Friday, August 18, 2017

The Best Part of First Grade So Far Is...

...RECESS!  Not the new tables, not all of the team building and class building activities that have been carefully planned, not going to lunch or having snack, but according the the first graders--recess by far is the best thing about first grade!  Boy, do I have my work cut out for me this year!

This is the first time the first graders get to go outside with the rest of the grades in our school and enjoy the 30 minute break.  Our Kindergarten program was a half-day program last year, so they didn't get the recess break.

However, what the little firsties don't know is that the recess break they think they are just getting to play and have free time is really an opportunity for some serious life skills to be developed.
 They learn to take turns, wait in line or wait for their turn. They learn valuable problem solving skills, as well as learn how to develop and strengthen friendships. Out on the playground, they learn how to show kindness to new students as well as those that are having a rough day.  

For now, I'm going to let the children continue thinking that recess is just playtime---I think they will figure out that some of the skills they need to succeed in life may have just developed on the playground!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Significant 72 - It's All About Building Relationships

In Woodridge District 68 the first three days of school are about building relationships. We call this the Significant 72...three days of just getting to know each other. Three days of getting acquainted, creating identities, providing mutual support, celebrating diversity, and developing synergy.  These are the five aims of building relationships according to Dr. Spencer Kagan, author and speaker in the field of education and psychology.

These five aims are achieved through Teambuilding and Classbuilding activities, not only beginning with the first three days of school but continuing throughout the school year. Students learn to build trusting relationships, work collaboratively, and create a community of leaders...all skills that students need to be prepared for the fast-paced, competitive and changing environments that lie ahead of them. It prepares them to be problem solvers and innovators. They learn to work closely with others .

One of my favorite teambuilding activities for building relationships during the Significant 72 is Celebrity Interview.  Students create 3 "Getting to Know You" questions for their teammates. When all questions are created, each teammate (celebrity) stands to wild applause and then answers the questions.  The structure is over when all teammates have answered the questions. By answering the questions, teams are learning a lot about their classmates. Below are pictures and video of some of our celebrities.

Below is one of our celebrities answering the created questions from teammates.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Year, New Friendships

The first day of school is always an exciting time in the building.  The teachers and staff at Goodrich have been hard at work preparing for students to walk in the doors.  With many new staff members, the new full day kindergarten program, and an early start to the year; the level of enthusiasm throughout the building was certainly elevated.  Greetings and smiles from former, current, and future students added to the positive atmosphere.

Throughout the building our teachers and staff spend our first several days helping our students get to know one another, their teachers, and their school.  In fifth grade we focused our first day around team building and class building.  In order for our school year to be successful, our students need to feel safe in their classrooms.  The best way to do this is by building relationships between one another.  It was great to see the fifth graders ready to jump in and interact.

Swap Talk to learn about our classmates

Creating name tags to share in a Round Robin

Writing and reading our "complimentary" coffee

 Pretzel-Unpretzel classbuilding

We can't wait for an exciting year in the fifth grade!  With so many welcoming and kind students, we are certainly in store for some wonderful experiences this year!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Closing Time

As we reflect on our 2016-2017 school year, I am reminded of all the amazing things my 6th graders have accomplished this year…not only academically, but socially and emotionally.

It’s hard to let go of a class you love, especially when they are moving on to a new school. It is a little easier knowing they will move on and do some amazing things with their lives…and they are ready!

As this chapter closes in their lives and a new chapter begins, I wish them success and hope that they will take with them everything learned here at Goodrich...especially their kindness and caring!

As it says in the last line of the song “Closing Time”…”Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”

I hope their new beginning at the junior high will be amazing! 

They will be missed by all of us!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Applause makes everything better!

I have had many wonderful classes over the years. Each class has been different. Last year my class became obsessed with flying paper airplanes. Another class I had loved to make up games during free time.
This year, my class is into applause (and I love it!) For example, we were watching a news story about how the manatee has been removed from the endangered species list. After the story was over, they spontaneously applauded!  We all were happy about the event, but applause makes you feel even better.
My favorite applause moment was when we were in the midst of number talks. Number talks require the students to come up with several solutions to a math problem in their heads. They then supply the answer and I choose students to defend their answers. One of our students that often struggles with this process offered up an answer.  This student had never participated before, and I called on him to defend his answer. He gave his reasoning and the class burst out in applause! It brought tears to my eyes.

When I was a kid (so long ago) I was at a movie with my class and we applauded at the end of the movie. When we returned to school, the teacher told us that you only applaud live performances. That has always stuck with me but now I think she was wrong.
I recently went to see the movie Beauty and the Beast and everyone applauded at the end. Yeah!!! When you applaud you are expressing your approval and happiness for something that has happened. I love that my students are so lighthearted in my class that they often express themselves this way.
Let’s fire up our endorphins and throw conventions to the wind! Come to my class if you want to hear some applause!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fun at the Zoo!

Last week I had the opportunity to go on a field trip to Brookfield Zoo with our kindergartners and sixth graders.  Every teacher goes into a field trip with worries, will the kids behave, will the weather be nice, ect.  I myself had the same worries; especially with this being my first time going to the zoo for a field trip.  However, from the moment we stepped off the bus, the 6th graders took over!  They held hands with their buddies, asked them what they wanted to see and even helped them find animals.  It was so good to see how our sixth grade students took over and watched over their buddies. 

