sense...but put me behind the wheel and I can relax.

I HATE disruptions of any kind whether it is in my classroom or life. They really get my blood boiling. I like things tied up all nice and neat without any issues.

As for the rest of the Currently content...I think it is pretty self explanatory. But, if you have any questions...be sure to leave me a comment and I will answer.

Toodles for now!!!!