Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spelling, Schmelling

Probably one of the biggest problems I've found in today's educational curriculum is a lack of answers for teaching spelling. How do you successfully differentiate spelling instruction for all levels of the classroom, while making it fun, and most of all, useful?

I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite teaching resources, Mrs. Gold's Class Website. She's a third grade teacher in New Jersey, and she doesn't have a blessed idea how often I've stalked her site, stolen her ideas, and copied her strategies. One of my very favorites of her resources is her Creative Choices Spelling Packet. She gives tons and tons of ideas for practicing spelling words, and the kids actually don't mind doing most of them! The activities include all multiple intelligences. You will not be sorry you checked it out.

Oh, but that still doesn't help with the word selection process, now does it? This is an area I haven't quite figured out. One of my former colleagues would have the kids come up with their own spelling words from their reading material. They would write new words and definitions in their reading journals and use those as spelling words at the end of the month. It just didn't seem manageable in my classroom, though... how do you manage 25 different spelling lists? Not sure.

One thing I did last year was have the kids submit words from their reading. They'd have to write the word, a definition from a children's dictionary online, and a sentence using the word. Then, I'd compile the list of 10 words for the week, and I would have the kids complete a spelling packet over all of the 10 words and then we'd have a spelling/vocabulary test over the words. I want to make sure that kids aren't just learning how to spell 'superciliousness' (or some such other word) without knowing how to properly use it in conversation or writing. What's the use in that?

Well, I'll have to do a little more research, but I did see tonight that Teaching Happily Ever After posted about  this very thing! Her solution is a program called Words Their Way. It's something I'll definitely be checking out.

What about you? How do you differentiate spelling instruction?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Uncertain World of Subbing

I suppose it's high time I began a blog. I stalk enough of them on a regular basis, and I love to write, so this only makes sense. Plus, this year I actually have time to add something new to my plate. This year I'm unemployed... well, I suppose I'm technically employed because I'm going to be subbing the year away, but it's not the traditional employment of a certified educator.

You see, this is a brief illustration to help you understand the past four years of my life:
Follow along with my journey:
A: This is the site of Grace College in Winona Lake, IN. This is where, just over 4 years ago (2007), I graduated with my Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education.

B: I decided I wanted an adventure (and I couldn't find a job in Indiana), so I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and taught at a private school for 3 years. I loved 3rd grade!
C: Then my family moved to California. I was the only one on the East Coast! So, summer of 2010 I packed all of my belongings into a truck and high-tailed in to the San Francisco Bay Area.
I taught 5th grade at a private school for 1 year (I love 5th grade!) and then my family decided to move back to the Midwest (ugh! family!)
D: So, here I am... strangely close to where I first began. I'm in Northwest Indiana, hoping to land a permanent teaching job one day. For now, I'll put in my time and blood, sweat, and tears as a substitute teacher.

Ironically enough, my first sub position is at my previous private school in the DC area. A good friend is having surgery, so off I go! It's at least a 6 week gig, plus I get to be close to my friend during her recovery time. So, you can expect that the first few posts of this blog will encompass the adventures of an educator highly unqualified to teach Spanish and Computer to the little ones. :) Should be entertaining, no?