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“To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.” John Marshall

“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich

Three years ago, I decided to begin this blog as a means of sharing and communicating with other educators.
At that time, there were limited online resources for teachers.
My instruction is based on state standards. I create my curriculum to address the needs of my students, and each class requires different approaches.
I may use some of the same resources and lesson plan ideas, but everything is changed to accommodate the students.

This past school year was my 39th year of teaching, and it was the best year on so many levels.
Upon reflection, I realized that my students were more successful because I became a better listener.
My goal has always been to guide my students to be independent learners. I thought I was listening to them, but I was not totally hearing what they were saying.
In becoming a better listener, I communicated the message that they, the students, were important. As teachers, we tell the students they are important all the time, but do we actually show them how much we value them by trusting them to question, speak, and engage in their learning?
I start my planning by assessing what students know, then I create lessons that will help them learn and answer the essential questions and standards.
Because students question and discuss, I was able to listen to what they needed and provide differentiated and integrated lessons.
Since I was modeling how to listen, they became better listeners also.
My instruction never looks like the plans that are written. The students take the learning to different levels.
It was so exciting to go to work each day just to see where we would go with the lessons. We were able to go beyond the expectations and the standards.
The children knew I would listen to them, so they were influenced to set goals and do their best every day.
One major change in my instruction this year is that I provided a more seamless integration of technology. I am not the master of technology, but I do try to keep up with what the students’ s need, and work with the technology provided by the district.
Creating a class blog, where each student has their own blog, was one of the major reasons for the success of this year.
It is still a learning process for me because a class blog provides so many opportunities for continued growth and experiences.

Now it  is  time to make changes to Teacher Think Tank. I don’t know exactly how I will do this, since there are so many more formats.
So, I will continue to study and think about what needs to be done.

In the meantime, I want to share the vision and mission statements for the 2012-13 school year. I will be sharing this with parents at our Orientation Night. I don’t know yet if I will ask them for input in revising what I have written, in order to promote a team effort. I might just ask them to write their own vision and mission statements for their child’s education.

Vision Statement for My Students
My vision is a community of children who love learning, and strive to make a difference in their world.

Mission Statement for My Students
My mission, therefore, is to provide a learning environment that addresses the whole child, and provides the foundation and skills for lifelong learning.
Instruction will be standard based, and designed to meet the learning needs and promote the interests of the individual.
Students will be encouraged to engage in their learning by: setting goals; having high expectations; providing choice; and promoting reflection, discussion, conversation, and questioning.
Students will be expected to contribute their effort, core values, and learning to their homes, classroom, school, and Fox Run community.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge .”Albert Einstein

The Value of Vertical Alignment

Some of the lessons included on this website are arranged in formats that include grouping different grade levels together. Based on my classroom experience and conversations with teachers and administrators, it is clear that there is a need to cluster the lessons by grade levels in order to provide an overview of the vertical  alignment. This is helpful in planning for remediation and enrichment, since the clustering facilitates reviewing the standards in the grade level before and after the grade one may be teaching. The lessons provide the educator with the opportunity of viewing the scaffolding progression in the vertical alignment of the standards.
Even though these lessons are based on the standards of the State of Texas, they can be adapted to the standards of other states.

Best Practice Strategies Ensure Successful Learners

The language of the standards is the basis of all the questions and strategies used in these lesson plans. There are some who may say that the plans are “too difficult” for the emergent and early readers, but on the contrary, these plans provide the questions and the strategies that all students need in order to be successful learners.

The students are required to learn and understand academic vocabulary. The “Verbs” of the TEKS, (identify, compare, describe, define, explain, etc.) must be provided in a comprehensive approach.

Some of the best practice strategies for acquiring vocabulary used in these lessons reflect teaching tips and research from Dr. Robert Marzano. Language objectives and SIOP strategies are included.

Mentor Texts and Touchtone Texts Bring Lesson Plans to Life in a Fun, Engaging Manner

The Everybody Book section in the library is a treasure trove of mentor texts for ALL grade levels.

The advantages of using Everybody books for grades K-5 include:

  • A quick study of an author’s craft
  • Quality examples of language structure
  • Promotes visualization and sensory imagery
  • Engages the students into making connections
  • Story characters are believable
  • Story problem and solution are easily identified
  • Author’s purpose is clear
  • Topics can be integrated into all curriculum
  • Non-fiction facts are presented more clearly

Chapter Books are also a great resource for all grade levels.  For the primary grades, chapter books can be read aloud and children can use a Reading Response Log to journal their thoughts and connections.  Intermediate grades can also benefit from chapter books in the the read aloud format, individual reading, literature circles, and small group reading.

As with any teaching resource, it is important to adjust the plans to meet the needs and diversity in the classrooms. Pacing and any adaptations of the plans are up to the teacher.

It is my hope that these lesson plans will facilitate your instruction and promote the same success that students have experienced in my classrooms.

Have Fun!


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