Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 3: New World, Old World.

I love how Michael Matera begins this chapter.
He states, “As an educational explorer, you have creative confidence to forge out into the unknown. Trust in the process, and believe in yourself.”
This first sentence of chapter 3 really made me think. I think one reason that so many teachers do not try new strategies or playing games because there is the fear of the unknown. I know I have definitely been there? Have you?
There have been times when I wanted to to try something new and I stopped, unsure and not believing in myself or that something would work. Michael Matera is absolutely correct when he says that we have to “trust in the process, and believe in yourself.” Without those two things, we can not begin to gamify the classroom and bring our teaching into the New World!

According to Michael Matera, using gamification in the classroom will bring us from the Old World of teaching into the New World of teaching. Instead of controlling, we have have freedom and flexibility. Instead of producing followers, we will produce risk takers. Instead of a plotted path, there will be a sense of exploration and discovery. In the place of quiet compliance, there will be creative confidence. In the Old World, there was an automations of knowledge but in the New World we have independent artistic thinkers. We will also create heroes and a sense of wanderlust, spirit, and passion. These are all ways that every teacher wants to connect and inspire their students. I AM SOLD! 🙂

Another line that stood out for me was, “We are not teaching standards, we are teaching students-children who have passions, questions, and the drive to make a difference.” Too often, teaching the standards are thought of first. How can I teach the standards? What standard does this lesson teach? We have to remember that we are teaching students first. By gamifying the classroom, students become self motivated and overcome challenges. The children are invested in their learning. What teacher does not want his or her children to be self-motivated and invested in their learning?

As I continued reading chapter 3, I realized how once the children are familiar with the game setting or levels, it is easy to make a change. Often times we learn something new in at a conference, a meeting, or at staff development and we don’t implement it right away. We say, “I’ll wait for next semester, or next year.” Once our classroom is gamified, we don’t have to wait to make a change or to introduce something new that we learned. We can do use that strategy or new material the very next day! YES! I don’t know about you…but I know I am definitely guilty of not implementing something new until the next year. Do you do the same?

I love Michael Matera’s example of his scavenger hunt while studying Egypt. I never really thought of doing a scavenger hunt. I’m already thinking about how to incorporate a scavenger hunt with my kiddos. Have I mentioned that I am STILL in school. I have 5 days left. This might be a perfect time to try something new!

Any thoughts on how I can incorporate a scavenger hunt maybe in geometry with my 2nd graders? Maybe a shape is missing to construct a building and I can have riddles for the students to follow… HMMMM.

I can’t wait to share chapter 4 with you!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Click below to go back to read what others have to say about chapter 3.
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Your Curriculum is Just A Tool!!!

Hi everyone. Are you tired of hearing your admin say, “The reading curriculum is just a tool. Use the material anyway you want.”? Really, REALLY!!

How many of you have heard this phrase? Is it true? I’m not sure. We all change the lessons to meet the needs of our children. But what happens when you have to rewrite the whole damn curriculum? I’m sure many of you have done just that. The schools pay all of this money for a curriculum and we have to spend all of our time to create lessons that actually work.

You might be wondering which reading curriculum I am using. Well, I don’t know if you have heard of the awesome Pearson company (I almost feel like they are the Evil Empire!) In NYC, Pearson seems to be in charge of almost all of the curriculum, assessments, and State Exams.

So we are told to use ReadyGen as a tool. So everyday I rewrite the curriculum and teach the skills or lessons how I want to and in the style that will most benefit my kiddos.

I started to teach each lesson focusing on a 15 minute mini-lesson and then small group work (which is definitely not in the program. :() I incorporate the science or social studies text books or articles on the topics. I added in A LOT of writing because there only seems to be response to literature in ReadyGen’s writing component.

How else can I make this curriculum just a tool? I started to make interactive notebooks for the books that we have to use in our lessons. The only part of ReadyGen that is ok are SOME of the trade books used.

Last week we read A Chair for My Mother. I absolutely love this book, but if you follow the curriculum it is boring and basically kills any enjoyment of this wonderful book. So I introduced the interactive notebook for A Chair For My Mother and my kids loved it.

