Book Clubs, Tug-a-War, and M&M’s


I went into this week thinking it’d be a normal week, but I forgot, normal weeks don’t exist as a teacher. We did some fun activities that I thought would be fun to share!

Tuesday our first Scholastic book orders came in the mail. I’m trying something new this year. The Scholastic Book Club has a book a month for specific grade levels that are only $1.00. Last year, a bunch of teachers in my area were asking for donations from friends and family on Facebook to sponsor a child in their class. They were asking for individuals to donate $9.00 so they could buy a student in their class 1 $1.00 book a month for the whole year. I was apprehensive because I HATE asking anyone for money so I didn’t participate. I saw how much of a success it was for the classes that participated last year and thought I would give it a try this year to see what would happen. My friends and family were AMAZING. I got a full class worth of donations within a day.

This past Tuesday our first $1.00 book set came in. Each student got the book Frindle by Andrew Clements with a note inside saying who their sponsor is for the year and how they are connected to me. It was so adorable to see how grateful they were when they found out a stranger donated enough money for them to each receive a free book every month. It was also super cute to hear, “My sponsor is Miss Nygaard’s mom!” or “My sponsor is Miss Nygaard’s favorite cousin!” It made my day! My friends and family LOVED to see this picture and LOVED to hear how excited they were!

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Just look at how cute they are!

Last week we had our annual grade level race (that is usually a Homecoming Friday activity but was postponed due to poor weather.) The sad part was that by the time we ran (on the makeup day), it was cold and raining so we had to cut the afternoon fun short. What we usually do as a grade level after the race is have a grade level class tug-a-war tournament. Each class plays tug-a-war against every other class in their grade. Last year, when I taught 3rd grade, my class literally lost EVERY round but one, (and they only won that round because the PE teachers joined their team) it was tragic. This year, my class DOMINATED! We won every round except for 1. We only lost to the class that got 1st place who won every round. I went from having a class that was dead last, to a class that ended up being the runners up! It was awesome! They were so into it and I LOVED it! It was just as much fun for me as it was for them!

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Today I wanted to end the week with something fun. It’s Friday, who doesn’t want to do something fun? For math, we had to end our first unit reviewing bar graphs. They’ve been working with bar graphs since kindergarten so I wanted to make it fun for them. I pulled an activity I did with my 3rd graders last year (when I also taught bar graphs) that was all about graphing M&M colors. They were so excited when they found out we were working with M&M’s. You’ve probably either heard of this activity, or have done this activity before but it’s fun nonetheless. Some even said they have done this activity before with M&M’s or Skittles but they were hyped to do it again!

I found this awesome (free) TPT worksheet from Thomas Teachable Moments‘ shop that guides them through everything! Once they finished the activity, they made their own bar graphs (as their assignment.)

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Yesterday we talked about frequency tables. Students went around and found data on a question of their choosing to create their own frequency table. Today, they took that data to make their own bar graph. They thought it was awesome. It was a little chaotic but my kiddos are resilient and did a phenomenal job. Seriously, these kids are awesome.

It was a fun week but I’m exhausted. To make it even more exhausting, it’s been raining and cloudy the past few days and then today, we saw our first snow flakes of the season. I’m now sitting on my couch (drinking some wine) with candles lit and the snow falling. It feels like it’s the middle of the winter but it’s only October….only in Minnesota.

 

For more day to day action and live videos (which got featured in the #teacherlife’s story on Instagram today) go follow my teacher Instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher! Today I posted on my story an ADORABLE writing response one of my kiddos wrote about when the prompt was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and he wrote he wanted to be a teacher. His response will make you smile! Go check it out!!

First Full Week With Some ELA Fun!

The first full week is complete and I am SHOT!! Don’t get me wrong, it was a great week but man I am exhausted with this new sleep/work routine.

I love my class! I knew that last week was great but that was only 2 days. I got to have a full week of “normality” with them and was able to see their real personalities. I have a few chatty kiddos but after my overly emotional class last year with multiple chatty kids, this feels like nothing! They are also super sweet and thoughtful! I had one of my amazing kids bring me a little pick me up this morning. (His mom is a teacher so that was a major part of it but still, it made my whole day!)

