Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's Not Goodbye!

It's been a few months since I've posted last.  And I think it's about time I tell you why.  I have really been struggling with a few things  First, as you know my husband had lost his job last year...right before baby #2 was to be born.  We made it through (and he has another job now) but the debt we accrued during his unemployment was way more than we could afford with his new pay.  So we decided to sell our house and use whatever we gained to pay off the debt and start anew.  The other thing I have been going through is just purely emotional.  I don't know if it's post pardum or just genuine depression but I have been pretty down this summer.

So in order to "get my life back" I decided to focus on what is most important in kids and my health.  I don't have any family nearby that can help me with my children so it's me who takes them to soccer practice, to the doctor appointments, to playdates, etc.  It's me who makes sure homework is done, exercise is had and food is in their belly.  To do this and be a full-time working woman is seriously hard!  How the other bloggers out there do this effortlessly is purely amazing to me.  I also have been feeling in the last few months that it is MY example that is the most important.  I need to make sure I am teaching them how to grow up into a good man, one that any woman would want for a husband!  And I need to focus on teaching them the principles of our religion, which is important to me.

To rule out depression I am going to work on losing weight and being a better example for my kids. When my first child became mobile I had the same feelings so I wondered if this is possibly a late onset of post pardum.  Those of you who are mothers, you understand this.  When your child becomes mobile...any sense of your freedom is gone for the next couple of years while you chase your child ensuring he's safe!  I do give #2 a bit more freedom than I did with #1 but still don't want any harm to come to him.  So it's a constant vigilance and a constant inability to complete any one task that makes me feel "lost" (for lack of a better word).

So for these 2 reasons...becoming healthier (in mind and body) and focusing on raising my boys... I have decided to take a little break from the blog.  I won't be gone forever because I love sharing,  creating and this whole online community! It keeps me excited about teaching and that is something I LOVE!   Good luck to all of you in teaching and to those of you working on your national boards!  I hope we all get good news in November!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

NBC Sunday #7: And Finally, The…Exam.

Aaahhh!  It's the dreaded exam!  I was so anxious about this part of the process and it turned out to be...alright.  I didn't pass social studies because the question focused on 3rd grade. I've never taught that so I was literally making crap up…and hoping it sounded good!  I also didn't pass play and was flabbergasted!  BUT learned why after talking to an NBCT teacher about it.

So here's how I prepared. I paid for and joined the online support group  It was the BEST decision I made to prepare for the exam.  They had weekly chat sessions of people preparing each other for the exam.  I learned how to word my answers quickly and succinctly.

And it worked. 

I only floundered on the standards I had never studied (3rd grade) and on play…something we here in CA don't get to do much of…so I was out of practice (which honestly, was disappointing to me!)

What I intend to do to help YOU prepare for this is to pose questions like what you might see on the exam.  Each week I'll focus on 1 of the 6 areas and present a few scenarios.  You can comment with your response or just practice with it at home on your own.  In the online support group people posted their responses and got ideas from each other.  It was extremely helpful!

Lastly, here's a tip.  Once you leave the exam building, write down what you remember about each entry.  That way when you get your scores you can have a better idea of why you scored the way you did.  You can't share those questions with anyone but at least, for you, you'll have a greater understanding of what happened.  When I received my scores and saw the play score…I scoffed.  Then I went back and read what my question was and remembered my response then promptly planted my face in my palm. *ugh* {note to self-actually study play!} 

Have fun studying this week and I'll see you next week with sample questions for the exam!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

NBC #6: Entry 1: Examining Children's Literacy Development

So this is the entry I chose to retake.  I had prepared a post about it previously and was putting the finishing touches on it WHEN I got my score.  YEAH.  That post got nixed!  The 2 entries that I didn't do well on actually weren't that bad.  Being down only 3 points is easy to make up (or so I'm told!).

I went to a CTA (California Teachers Association) support meeting in early December to meet with a NBCT teacher who could look over my writing and help me figure out where it went wrong.  What she found made COMPLETE sense.  And confirmed my beliefs that my procrastination on entry 1 is what did me in. (How many times had I been told, last year, not to procrastinate by the facilitator?)   The NBCT teacher said many times in my writing she knew what I was getting at but that I didn't state it explicitly and therefore, the assessor probably felt the same way.  THAT, my friends, is the result of me working under pressure because I procrastinated and had an extra life stressor (my husband's job loss) join the writing camp out.

At this meeting I also proved to be an example (for good or bad?) to those attempting to certify for the first time.  I proofed some of their work…entry 4's of course, because I rocked that.  (I didn't feel comfortable proofing the other entries, nor did they ask!).

This time around I'll be much more prepared and much more focused.  It'll be a lot easier to write academically and explicitly.  Bonus: it's only 1 entry!  However, I will not turn it in without getting advice so if you are an NBCT and want to read for me, I'd LOVE it!

Ok, so on to the prep work for this entry:

In this entry I will be taking a sample of 3 pieces from over an 8 week period with 2 students.

LAST YEAR, I kept the work from EVERY student for the whole year and had an incredible amount of writing to go through.  I selected an 8 week period from September-October…too far away to remember exactly what I did to help each kid move forward in writing…so I tried to "recall" and use my knowledge of the writing process.

THIS YEAR I am going to be much more focused.  My plan is to select 2 students from each of my 3 levels - advanced, benchmark and below benchmark.  So I will follow 6 students total.  My lowest writing group has only 2 kids in it so these 2 should {hopefully} benefit from the extra attention.

My advanced group is working on using digraphs and blends.  So my goal is to teach them how to utilize that in their writing along with adding more sentences.

My benchmark group is beginning word families and my below benchmark students are still learning their alphabet {bless!}.

For the benchmark group obviously they need to start work on word family lists and learn how to access that.  In fact, maybe that's a tool I can add to my writer's workshop tools product on TpT!   These kids need a bit more confidence in writing sentences.  I noticed that the higher benchmark kids get it and more often than not write sentences that one can follow.  But the lower end of the benchmark group are still very inconsistent.  I am thinking to focus on kids in the lower benchmark group to help them be more consistent by doing small group work as taught in Writers Workshop.

For my below benchmark children the focus will be on phonics…learning the letter names and their sounds.  I'm contemplating using some Montessori methods as it is multi-sensory. When these kids write it is just a jumble of letters.  I'm thinking of pulling them during writing time to do extra phonics practice while writing a sentence together.  What would you do?

I am going to get started this upcoming week.  I still have one more week off of school so I might as well get a head start and be TOTALLY ready.  My 8 week period begins January 13 and ends March 7.  We will be focusing on opinion writing during that time.

If you have any suggestions or ideas for me to work on, after reading this, I'm all ears! I'm happy to read your work as well.  I've always loved being a help to other people trying to move forward in their careers & lives.

In the beginning of my career I would spend many evenings with a co-worker helping her through her masters degree by proofing her work.  Not only did we get to spend time together but it helped her move forward (and up the pay scale). Working together and supporting one another is the best way to be successful!