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Then I had my kids design their own comfortable chair. Just take a look at some of the chairs that my kiddos created! 🙂

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Besides designing and building a comfortable chair to go along with the story, “A Chair for My Mother” students also had to write about how they created their chair and why they decided to create that chair.

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My students had so much fun with the interactive notebook, designing their comfortable chairs and their writing assignment.

My students loved using the interactive notebooks so much that I started to create them for the different trade books that we use as part of the 2nd grade ReadyGen curriculum. You can check them out by clicking here.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant. 🙂
How do you use your curriculum as just a tool?

Rachel

Common Core Standards

Since I have been reading so much about the Common Core Standards, I thought I’d repost my feelings on the CC.

Has your state implemented the Common Core Standards? I know many states have. How do you feel about the new standards?
Let me start out by saying that I feel, as do many others that many of the standards are definitely inappropriate for some of our kids. I wish we could sit down and rewrite standards that are realistic for our kiddos.

I think the biggest problem with The Common Core State Standards is the way the standards have been implemented. There has been a lack of training for both teachers and parents. The materials being created are horrible and many times are just thrown at the teachers, sometimes during the school year like ReadyGen. Read my opinion about ReadyGen here

Here is a video that was put out by Common Core for parents.

I have to tell you, I really have mixed feelings about the standards. Do I love them? No. Do I hate them? No. I am somewhere in the middle. Let’s say I am in limbo. I don’t really like them but I also don’t hate them.

I do think that there should be some type of common standards. Don’t throw anything at me please!! 🙂
I work in NYC and see many kids come in and out of the classroom from all over the country. The differences in what I see is astounding. I know that all kids are different and are at different levels. But, sometimes there is such a drastic difference in what they know. I am in no way blaming any teachers!!

I think there is a lot of misconceptions about The Common Core Standards. We have taught many of these strategies or skills before the Common Core was introduced. I think they have just been bumped up to unrealistic standards for our kids.

As I look through Facebook posts and see the posts about solving math, I cringe. People complain about the solving of the math problem as “Look at the Common Core Standards!” I look at the problem and think, “That’s not the Common Core Standards. That’s a strategy or a way to solve the problem.” Many of the complaints I see is that the common core makes solving problems more complicated. Do we teach complicated methods sometimes? Yes. But remember some of the kids do need the visuals to understand concepts. For years we have used manipulatives to teach regrouping. Now, we draw out the cubes in place value charts and show how to regroup. What’s the big deal? Do all of my kids like it? No! If the kids know how to regroup and can explain how and why to regroup, then I let them do the work any way they want.

I read a blog post today from Common Core and So Much More where a math journal from 1993 was compared to a math journal from this year. The teacher found out that there really was not much of a difference. You can read about it here I totally agree with the author of Common Core and So Much More!! I used that same math journal to teach my third graders for years and many of the strategies are the same ones we use today. I would get letters from parents back then stating they were confused on the math strategies.

As teachers, it is our job to teach different strategies or methods to our students so that each student can find the strategy that works best for them.
Are some of the strategies confusing? Yes, they are. Do I like them all? No, but I still teach them.
You may ask, “If you don’t agree with the strategy or the way something is taught, then why teach it?” I teach the “confusing” strategy because even if just one kid who struggling with the concept before can compute with accuracy, then it was well worth it!

As a parent of a fourth grader and a second grade teacher, it is amazing how the kids like to use different strategies. My son Alex, uses math strategies that sometimes I have a hard time understanding. I have to have him show or explain it to me a few times before I know what he is talking about. He is one of those kids who likes to use the unpopular strategies of decomposing numbers.

Like I said, I don’t necessarily agree with all of The Common Core Standards but I do what I have to do to reach every student (even teach the unpopular and “confusing” strategies.) 😉

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.

Rachel

It Feels So Good to Be Bad

Sometimes it feels so good to be bad.
I must confess…lately I feel like my class is so boring. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are always laughing (usually at me, which might or might not be a good thing!)

It’s so hard to find the time to do fun things in the classroom anymore. Everything needs to be “rigorous” and graded with a rubric. What happened to having art in the class? What happened to reading for enjoyment? Since the introduction of the Common Core, it seems like people have gone off the deep end.