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This week we started our first official reading unit/lesson. The main focus of this week was to talk about story structure/elements. Because these are 4th graders, most of them are pretty familiar with characters, setting, and plot. (Last year, even at the end of the year, some of my kids didn’t know what a setting was???) I didn’t want this week to be too dull and boring for them. I obviously love projects and doing something other than boring worksheets whenever I can so I had to look into my giant reading resources binder.

**Side note: My first year at my old school, we didn’t have the best reading curriculum (in my opinion of course.) The main idea of the curriculum was that there was one main target taught for 3 full weeks in a roll. Meaning that if the unit was on main idea, we taught main idea for 3 weeks. The down side to that, the curriculum gave us NOTHING to use for those 3 weeks. I spent many hours searching TPT and Pinterest that first year finding hundreds of activities, projects, and graphic organizers for each unit. It was a lot of work that year but I have so many great resources to use now!**

One thing that I found in the binder was a graphic organizer that I actually got from my mom (who has been teaching for 23 years.) She copied it from one of her reading resource books she bought from some teacher store (life before TPT and Pinterest.) The organizer was in the shape of a quilt square. I’m not exactly sure what it was originally made for but my mom used it to share books and certain chapters students would read. I used it as a way to share story elements from different books they have read to practice our week’s topic strategy.

They took the organizer and put the title, author, and rating (that they gave out of 5 stars) in the middle. I then had them share the setting, characters, and plot from the book. Finally, they wrote about their favorite part. Once they were finished they got to color and decorate there squares. I did this last year and took all of their quilt squares to make a giant quilt on the wall. I have yet to post their squares this year but most of them finished and did an AMAZING job. (Again, incredible kids!)

This week was a little crazy trying to get back into the groove of things but these kids made it so fun and easy. I am so excited to get back and see them on Monday!! I just have all of my fingers crossed that they stay this sweet and awesome!

Happy Friday friends!!

 

Because the summer is over and we are officially back, I am now back to posting as much as I can on my school’s instagram page! Go follow me at @lifeoftherookieteacher to see all of my day to day stories and pictures of my awesome class and our adventures!!

Assessment/Welcome Back Days

We are officially in full school mode again! School technically began for me on Tuesday but tomorrow is the first full day with the whole class together.

When I was growing up, we would have an open house the week before the first day to meet our new teacher. We could go in anytime we wanted within a 2 1/2 hour period of time. Being a teachers kid, when I got older I would help her during those couple hours. It was quick and easy and then school started one week later. My district now (and most districts in my area) have something called assessment days or welcome back days in place of open house.

Basically what we do is the week school starts (the Tuesday after labor day) those first two days are filled with one-on-one conferences with each kiddo and their family. Families book a conference slot for a 30 minute period of time where I get to connect with them, fill them in on the basics, and then sit with the student and go through all of our back to school assessments. The main assessment we have focused on is just finding their reading level and their words read per minute.

I enjoy the post assessment part when I get to sit and get to know my new kids. I try my best to build a relationship with them from the start trying to know what they like and what they may be nervous about. Most kids come in SUPER nervous and shy! (Of course not all of them, you know what students I’m talking about. The ones who have no idea who you are but are immediately comfortable with you the second they see you.) I don’t blame them in the slightest. If I had to go sit with my new teacher and read to them in an empty classroom right after I met them, I would be terrified. By the end of our 30 minutes, I’m usually able to get most of them out of their shells a little bit.

I have mixed feelings about these days. Like I said, I love getting to know my new kids and getting leveling and testing done outside class time is super nice, but I don’t like meeting all the new families one-on-one because you never know what you’re going to get. I could not sleep Monday night because I was so nervous to see what kind of families I would have. I lucked out this year with some awesome families, but I’m still not a fan. I liked how open house was only a couple hours and then you still had a whole week to prepare for your class. I finished my conferences and had to spend another 2 hours organizing all of my data and getting my room set for the kids tomorrow. But, I got it all done and it’s done for another whole year. Now I get to worry about what’s really important!

