Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Celebration Give-Away Winner



Lynn chose the Super Star Common Core Packet. I hope you enjoy!

 Thank you for all the entries and all the nice things everyone said about my blog! Please make yourself at home and share your expertise!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Successful Teaching Tips

Have you ever tried to make things easier for yourself and ended up making things a lot harder? I do that quite often, but occasionally, I do find success in effectively simplifying my teaching life. Below is the list I have created to share with you from my classroom experience. I’m sure most if not all of these are applicable to a homeschooling mom as well. Since I am new to the homeschooling scene, I would love for you to share tips on what has worked best for you.

Successful Teaching Tips: 

Continue to educate yourself – My students always told me I was the best teacher they ever had, but I never let it go to my head! I encourage you to attend workshops, seminars, read books, research on-line, and be open to learning from others so you can be a better teacher every day. It’s important to keep learning because teaching is not an exact science. There are so many variables that we must juggle successfully and it would take several lifetimes to learn them all, so we do our best and keep trying to improve each year 

Find mentors that inspire you and encourage you – I have been blessed to have wonderful mentors during my teaching experiences. In my brick and mortar school, Janet McDaniel and Sally Campbell inspired me, taught me, guided me, challenged me, encouraged me, and helped me to deal with those difficult days. In the virtual school, Lindy Newman was my mentor. She supported me as I learned how to teach in a completely different atmosphere! These 3 ladies are what a mentor should be! As I begin my homeschooling journey, I am on the lookout for new mentors, but I will never forget how these ladies have made me a better teacher! 

Enlist support – Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a homeschooling parent, you can’t do it all. In my kindergarten classroom, I was assisted by the best paraprofessional in the world, Sharon Bagby! Since we were a Title I school, I co-taught some lessons with a Title teacher. We also had a high ESL population, so some of my students would be supported for a period during the day by an ESL teacher. I enlisted parent support any time they were available. Even my husband, would become my lovely assistant and read with students or teach a small group lesson. If you stepped in my classroom, you better be willing to do something with my students! In the virtual world, my students were assisted by their parents/learning coaches in an individual or small group basis. Even when you’re homeschooling, it’s important to reach out to others for their expertise. Sometimes all it takes is a different person to present a bit of difficult information in a different way for the light bulb to come on. 

Blank does not mean a lot of work, it means endless possibilities – I used to think that in order to differentiate for each of my students that meant I had to create something different for each of them. Do you know how much time that takes when you have 24 students? Too much! A blank/generic game and a dry erase board became my best friend. I could play the same game with a small or large group of students, but in order for them to take a turn; they had to answer/solve a specifically designed problem for them. Sally had to read sight words. Mark read short vowel decodable words. John read a sentence fluently, and so on… A blank piece of paper worked during math journal time… Sally created and then transferred an ABC pattern to her paper. Mark counted out 20 blocks, drew them on his paper, and labeled them. John used blocks to create addition problems to 6, drew these on his paper and wrote the number problem, and so on… Instead of looking at what you can create to teach the child, think about what the child can create to learn. 

Download this game and more for free. Just click on the picture above. This FREEBIE also shares differentiating ideas!
Have fun – There are a lot of standards to teach today and as teachers, we are goal oriented to get through each and every one of them. Just remember, “getting through” the standards is not teaching them and students learn better when they’re having fun. I don’t mean that you need to stand up in front of the class and entertain them; I mean they need to learn how learning can be fun. The way they do that is by watching you. If you have fun teaching, no matter what you are teaching, your students will have fun learning it. If you are struggling because it is a difficult concept and you can’t get into it, your students will feel that as well. One of my fondest memories of teaching in the classroom happened my first year. I had just presented a lesson to my students and then got them started with an independent task. I was walking around the room to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to do when P.J. piped up and said, “I’m so glad we have Mrs. Schneider for our teacher. She smiles a lot.” Then, returned to his work. If he thought I smiled before, I was beaming afterwards. Although they may not always say it, kids notice these things. Figure out how to make that concept you are struggling with fun for you, and it will be fun for your student too! As we all know, the standards are not the most important thing we teach our students… A LOVE for LEARNING is! 

I hope you walk away with a bit more inspiration for this school year. Don’t forget to celebrate with me and win your choice of one of the below products! To find out how, CLICK HERE!