I was AMAZED! 

Now I knew we had some pretty awesome 6th graders, but I did not know they were this amazing.  At one point myself and the other parent I was with looked at each other and said at the same time, “this is the easiest field trip I have ever helped at!”  Not once did we have to manage behaviors, or figure out where to go next, that was all up to the 6th graders.  They even gave up seeing some of the animals they wanted to see because the kindergartners wanted to see a different animal.

After this experience, this is definitely a field trip I would attend every year!

Build A Better World at the Woodridge Public Library

As the school year winds down parents often ask, "What do I do with my kids all summer?" The answer for the students at Goodrich could very well be the children's programs at the Woodridge Public Library. We were lucky enough to have two librarians come to visit us to let all the students know about everything that they will be offering this summer. Both Patti Naisbitt and Katie Lehman work at the library with students to provide them with both reading and other summer programs. Build a Better World is the theme this year and many of the activities center around building, whether it is building with Legos, a Mousetrap Machine Show with Dr. Smartypants for all ages or the Coding club for students in grades 4-7.

The reading club sign up begins on June 3rd. New this year is the online registration. You can find all of the program information on this site. Also on June 3rd is the summer reading kick-off. There will be a Lego Engineering display and build workshops. Make sure you register before attending as space is limited for the Lego build workshop on this date! 

The students might enjoy many of their other offerings that include a soccer clinic by the Chicago Fire, the Sky Tonight Planetarium by the Discovery Center and Lego club for grades 1-7. If you live in Woodridge you may have received the Library Leaves flyer in the mail. This flyer outlines all of the activities that are available! The best news is that ALL students who go to Goodrich school can participate! You do not have to live in Woodridge to take advantage of the programs.

If you want to express yourselves creatively you can join one of theater classes that are offered. Be entertained by the Improv Playhouse Theater for Young People as they bring the classic tale, The Emperor's New Clothes to life on July 7th.  And if acting isn't your "thing" then maybe you will want to join the library on Fridays to watch a movie. Bring a lunch to munch on while you watch! 

There are many more programs available from baby to adult. So,the next time your kids ask you for something to do this summer, your answer should be "Let's visit the Woodridge Public Library!" 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Keep Up the Pace!

Keep up the Pace!

Summer is almost here!  It’s a great time to get outside, enjoy the weather, enjoy all of the fun activities in the summer,bike riding , swimming, baseball, soccer,fireworks, barbecues, and vacations.  Another fun activity for the summer is reading!  During the school year students have worked hard at reading and improving their reading skills.  Parents, you are your child’s first teacher.  You need to make sure that all of the hard work and growth that your child has made during the school year is not erased over the summer.  Most children need and want structure.  During the school year they are on a schedule.  That helps for them to know what is coming and what is expected of them.  Keeping track of what your child has read and for how long they have read is great incentive for them to see their progress.  Ask your children questions about what they are reading.  Questions like making predictions.  “What do you think the book will be about?”  “What do you think will happen to that character?”.  Talk about big unknown words and their meaning.  Make connections to the story.  “I remember how my dog acted when I was  a kid.”  Visualize the story. “Close your eyes and picture it in your head.”  “Can you feel the cool wind on your face?”  “ Can you hear the dog barking?”    After reading discuss if the child enjoyed the book. Would they recommend this book to friends?  Would they want to read another book by the same author?  Remember parents,  you are your child’s first teacher and it is up to you to continue their learning throughout the summer.  Keep up the pace and continue reading in your busy summer schedule!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Building Lasting Relationships

A while back, the student council sponsored twin day at our school. The students came in, some dressed in the exact same outfit, while others just went with the same scheme, or color. It was so great to see how many students were participating in a fun, themed school day.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the day was how many students decided that they weren't just going to be twins, they were going to be triplets and quadruplets and small groups of "twins." This is a wonderful and truthful testament to the work we have done at this school to build relationships with and between students. They didn't want anyone to be left out and often found unlikely similarities in their classmates so that they would all feel included.

Even the staff was taking part in the days festivities. My great friend and colleague Mrs. Weber and I always dress as twins on this day and, without planning, we often do on other days as well. She has been the greatest teaching partner I could have ever asked for and the community of this school is what brought us together. We support each other through the good times and the more challenging.

This school is full of great relationships and works hard to keep them growing stronger every day.

Baseball Twins 

Denim group of "twins"

Best bro's 

Denim dress triplets

My work BFF!

Friday, May 26, 2017

A Journey "Under the Sea"

Today the first and second graders were bubbling with excitement, it was our field trip day!  We went to Downers Grove South High School to see the Drama Club’s performance of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid Jr’. The high school students did an AMAZING performance. Everyone was MESMERIZED by the STUNNING costumes, the singing, the acting, the stage props, and the special effects.

Students were so excited and engaged throughout the entire play. The high school students did a FABULOUS job, they are indeed a group of talented performers. After the performance was over, the actors greeted us in the hallway. We got to see the ENCHANTING costumes and performers up close. They even greeted us with 'high fives'.

The performance was indeed a first class pass to a Journey 'Under the Sea'.