 

Here we go! I am ready and excited to start the year with the new kiddos! 4th grade, let’s do this!!

 

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER

I am pumped! Today has been an emotional day for sure. I was so excited for this day to come but when I was sitting in my room with my kiddos the last 5 minutes of the day, I realized I didn’t want them to leave. It has been such a great and amazing year.

We started the day off by moving all of our tables into one giant table. I wanted us to be together as a group for our last day instead of separated by 5 different tables. They came in and it was very chaotic (just as expected.) I had a mini word search for them to work on as something to do but most of them didn’t find that to be as exciting as laughing and talking with the rest of their friends, which is understandable. By the time they settled down we came to make a circle at the front of the classroom for our last morning meeting together.

During the meeting we did an activity that we did on the first day of school. The activity is one of my favorites that involves toilet paper (which they find to be hilarious!) I pass around rolls of toilet paper and they are told to take 1-3 pieces. (Some versions of this activity say to have them take as many as they want without telling them what it’s for but I found with 3rd graders, that was too much to handle.) On the first day of school they had to then tell myself and the class that many things about themselves, today they had to share that many memories/favorite things about 3rd grade. It was super sweet. Most of them took it pretty seriously and had some really good answers. We had some funny moments that came back up as well. It was nice for me to get a flashback of the year to remember what all happened.

I then had them go back to their spots and take out something to write with. I gave them each a blank piece of printer paper and told them to write their name in the middle and circle it. We then spent the next 15 minutes passing each sheet around the table so each student could write something nice on everyone’s piece of paper. It could be something they liked about that person, a nice memory, or a kind word. Again, most of them took this seriously and loved it. (Yes a few tried to be “funny” or “too cool” for the activity but the nice thing was that the rest of the class didn’t feed into any of that.)

Once we finished I read the great book Last Day Blues by Julia Danneberg and then we went to play outside. They went straight to specials and I took out their end of the year gifts to put at their spots. I found a pack of 24 “80’s style” sunglasses on amazon for $16.47 (prime) and  24 jump ropes for $39.75 (prime) and put together a little message to go with it. Props to Pinterest’s help on this one. I wrote each of them their own personalized card and put in the message “you shined so bright this year, now it’s time to jump into summer” into each one. (Hence the sunglasses and the jump ropes….not original, I know but easy!) Because they are sweet 8 and 9 year olds, they LOVED it!

To end the day I had put together a slideshow/video of our year together. I love taking pictures of everything we do throughout the year because I love looking back at the memories and how much they’ve grown. I also love putting it together into one movie to share with all of the families. We watched our slideshow and then took some final end of the year class pictures.

I am going to miss my class so much! We’ve had our struggles, oh yes, but they were all sweet and kindhearted and that is something I will truly miss. They have been such an incredible group of kids who cared so much about everyone else. My one goal when the year starts is to make them all love to be at school and today I got to see that I accomplished that. One of my boys who has never been afraid to tell me he hates school told me today he was very sad that school was over and that he would really miss me. He followed that up with a hug and I almost started to cry. It was everything I had worked so hard for. It’s those moments that make it all worth it.

That being said, I am very happy it is summer! I am EXHAUSTED and ready to sleep, read, swim, eat, and do whatever else I want to do when I want to do it. Tonight I plan on binging on pizza and having a nice cold one as my reward for making it through! Happy summer to my fellow teachers who are on their breaks and to all of my friends still in school, keep plugging through, you are AMAZING!!

As for me, peace out to year 2! I am so excited for year 3!!

Reading Cafe Open for Business

We are getting closer and closer to the end of the year and those school days left are decreasing fast (but not always fast enough.) At this point of the year, I am officially done with all of my required curriculum materials (expect for one more math test) so I am pulling out any and all activities I can.

One activity that I found and purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers was a Book Tasting Kit. I have seen this idea on Pinterest and through different teacher’s instagram accounts and I wanted to try it so bad. The one I bought was from Staying Cool in the Library‘s page. I think this kit is great because it has two separate kits inside of one so that it can be leveled to a specific grade level. There is an upper elementary version and a primary version. I used the primary version for my kiddos because I wanted it to be fun and easy with limited writing. I wanted the major focus to be on the books.