Best Wishes this year!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Celebration Give-Away!

I’m excited about my new adventure and I want to celebrate with you! I’m giving away one of my Teacherspayteachers products!

* You can win one of the below products of your choice:

* The steps are easy!

1.  Follow my blog: The RV Classroom

2.  Follow me on Facebook: The Learning Wagon

3.  Email me @ Teacherjen@thelearningwagon.com with the following information:
      • Your name 
      • That you have followed my blog and Facebook page 
      •    Which product you would like to win.

On August 26th, all emails will be numbered. I will use random.org to choose the winner!

Best Wishes!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our New Adventure

Thank you for checking out The Learning Wagon and reading my new blog, The RV Classroom. If you haven’t taken the time yet to read the All About Me page, I encourage you to click on the About button to the left of the page and get to know me so you can better understand my adventure. The short version of my background is that I am married to my awesome husband, Andy Schneider, and we have two beautiful children, Caleb and Lily. I have taught for the past nine years, but this year, we decided to do things a little different… 

This year, I am going to begin my homeschool journey with my children and not that any homeschool situation is “typical,” as each homeschool classroom is different from the next, but I believe our homeschooling style may be on the more unique end. Although I could be wrong…

Andy and I recently bought a 24’ RV as we travel a great deal for his work and packing and unpacking to stay in various hotels each night with two small children was a pain, so we felt that if we packed everything one time and then just hauled it from one place to the next it would work better. It has! We really enjoy our RV and after each of Andy’s business trips, we’ve been stopping at fun RV campsites to enjoy ourselves as well. 

Since we are on the road/camper so much, it has become my classroom to homeschool my children as well… Hence the title: The RV Classroom.

Right now, Caleb, my two year old, is working on his alphabet, singing nursery rhymes, rote counting, counting objects, colors, shapes, and various other skills and concepts as they come up in our environment. He loves to read and be read to. He’s very eager to learn and apply what he’s learned to new things. For example, he’s learned the letters O and I. Now he points them out anywhere he sees them; Ingles, Food Center, Pool, etc…

Lily, my five month old, is learning new things every day. She is rolling around like a little ball, starting to push with her feet to propel herself forward, although usually on this slick floor she moves backwards, and talking up a storm. Her determination to sit up is amazing. It won’t be long now. She dazzles us every day with new fetes.

Living in the RV does have its challenges. Four people in 240 square feet of living space taken up with beds, tables, a kitchen, bathroom, cabinets, and more gets quite small on rainy days when we’re stuck inside, but we always manage to find something fun to do as a family and no it’s not watch TV. We don’t have one. We try to be creative. Have I mentioned there have been many rainy days lately? In fact, at a time we are normally in drought 19 inches, we are in excess of 24 inches so far! Some of the things we’ve done on these days are listed below.

1.       Sing Rain, Rain go away! & It’s Raining! It’s Pouring! The old man is snoring! In fact, we have music playing constantly pretty much the entire time we are in the camper. Caleb loves music and the first thing he does in the morning upon waking is say “Susic,” which is "music" and turns the player on. We also do a lot of dancing as you can’t have music without dancing! 

2.       We punch up in the air as we say each of the letters in the alphabet. Then, we stomp each letter. Then, we clap each letter.

3.       We read books in his bunk bed together.

4.       I make up stories and act them out with his toys. This is one of his favorites!

5.       We practice our animal sound… What’s a cow say? Mooooo! What’s a owl say? Whooo! Whooo!

6.       We find shapes in the camper. Today, he found circles on the sides of the drawers where holes had been drilled for screws and the wheel that makes that drawer move in and out of the cabinet. He found squares and rectangles on the floor and the rectangle vent cover. 

7.       We take pictures of Caleb and Lily playing together with toys, because I don’t want to forget these sweet moments.

8.       We play with puzzles.

9.       We line monster trucks up and count them as they go zoom across the floor.

10.   We do go outside in the rain sometimes. Caleb has large metal Tonka trucks that he likes to catch the rain water in and then dump out. I also give him a paint brush that he uses to paint the rain water on everything.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my first blog post. I will keep them coming as maybe some of our experiences will inspire you to, “Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!” just like Ms. Frizzle always said. I always wanted to be a teacher like her. Now, if I could just find that magic panel on this RV…

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