The school year so far…in memes

My blogging has been horrible as of late. However, I decided to give you an update of the school year in memes. Please feel free to add your meme as well.

Another Wonderful Christmas Break

If you read last year’s post, you know that we went on a cruise. This year we did it again and I can’t say enough great things.

This Christmas’ cruise was amazing. Let’s look at the specifics first.

7 Day Cruise on Harmony of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)

Drove to Florida, again

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This ship was huge. The largest current cruise ship in the world

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This is an absolutely beautiful model of the ship. It’s pretty cool.

Now let’s talk about the experience and it was an experience indeed.

The Good

  • This ship is a sight to see. It’s fantastic from front to back, left to right.
  • The amenities were spot on. There were so many fun things to do on the ship that I honestly could have stayed on board and been perfectly fine.
  • Some of the things on ship were water slides, dry slides, rock climbing walls, carousels, zip line, mini golf, theaters, ice skating and much more.
  • The pools were excellent.
  • The shows were well done and outstanding. I’m not a huge show guy, but these were impressive.
  • The food was phenomenal. There were some great specialty restaurants as well as the normal main dining.
  • There was a full scale Starbucks on board! Talk about a happy cruiser!
  • Though I did harp that there were a lot of kids on the ship, there was equally a lot for them to do.
  • Our stateroom was much larger than last year. I continue to stress that everyone get a stateroom with seaside balcony. This ship even had balconies that faced inward and some that looked out over the back of the ship.
  • The staff was very polite and again, made me feel welcome and appreciated all week.
  • The ports of call were outstanding. I’d rank them St. Maarten, San Juan and then Labadee.
  • Having two days at sea to start was really cool. I like having the multiple days at sea towards the middle of the cruise, however this was a pleasant change.
    • This is not an exhaustive list of good things by any means. But I don’t want to keep you from reading last year’s experience.

The So/So

  • I hate to say it, but I think this ship was too large for my taste. At no time did I ever not feel like there were 6,000+ people on the ship.
  • The beverage package changed and it left me lacking my daily free Starbucks hit. I could use my Starbucks card, but I couldn’t use my free rewards.
  • Though the ship was huge the lay out of the Grand Promenade felt cramped. (Especially on the sales day, where there was tons of stuff for sale and tons of people walking around.) But don’t get me wrong, the sun there is just as amazing and some of my best pics were of these mountains resting over the beach in the distance.
  • One port of call was only a few hours. I suppose that it took longer to park the ship than we were actually out enjoying Old San Juan.
  • The gym was nice, but due to its placement on the ship it smelled like cigarettes.
  • I am not sure who planned it like this, but on the Harmony the steam room and sauna is a pay to use service. I’ve never heard of that.

Changes

  • This isn’t a Royal Caribbean problem at all. However, this ship’s size and appeal brought about something every school teacher dreads. There were a lot of kids on the ship. Most of them were very respectful and polite. However, there were quite a few that made my teacher ire rise.
  • I am glad I tried other restaurants. I am very thankful for the Windjammer, but it’s not my thing anymore.
  • I write this with great sadness, but I kept getting lost on the ship. It’s not anyone’s fault, but mine. I just had a bear of time keeping my bearings. I ended up taking the stairs A LOT.
  • I’m over Labadee. Though it’s a specimen of beauty, I’m over the beach and the hustle of the island. The beach is very rocky and really not that fun. The beach is beautiful, but the water and shore was tough to walk on.
  • Next time I’d certainly go on a tour or an excursion on Labadee.
  • Be careful with the Wi-Fi. Being able to access the net is a great thing and it wasn’t that expensive at all. However, it’s very easy to just get sucked into staring at your phone, iPad or whatever. I had to catch my own self and not get caught just staring at social media.

I am very glad I was able to take my family on this trip. There’s really nothing that I would say I’d honestly change. I go back to school in two days. I’m rested and ready to make this semester our best semester so far.

I’m sure you know that Team Whitaker cruise #3 has already been booked.  

Why I lowered all my tables in my class

I am enjoying this school year. This class is the best that I’ve ever had in my years of teaching. I’ve never had so many students in one class that want to learn. Even the few that are off task aren’t horribly off task. This has been a great school year.  To say that I’m thankful or blessed is really an understatement.

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My class has finally won the Accelerated Reader Trophy

So in typical Jason fashion I got an idea. I decided to drop all my tables down so my students could sit on the floor rather than chairs. My thought was that it would squash the wiggling and extra moving in class. I am not totally creative. I saw something like it here and thought I’d give it a try. My chiropractor friend agreed that it would be a good idea to try.  I have been pleasantly surprised at what I’ve seen so far.

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  • I let the students pick to either sit on a colored cushion or a carpet square.
  • I also let them sit at which ever table they want to. (I never tell them that they have to sit in a certain spot, but I do tell them where they can’t sit.)
  • They can sit on their bottoms, sit on their knees or some form of the two. They can’t lay on the floor and they can’t crawl on the floor.
  • Taking care of all materials still applies.
  • Every month we will revisit, discuss and vote to keep the tables like they are or go back to the old configuration.

So far I honestly have no complaints. The students seem to like it. Only one had a contrary view. We came up with some ways for her to get comfortable and she’s a fan.