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What I did was I printed out the “menu” pages found in the kit and made each student in my class their own menu to use. Inside each menu I included 5 “review” pages that they used when they found a book.

I set up 5 different stations of genres in my room and placed many of those types of books at each table. The genres I pulled out to use for my kids were historical fiction books, realistic fiction books, mystery books, fantasy books, and biographies/autobiographies. At each table, they had to pick one book they thought looked interesting and filled out the form in their menu. They read a page or 2 from each book and decided if the pages were easy or hard to read. They then described the cover and any other pictures that might have been in the book. They finally rated their book out of 5 stars. Once they finished with their one book that was recorded in their menus, they had a few extra minutes to look through other books and discuss the ones they found with the others in their group.

I gave each round/station about 8 minutes at each table/genre. Overall, it took us a little over 40 minutes total to get through all tables. Most of my kiddos had a really good time and really took their time looking into different types of books and genres they aren’t used to. When my students entered 3rd grade, hardly any of my students wanted to read chapter books. As the year went on, they started to get into the Dogman series, The Bad Guys series, and of course, the Junie B. Jones. books. As great as it was that they were starting to read chapter books, they didn’t really extend their reading any farther. Most of them stuck with these books throughout the year. My goal with the book tasting was to show them that there are plenty of other amazing books out there. I wanted them to walk away with a list of new books to read over the summer or next year when they walk into 4th grade.

Of course, I had that handful who couldn’t handle it. I decided to put my struggling kiddos in the same group for this activity so they wouldn’t disrupt anyone else and take away from their learning. It was great for the other 4 groups at the other 4 stations but that one group was very difficult. I had my sister come volunteer in my classroom just to keep those kiddos on task. (That still didn’t work too well.)

Overall, my kids had fun and found a ton of new books they are eager to read. It was a lot of prep work getting everything printed and put together but it was worth it. I recommend trying this out (but maybe not at the end of the year because the energy level is WAY higher than normal!)

Side Note: If you want to add some more flare, have some instrumental French music playing in the background. It sets the mood pretty well and who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in a French cafe?

 

We only have 8 school days to go!!!!! We are so close people!!!!

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For more day to day activities and lessons, go follow my class instagram account @lifeoftherookieteacher!! With the end of the year, I have many fun projects coming up. I will also be sharing some fun summer activities and you don’t want to miss that!

BINGO, Kickball, and Officially Published

Happy Friday friends!!! More like FINALLY FRIDAY!! Holy cow this last month of school is a marathon and we’re ALL feeling it.

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Today we had an early release for students so we could have a professional development afternoon. Because of that, we all tried to make today a fun day. We started the day with school wide BINGO. We’ve had a school wide goal since the beginning of the school year to read 25,000 books by the end of the year. We reached that back in February so we bumped the goal to 50,000. We have benchmark prizes throughout and BINGO was the prize for reaching 44,000. [[Super fun right!? Well it was at first….

Every Friday we have some “Friday free choice” time right away in the morning for about 20ish minutes to start the day. Because BINGO started right at the start of the day, we didn’t get time to do our free choice time. My kids were upset about this and didn’t understand why they couldn’t have both. Really?

When we started to play BINGO my class was the first 3rd grade class to get a BINGO so we won a class prize from the principals. Sometime in the next few weeks they’ll be taking my class outside to play some kickball. When my students found out this was the prize, half of my class threw a fit because they don’t like kickball. Who doesn’t want to get out of class on a nice spring day to play kickball!? Honestly it blew my mind. I was livid with how they were reacting. Oh my goodness, seriously.

After BINGO we finished a math test and then we watched Because of Winn-Dixie because we finished the book. A few of my highly emotional students (who work with our school social workers multiple times a day) were crying because they didn’t feel like watching a movie today. Ummmmmmmm what!? What 8 year old doesn’t want to watch a movie in school!? Oh my goodness I almost lost it.

