With only one lovely week off between the end of the regular term and the beginning of the six week special education summer session many students and teachers were not jumping for joy to return to school this week.
I have to say I was among them. I definitely would have liked to have a few more beach days. Besides for one rainy day, I spent the majority of my week off swimming, and reading. It was a very chill week.
That being said, it was good to see my students this week and hear about the exciting things they did with their families during their time off. Children have a different time continuum. They pack everything they remember doing during a week into a description of what happened on one day. It never fails to make me smile.
To overcome my students’ summer school blahs I made sure to put on my silliest Miss Jan show, doing my best to incite smiles and giggles, while my students practiced the skills they needed to. Don’t tell my administration but those smiles and giggles are what keeps me coming back each year, each summer, not the pay.
Learning is the end goal any teacher wants their students to achieve. How a teacher gets a student there is in their lesson plans, their creativity and engaging ideas.
In The Noisy Classroom, written by Angela Shante’, illustrated by Alison Hawkins and published by West Margin Press, the main character is a little girl who is concerned about her upcoming year in third grade and the possibility that her classroom might be the noisy classroom. The noisy classroom doesn’t have the familiar structure or rules she had been used to. She’s so concerned she thinks she ought to pack up and move to Antarctica.
When it happens that she does get enrolled in Ms. Johnson’s noisy classroom she finds she’s having fun, but she’s not so sure she’s learning. The week flies by and she’s learned about: skip-counting by threes, writing a story from an ant’s point of view, playing math ball, writing calculations on her desk with dry erase markers, appreciating a poem written by Nikki Giovanni and freeze dancing her way to lunch.
Waiting to get a drink from the water fountain, she is standing behind two quiet rows of 2nd graders and realizes learning in Ms. Johnson’s noisy classroom is way better than any other class and way, way better than Antarctica.
I appreciated this book from both a student’s point of view and a teacher’s point of view. Going into a new class and meeting a teacher who teaches and manages the classroom differently than a student is used to is understandably anxiety inducing. But seeing the creativity and joy of learning presented in the persona of Ms. Johnson and her noisy classroom was validating for me as a teacher.
I’m a teacher for visually impaired and blind pre-school students. I adapt my lessons and materials dependent on an individual child’s usable vision, and try my hardest to tap into what’s fun for each child.
If I can hone in on what’s important to my student and have the lesson include whatever that might be, be it: car emblems, construction trucks, tools, happy faces, characters from TV or from movies, etc., I know I’m heading toward engaging my student’s interest in learning. When it all comes together and I see their faces light up with smiles and laughter, it’s the best!
Sometimes, it’s hard to get there. Sometimes, the thing that really engages a small child can make it difficult for them to transition onto the next task. When that happens the if . . . then scenario has to be put into action, if you do this . . . then you’ll get to do that. It’s not optimal because if the child digs his or her heels in, it takes a good amount of creative brainstorming to figure out how best to change the dynamic. And if you add on that the student is learning remotely, well you have to enlist the parents, more so than ever, to team up with you to make their child’s learning successful.
Whether you’re a parent, a student or a teacher or all three, I hope your week is full of noisy, fun creativity because that equals a whole bunch of learning!
It’s a day to celebrate. Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upward! has its book birthday today! This is the second book I’ve written about Cleopatra W. Darby and the second book about Cleo that Jennifer Ball has illustrated.
This has been a much anticipated sequel as it was finished prior to the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, and due to shut downs etc. it ‘s had to wait, wait, wait. But as of today, the waiting is over.
In this Cleo’s second book, it’s a start of the new school term at Humble Elementary. Cleo’s main worries are how, to get,Winston, her pet tortoise to go to school with her, and how she and Ms. Mason will get along. Ms. Mason, never a fan of Cleo’s ideas or inventions, has been assigned as Cleo’s teacher.
The term begins with excitement over the class mascot contest and the happenings on NASA TV, which the whole school is following. And just when Cleo thinks Winston might sweep the mascot contest, space junk is spotted heading straight for Humble Elementary.
Cleo wants to save the day, but she’s going to need a little help from Sara and Albert, her two best friends.
Will Cleo’s ideas be big enough to stop space junk? Winston knows but he’s not telling, not unless you speak tortoise.
This year has been a challenging time for children, so much of what they know has been upended and the level of stress they find themselves dealing with has increased. Through Cleo’s Big Ideas: Flattening the Curve!, its my hope children can be encouraged to come up with their own ideas, no matter the size, to help make a positive change in the world around. them.
Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.
This summer I was lucky enough to win a twitter giveaway via GoodReadswithRonna for a picture book manuscript critique from Cathy Ballou Mealey. The critique was so very helpful and through Cathy’s suggestions, and questions I was able to polish my WIP. And that wasn’t all I was lucky to receive, I also found a great book to share with my students.
When A Tree Grows, written by Cathy Ballou Mealey and illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska debuted this past Spring to glowing reviews.
I had mentioned to Cathy that I was going to share the book with my students when school started up again. And was surprised and pleased when she very generously sent me bookmarks to give to my students and a note to share with them.
So on the last day before school is to start, I’m looking forward to meeting my new students and sharing When a Tree Grows with them. As a teacher for the visually impaired/blind I bring along a story box of items that add tactual details to the stories I share with my students.
I already have the bear, but now I’m off to scavenger hunt for the moose, acorns, the truck, the squirrel and the bark of a tree. And we’ll definitely have to take a trip outside to touch a standing tree. Then, as in the book, two things could happen, and its my guess they’ll include learning and fun. Thanks Cathy!