What I’ve seen so far.

  • My students move A LOT less. They wiggle and fidget, but not really as much up and down out of their chairs movement.
  • No leaning back in chairs. #Given
  • Students work together more. They have space. For some reason I think sitting in chairs took up to much space in their minds. Now they instantly give each other “elbow room” without being told.
  • They’re not nearly as talkative. (I’ve never felt the need to make everyone be quiet all the time. Why? They know when key and certain times they have to be quiet, but as long as the voice level is such “that Mr. Whitaker can hear his music” they’re good to go.

I am also doing a little more with digital classroom stuff. Just to save a little paper and keep my organization neater. I’ve started doing simple “exit tickets” and short quizzes using on line formats. The students submit what they do and we’re all happy. By no means am I a pro at it, but I am getting better. We use a ton of tech on the teachers end, but now I want to get the kiddos to do some as well.

Almost ready for the reveal

I’ve been talking about changing the homework in my class for a while. I am almost ready to reveal the (hopefully) finished product. My students have been pretty good at reading and building their stamina. I think this is going to be a real boost to their understanding of the reading process, comprehension and overall love for reading. I will be dropping the finished product this week.

Parents can I get your insight

I am considering changing my homework for my class. I want to see my kids reading more, discussing their reading and overall being empowered through text. Right now the only time I can squeeze in more reading is homework.

My plan is to roll out 3rd grade book clubs in lieu of homework. This is what I see.

Each student/reading group will  have a book or chapter to read every night. The next day during their reading time they’ll reply to questions through our class website. We’ll also discuss the book in our specific reading time. Towards the end of the session they can do a project, open discussion or even an Accelerated Reader quiz on the book.

Dear Parents, I want to know what you think about homework and this idea. If you student just came home with a book every night with dedicated pages to read how would you feel? I will not be offended in anyway so please be as honest as possible.6620d-6a0120a8d8c83d970b01676357327a970b-pi.

 

So far this year 

Though this is the best group of kids I’ve had in a long time, they’re still little humans and they’re flawed.  Why can’t you hang a coat, bookbag, sweater on the hook? It’s really not that hard! Augh.  


Jeans passes are back! I will be trendy and wear a #bowtie, but probably won’t tuck my shirt.  

My kiddos are reading! They all could use more work and a deeper appreciation for reading just for reading sake. However, I am not going to front. They’ve taken to all my accelerated reader challenges.  Currently we’re well over our goal for the semester and we’re trying to hit our year goal by December! 

You know that I am loving my coaching sessions @ CFSC this year. When people help you become better at your trade then compliment that they see you growing that’s a good feeling.  Oh and I like Boba Tea! 

So for some reason my class asked if my birthday was October 13th (actually that’s my mom’s birthday) . I, mistakenly thought I had been pretty not subtle about the fact that mine is in April.  None the less two students brought me gifts on my faux birthday! Besides the huge smile that brought me, we had to have a Whitaker’s fake Birthday Party Friday.  Of course the gift givers got the bigger cupcakes and a well deserved laugh. 

Thank God for this class

 

I can’t say it any other way, but I really am thankful for this class. This year has been interesting. However, when the door closes on room B27 I have the best group of 3rd grade learners a teacher could ask. It’s going to be a year to say the least, but I really am glad I have this group of kiddos.

 

My thoughts on this year so far

So I am in 3rd grade. The oldest group of students I’ve ever taught. I won’t lie, I’d still rather the little kids, but this is a good trade off.

Third graders know what they’re doing. Yes, they need to be taught a lot, but most of the house keeping is centered around reminding them of rules and procedures not helping them understand what “working cooperatively” means. I need to release the reigns more for this group. After we solidify them rules, though!

This group isn’t nearly as needy as I anticipated. I have a ton of support from the ESOL team. I have 8 ESOL students in a class of 20. But you know what? Everyone does put forth some effort and you can see/hear that they want to make a go at this year.

This might sound odd, but I think I’m over exposed to tech. We have so many websites that the District has provided, plus free sites that offer support, plus sites that you go to as a teacher. I feel my open tabs bar is over run. (I am sure there’s a percent of bookmarks that we actually use and I don’t use nearly all of them). In this area I think I feel swamped.

My team is great. They know what they’re doing and allow a lose cannon like myself to be myself. There are seven 3rd grade classes, which is a lot, but we all have a full compliment of students. We all get along and support one another. Help is just a quick email or yell down the hall away.

I am much different than I was even last year. I tend to be MUCH more forgiving. I am still prone to be rant-tastic, but it’s nothing like before. Not nearly as sarcastic and over all I think this group is going to pull off something great. I am quite optimistic about this year.

There’s a lot that needs to be done. Lots that hasn’t really be made clear, but overall I have high expectations of this being a fantastic school year.

A super school year must start off busy. I have been running and going so much this year. But I will say this. My class is by in far the absolute best I’ve ever written had. They have so much potential, that I feel the real pressure to lead them to deep learning. Also I have been paired with the best 3rd grade team in the world.  We have so many ideas and concepts.  We’re really going to rock this school year for sure.  

I will be back with a real summary of this year so far.