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Majority of my class was super awesome during BINGO and during the movie but it’s those handful of 3-4 that ruin my mood because there has to be a problem with everything. I can’t win with them.

A super positive side about today though was that we finally got our published books in the mail. A few weeks ago my class created our own book. A friend of mine told me about this awesome company called Student Treasures. What the company does is it sends a teacher a book making kit for their class. In the kit there is a full list of instructions and order forms to send home. You come up with an idea on what you want to write about and go from there. One teacher I know made a class cookbook and another made their own “I survived” story. The site also has a ton of ideas and examples of different class books that have been made. Once the whole process is completed on the teachers end, the whole kit gets sent back and the company does all of the publishing! A few weeks later the books arrive and they are amazing!

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My class recently read the Wayside School series by Louis Sacher. We decided to base our book off of that series by making our own wacky and crazy stories. Each student wrote a chapter about themselves. They got to come up with a silly story about what they might do in our class and illustrate a picture to go with it. Today the books came!

The title of our book was Upside Down Stories From Becker Intermediate School. They turned out so cute and the kiddos were so excited. The book comes with a dedication page and a “meet the authors” page. My kids were adorable on their dedication. We talked together as a class and came up with two different dedications. The first was they wanted to dedicate our book to another 3rd grade teacher, the one who originally gave me the idea because she did it with her class. The second dedication was “to all of the sick.” They wanted to bring some cheer to anyone who isn’t feeling that great. They want anyone out there to have a good laugh because that makes everyone feel better. I was so proud when they decided on their two dedications. I had nothing to do with what they wanted.

 

At the beginning of our book I wrote a little introduction with the chapters for each student but the rest is all them! I am including examples from the different chapters in our book because I find them super cute and innocent.

 

It was a super fun process to build our class relationship. We decided on commonalities for our fake class like a common class discipline system and the name of the school principal. A lot of them decided to include other classmates in their stories (I told them as long as it was appropriate and they got permission from the other student, they could include whatever they wanted.) Overall, it was such a fun process. I HIGHLY recommend looking into Student Treasures next school year. It’s probably a little too late at this point of the year because it takes some time for the books to get back to you, but I think it is something every class should participate in.

Oh man, the end of the year cannot come soon enough. I love my class but MY GOODNESS they are losing their minds! Here’s to all of you teachers out there who understand the May feels.

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For more day to day activities and projects, go follow my class instagram page @lifeoftherookieteacher!

Mother’s Day Presents

I am so proud of myself for writing two days in a row after not writing for a handful of weeks. I had to share the fun Mother’s Day presents we did today. I got these ideas from Pinterest (obviously) and my fellow coworkers.

The first thing we made was a book mark for everyone’s mom. I found this amazingly cute idea off of someone’s blog off of Pinterest. I took pictures of my students last week pretending to hold on to a balloon or kite. I then got them printed out, cut them out, and laminated (what teacher doesn’t love to laminate??) them so my students could add the finishing touch with some ribbons. It was SO SIMPLE and they turned out so adorable. With the idea I found these adorable “Mom, can I hang with you while you read?” cards. I found them on the same blog that I got the idea from. (I’m kicking myself for not remembering whose blog I found this idea on.) Seriously, I find these SUPER ADORABLE!!!

The second thing we made were our Mother’s Day cards. I got this idea from the coworkers on my team. They based it off of a poem about an author liking giraffes and all of the reason why that author likes giraffes. They showed me how they turned that poem into all of the reasons the students love their moms.

We started with a template for our version of the poem where they listed all of the reasons they loved their moms. (We put MANY examples on the board ahead of time, so they all had ideas and wouldn’t have to ask me 100 times how to spell certain words.)

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They then transferred their poem to an “accordion” like card where their moms would have to open up to see the reasons why their children love them. I cut out flowers and butterflies for them to put on the cover of their cards but the rest was all up to them. They all turned out adorable. The theme of their poems were “Mom, I love you. Ask me why…” and I LOVE the things they came up with.

These were both incredibly easy and adorable. Last year my old team members told me about a gift that cost me too much money and spent too much time at school. This project, took me the total of 1 morning at school. (It was the perfect Friday morning activity!) I highly recommend doing something this simple and this easy.

