Looking Ahead

Before school was out for the summer, I went to visit my classroom for next year. I was wowed by how RED this room is. They say red boosts energy levels, so that could be a positive or negative, depending on this next group of children : ).

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The previous teacher still had her posters and supplies in the room, so at this point, it is difficult to imagine what my future classroom might look like… but it’s fun to start dreaming : ).


End-of-the-School-Year Madness

I’m going to zoom you through the last week of school so then maybe you’ll understand why I’ve been on a 2 week retreat from anything school-related (including blogging about school! : )).

On your marks…. Ready… Go!

My 5th graders and I took a trip to Springfield to sight see and to conclude our Abraham Lincoln studies, so the next day, we made scrapbooks (chaos pictured above : )). 

Here they are posed with a young Abe Lincoln at the museum. They thought the wax figures were creepy but yet they were so fascinated that it was hard to leave.

We went inside the new capitol building as well. Here’s a photo I captured of the outside, and a student added his thoughts on the printed photo with his Sharpie marker. (To see closer, click on the image above.)

The 6th graders and I went to Six Flags as a reward for following through with their behavior contracts. Somehow I was signed up as a chaperone for an all-boys group (my 6th grade boys plus 2 more from another class). Here we are after our third time on their favorite water ride. These boys sure talked a lot of smack on the bus ride to the theme park, but once we were in front of the X-Flight (the latest amazing rollercoaster), their inner chickens surfaced and they refused to even get in line to wait while I rode the coaster. Bummer. Maybe next time : ). 

Then the 6th graders graduated from elementary school. I was strict about dress code: boys had to wear ties and girls had to wear skirts or dresses. My class was the finest looking 6th grade class this year. Of course, I may be just a bit biased : ).

(Note: To look at the pictures in a larger view, click on the image.)

During the 6th grade graduation, my 5th graders were industriously helping serve cupcakes to the many 6th grade family and friends that attended the celebration. Here’s the aftermath:

Valeria and Tamara not willing to show off their blue mouths…

Oscar and Marcelo begging for a third cupcake…

Ariana’s natural hospitality shining through…

And as Marcelo phrased it: ”Miss Siscoe, I think I just died by cupcake.” (a.k.a. too many cupcakes)

Then I concluded this field-trip-loving lifestyle by packing up yet another classroom… nothing like teaching at 4 different schools in 5 years (hopefully I’ll stay put in this next school for a while : )).

27 boxes of teaching tricks. Impressive considering last year I was only able to bring back 100 pounds of anything from Costa Rica (in other words, I hardly brought any teaching items back to the U.S. lol… seriously, how did I accumulate so much in just one year??!)

And the classroom ready for the next teacher to move in…

Whew! There you have it. The end-of-the-year madness marathon.

Team Builders

Team building is very, very important in a classroom environment. If you doubt how that might play into putting 20-some kids into one room and expecting them to get along for 9 months, reflect back to your elementary days, haha.

The 6th grade classes recently ventured out on a camping field trip, and I was introduced or reminded of the many team-building activities that are out there that could easily be adapted for classroom use. I will be using some of these ideas in the fall to unite my next class.

Note: Click on individual photos to get a closer look.

Big Deal Blogging

Okay, so this is a BIG DEAL, thus the need for capital letters : ). In our district, we have district coaches for math and reading instruction. Last week, the district math coach, Deb Devine, was facilitating a professional development course in my school’s computer lab after school. Deb asked if she could use my computer and printer during the afternoon to prepare, so she was half-listening to our math lesson and mostly-focused on what she needed to accomplish.

At the end of the lesson, Deb asked if I would take a photo of my whiteboard and send it to her so she could put it on her blog. (My jaw nearly hit the floor in surprise… Excuse me? You mean I’m a first year teacher in the district and you’re going to use my strategies to teach others?? Wow, what an honor!!)

So here’s the link to my debut on Deb’s blog. Maybe there will be more in the future : ).

Quotes for Thought


Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein

I am continually amazed by how many students are labeled “learning disabled.” The term has even come out of my mouth over the last few months as I desperately search for the reasons for why students are flailing like fish out of water. When I came across this quote a few weeks ago, it reminded me that I’m not looking hard enough for my students’ strengths… like the boy that I’m pretty sure has some form of dyslexia is great at drawing cartoons. Or the boy who is able to decode words in a 2nd grade book is the most active participant in any kind of current events debate. We all have our gifts that we bring to the table.

Smart isn’t something you are; it’s something you get.

We all find ourselves in situations where we feel uncomfortably unskilled. It’s easy to assume that everyone else knows what they’re doing in the situation BUT even more importantly, anyone that is skilled has worked to become skilled. Current research says is takes 10,000 hours of practice to be an expert on any one topic. Mozart practiced piano for 10,000 hours before the age of five. Result? “Child prodigy.” So next time you’re feeling like everyone else “gets it,” remind yourself that it’s okay to not get it yet. You just have 9,999 hours of practice to go.

Today’s new knowledge is tomorrow’s background knowledge. — P. David Pearson

Today’s information overload can be overwhelming, especially considering that whatever I learn today will be outdated as it morphs into new news by tomorrow. The more important skills to have now include creative thinking, evaluation, and synthesizing the new with the old. No small task to ask of ourselves.