Why can’t I hang art work up without student writing? Why do I have to have a rubric with a grade on every single piece of work? Why do I need to include a self reflection and a peer reflection on EVERYTHiNG?

I have to confess, I have a whole stack of papers that I would love to hang up in the room but I do not have all of the necessary paperwork to go with it!

So this week, I had my kids do portraits of a character. We read A Chair for My Mother (part of ReadyGen reading program) and Something Special for Me by Vera B. Williams. I had the students whip out their crayons and markers and draw a portrait of Rosa. It was so nice to see the kids excited.

The first question my kiddos asked, “Do we have to write a paragraph on Rosa?” I had to think for a minute about keeping it fun. Of course my kids love poetry, who doesn’t? I had them write any type of poem they wanted as long as they described Rosa. They were thrilled. Hey, it’s still Common Core right??? (RL.2.7)

After the kids left for the day, I hung up their portraits of Rosa. NO RUBRIC, NO SELF REFLECTIONS, NO PEER REFLECTIONS, NO GLOWS AND GROWS, NO COMMENTS!!
You know what? It felt good. No, it felt great! My kids came in the next day and saw all of their work (the good, the bad, and the ugly.)
You know what I mean 🙂

I felt like a rebel. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone. Take a look at some of their portraits of Rosa.

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I love how she spelled intelligent (antelegent)

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What have you done in your class lately that has made you feel like a rebel?

Thoughts on the Common Core

Has your state implemented the Common Core Standards? I know many states have. How do you feel about the new standards?
Let me start out by saying that I feel, as do many others that many of the standards are definitely inappropriate for our kids. I wish we could sit down and rewrite standards that are realistic for our kiddos.

I think the biggest problem with The Common Core State Standards is the way the standards have been implemented. There has been a lack of training for both teachers and parents. The materials being created are horrible and many times are just thrown at the teachers, sometimes during the school year like ReadyGen. Read my opinion about ReadyGen here

Here is a video that was put out by Common Core for parents. I am not a fan of this video!

I have to tell you, I really have mixed feelings about the standards. Do I love them? No. Do I hate them? No. I am somewhere in the middle. Let’s say I am in limbo. I don’t really like them but I also don’t hate them.

I do think that there should be some type of common standards. Don’t throw anything at me please!! 🙂
I work in NYC and see many kids come in and out of the classroom from all over the country. The differences in what I see is astounding. I know that all kids are different and are at different levels. But, sometimes there is such a drastic difference in what they know. I am in no way blaming any teachers!!

I think there is a lot of misconceptions about The Common Core Standards. We have taught many of these strategies or skills before the Common Core was introduced. I think they have just been bumped up to unrealistic standards for our kids.

As I look through Facebook posts and see the posts about solving math, I cringe. People complain about the solving of the math problem as “Look at the Common Core Standards!” I look at the problem and think, “That’s not the Common Core Standards. That’s a strategy or a way to solve the problem.” Many of the complaints I see is that the common core makes solving problems more complicated. Do we teach complicated methods sometimes? Yes. But remember some of the kids do need the visuals to understand concepts. For years we have used manipulatives to teach regrouping. Now, we draw out the cubes in place value charts and show how to regroup. What’s the big deal? Do all of my kids like it? No! If the kids know how to regroup and can explain how and why to regroup, then I let them do the work any way they want.

As teachers, it is our job to teach different strategies or methods to our students so that each student can find the strategy that works best for them.
Are some of the strategies confusing? Yes, they are. Do I like them all? No, but I still teach them.
You may ask, “If you don’t agree with the strategy or the way something is taught, then why teach it?” I teach the “confusing” strategy because even if just one kid who struggling with the concept before can compute with accuracy, then it was well worth it!

As a parent of a third grader and a second grade teacher, it is amazing how the kids like to use different strategies. My son Alex, uses math strategies that sometimes I have a hard time understanding. I have to have him show or explain it to me a few times before I know what he is talking about. He is one of those kids who likes to use the unpopular strategies of decomposing numbers.

Like I said, I don’t necessarily like The Common Core Standards but I do what I have to do to reach every student (even teach the unpopular and “confusing” strategies.) 😉

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment below.