I hope you all have an amazing weekend and an amazing Mother’s Day! This is my favorite week/weekend of the year. (Partly because it’s Mother’s Day but also because my birthday happens to fall on this wonderful weekend.)

 

For more day to day activities follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!!

Lorax Day

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Oh my goodness you guys, yesterday was such a fun day and one of my favorites so far this year!!! We got to read one of my favorite books, do one of my favorite projects, and watch one of my favorite movies. The best part was we could spend the day celebrating and talking about Earth Day, which my class was super mature about.

We started the day by reading The Lorax. Oh my goodness, I love that story so much! I told my class that while I read, their job was to find different comparisons Dr. Seuss was trying to make with the characters and situations in the story to the real world. Once I was done reading, we had a 25 minute conversation all about what happens in the story and how they are seeing it portrayed today on Earth. They talked about different ways to help our planet, which was incredible because these are 3rd graders and they had such a deep conversation going on with so many great ideas. It was refreshing to hear them talk about and question why people still don’t take care of our planet. They couldn’t see how others don’t want to protect mother Earth and how they aren’t noticing the consequences of our actions so far.

This lead into our project. I found a mix of this idea on Pinterest and on Teachers Pay Teachers. There was a free writing prompt on a truffula tuft on TPT that said, “If I had the last truffula tree I would….” I found this FREE item on Valerie Garrison‘s shop.

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The first step was they had to answer the prompt. I made copies of these on multiple colored pieces of paper so they would be multicolored like actual truffula trees.

Once they had finished their writing, they used it to make the project. I found the project idea on Pinterest (and I think on TPT but that item was like $6.99 so I made my own free version.)

 

 

 

They made their own Lorax to hold the tuft. They each got an orange piece of construction paper to outline their own Lorax head and Lorax hands so each one looked the same but different at the same time. I made copies of the classic Lorax mustache that they colored to finish off the look.

 

 

We worked on the project while enjoying the 2012 version of The Lorax. Seriously, I love that movie (and having Taylor Swift in it is definitely and added plus!) It was such a relaxing and fun day. We had some extra time at the end of the day so, to continue the theme, we went on YouTube to the Art for Kids Hub channel (which is AMAZING and my kids love and is a PERFECT time filler on a Friday afternoon) and did a step by step drawing on The Lorax.

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It was such a fun day. My favorite part was how serious my kiddos were when we talked about Earth Day and why we celebrate it. They have so many ideas and it makes me have faith that our future will be better and our Earth has a chance to be saved.

For more day to day live action in our classroom, go follow me on instagram @lifeoftherookieteacher!

(PS…Sorry about the dark pictures, I used movie time wisely so the light was pretty minimal!)

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

It’s crazy to believe that April is already half way over…??? Ummmmm, how did that happen? With testing and crazy weather patterns, I once again feel like the amount of actual teaching I’ve done is down to a minimum. (In case you didn’t hear, the midwest got yet another storm this past week, so Thursday school was cancelled again because of “blizzard like conditions.”) I think my students are starting to hit that spring slide because it’s getting harder and harder to motivate them everyday.

Because of that, I wanted to look into ways to keep them motivated and positive through the end of the year. I also am having many students who are becoming very emotional lately and I wanted to continue to remind them how to be positive and believe in themselves even if something doesn’t go as planned. I did a quick amazon search for growth mindset books and found The Growth Mindset Playbook; A Teacher’s Guide to Promoting Student Success, by Annie Brock and Heather Hundley.

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I’m only a few chapters in right now but I wanted to reflect on some of the concepts I’ve come across already that I’ve found to be quite interesting.

The book begins by explaining the difference between growth and fixed mindset. Simply put, growth mindset individuals always see a way and are open to failure because they can learn from it, whereas fixed mindset individuals believe if they fail they fail and are completely defeated. I’ve tried all year to create growth mindset students but some are still struggling with effort because they don’t believe in themselves.

