Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Because I'm Happy....


This sounds terrible to admit, but I can't believe I've gone almost a whole week writing my blog and not complaining about anything.  That's bad, huh?  That I'm excited that I've been able to stay happy for less than a week.  Don't worry, the momentum isn't letting up.  I just had to point out that I'm aware I haven't complained, whined, or vented about anything for about five days and that it's a big deal.

It shouldn't be.  But it is.

What's even more surprising and pretty awesome is the fact that I haven't allowed any negativity in this week, either.  What I mean by that is I haven't allowed myself to be pulled in to complaints or frustrations of others, and then let it fester at me until I realize it's something I'm frustrated about too.  I've quickly learned that as long as I let negativity in my ears, it starts to pull me down and I just can't let that happen.

This week, I've changed from the woman who's always got a snarky comment to make or an opinion to give to that person who's always annoyingly upbeat and happy.  And, you know what I've discovered?  I'm OK with being one of those annoyingly happy people.  In fact, I plan on staying one of those annoyingly happy people in the hopes that people will take notice of my mood change and wonder what on earth I've done to make myself so upbeat and carefree.

I will tell you who has picked up on my drastic mood change, and that would be my kiddos.  For the past two days, it's almost like I've got a completely different set of students.  The kids that have come to me for the past two days have been happy, confident, and motivated.  They have tried hard with everything I've given them.  And dare I say it, but they seem to be having fun.  

Monday, I had the highest class average to date on a spelling pretest.  Yesterday, I had the highest class average to date on a reading quiz and a science test.  And, I've had several kids tell me that they've already finished their spelling contracts THREE DAYS EARLY, and then asked if they could do MORE.  Which is normal for some kids, but these were the same kids that I usually have to basically force them and constantly remind them to just finish the activities they are required to do.

Oh yes, it's a happy, happy place in my classroom right now.

And the best part is, even though I told the kids I'm working on changing how we do things, everything I've given them to do this week has been the normal assignments they get...the weekly hum-drum rinse and repeat assignments with a new skill attached.  I am working on changing things around, but haven't quite figured out the kinks just yet.  But, that hasn't seemed to have mattered.  They are taking my new attitude, my new found excitement, and clinging on to it with what I'm giving them.  

My classroom has been a pretty fun place to be, though.  I've shared with them some secrets about being a high school student and college student that they found amusing.  I shared with them how high school and college students have to read from giant text books, how boring some assignments can be, and some of the methods that the students use to cope.  

For example, I had the kids work in study groups on Tuesday.  We discussed how it's quite common for high school and college students to group up with classmates and discuss the assignments they have to complete.  We discussed how they work in groups and break up the workload to make life a little simpler, and how they discuss and share what they've learned.  They share opinions, strategies, and even compare answers in a way that's not cheating but a platform for discussion.  I then had the students work in those study groups for reading, and again in science.  They discussed, they shared opinions, and they helped each other come up with study guides for the quiz and test they had the following day.

Yesterday, I discussed the art of cramming.  Now, I know that some people will read this and wonder why on earth I would do something like that.  How cramming is an awful thing to teach students, and how I should be focusing on healthy study practices.  But, at the end of the day, as a former high school and college student, and a current college student, I know that cramming is a big part of the high school/ college lifestyle.  I don't care what anyone says, it doesn't matter how much someone prepares for a test, there's still cramming that takes place before said test.  

What I did was give the kids 10 minutes before each test to discuss, go over their study guides, and ask their friends for suggestions about something they were having trouble remembering.  I had them write down quick notes that they could use on the test, and flip through the books to take note of the pages that hold some important information (the tests are open book tests).  

Did the cramming help give them the highest scores they've ever scored on reading and science tests to date?  Maybe.  I don't know.  But, I do know that I was often frustrated by low test scores on open book tests.  I didn't understand why the kids made such low grades when all they had to do was go back in to the reading and find the answers.  I like to think that the cramming helped them refresh their brains about where the answers were located, which made the task a lot less overwhelming when it was time to actually go in and find the answers.  You have to remember that I have several kids that are reading on a 2nd grade level, so going back in to a 4th grade science text book or a 4th grade reading book can be extremely overwhelming for a kid that can't read the books very well.  

Today, we are going to celebrate their test scores by having a little fun during reading.  Something that's fun and hopefully pretty motivating.  

I've been trying to think of something to put up on the bulletin board outside my classroom.  It's time to start thinking about fall, and my bulletin board needs a new fall makeover.  Well, being that we're currently reading Charlotte's Web, I thought it would be neat for the kids to make their own spider webs with a word that describes them on it.  I am going to take yarn in to school, and let the kids use the yarn to create a spider web on construction paper and spell out a word that is motivating and up lifting.  I am going to challenge them to think of words like Charlotte used, such as "radiant" and "terrific".  I'm even going to let them look for words in a thesaurus and on the computers.  Then, I can put them up on the bulletin board as a Halloweenish type thing, yet our spider webs won't be scary.. they'll be fun, motivating, and happy.  Because that will represent how our class is feeling right now.  I'm even going to have the kids help me make a butcher paper spider to hang up with the webs.  

Fun times!!

OK, it's time to get my day started.  

Have an awesome Wednesday, everyone!!


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