To help teach what growth mindset thinkers believe, the authors included a mini lesson to do as a whole class. The teacher writes out a series of scenarios on notecards. The scenarios range between how a fixed mindset person would react to a situation and how a growth mindset person would react to a situation. They work as a team to sort each notecard into a fixed or growth mindset category. The scenarios in this book are middle/high school age situations so before I try this out, I have to think of situations an 8 year old could relate to. I want to try this once our testing if over to hopefully spark some interest and motivation for the last month of school.

The second main idea I found interesting so far in this book is the concept that even if a teacher teaches growth mindset, their students might not be successful in grasping the concept. The authors found that a teacher can talk about having a growth mindset until they’re blue in the face but it won’t make a difference unless they model having a growth mindset themselves for their students. I think this was a pretty powerful idea. It shows how much of an impact a teacher has on their students. You can teach your students to believe in anything but if you don’t believe in it yourself, they’re never going to catch on.

I think I model this pretty well for my kiddos. Everyday we talk about the importance of effort and how we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. I stress that I don’t care if someone got 100% on a test or 50% on a test as long as they put in effort and strive to learn from their errors the next time around. I talk a lot about my mistakes and how I learn from them to do and be better at my job. I’m also a HUGE Harry Potter fan and have instilled that love with my class. I’ve shared with them the story of J.K. Rowling and how she got her start. I’ve told them about how she was rejected by 12 different companies before someone told her they would publish her story. This has always been a huge motivator for me and I love to share it with my students because the story is so inspirational.

I have not gotten very far into the book but I plan to continue reading to learn more about having a growth mindset and how to use that information to help my students and to help our class have a great end of the year. As I keep reading, I hope to continue to share little tips and tricks that I learn to help any of you who are also having a hard time getting your students to believe in themselves.

Testing Testing Testing

It’s that happy season again. State standardized testing has begun and I am trying to be the best cheerleader I can.

When we come back on Monday, my students will start the MCA (Minnesota’s standardized test) reading test and I have tried as hard as I can to prep them for what’s in store. We spent the whole week this week prepping for what the test is going to look and be like. We went online and watched tutorials on how to use the test and did practice tests all together as a class. By the end of today my kids were shot, and we haven’t even started the official test yet!

The past few weeks we have practiced with different new passages and taking comprehension test questions on them. We’ve gone over test taking strategies and have watched motivational videos but I don’t think I’ve done enough.

My students are 3rd graders, so in Minnesota, this is the first official year they take the MCA standardized test. I’ve done my best to prep them the best I can and explain how serious this test is but after today, I’m not sure they really understand. We’ve talked about how it’s important to do our best and to stay focused, but these are 3rd graders. Needless to say, I’m very nervous.

I know being a teacher, we are supposed to be positive and motivational but there is only so much I can do. I wish I could tell my students how I really feel about the test but we all know that isn’t possible. We are all set to “teach towards the test” in any state we’re in and we are seen as bad teachers if we don’t. I’m ready for the next few weeks to be over.

That being said, we have to give out the tests and they have to take it, it’s part of the job. I try to make testing days as low key and as exciting as possible. For our tests, we are given a total of 4 school days to work on them (2 for reading and 2 for math.) We get about half of every day to test and the other half to have classroom time. I try to utilize my classroom time to get them in the mood for the test and to relax and destress after the test.

When they come in every morning, I have a treat on their desk with a motivational note. I downloaded these FREE notes on TPT last year from Math Mojo‘s shop and I LOVE them.

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The students come in each morning of testing excited to go! I usually put on a few GoNoodles before we head to our designated testing room so they can move and get their blood flowing. After the test, the rest of the day is for relaxation! Depending on the weather, (again, love Minnesota…) we will either go outside or play games in the classroom. The test takes out SO MUCH that I want them to decompress as much as they can. Once the 4 test days are over, I spend the rest of the next week doing fun art projects and team building activities.

I wish all of you luck as we head into testing season. Hang in there and be the best teacher/cheerleader/counselor you can be for you students! All I can think about is when I had to take these wonderful tests in 3rd grade. I want my students to have better memories than I have, that’s for sure!

My fellow teachers, we got this!