Help... I'm drowning in a sea of books!!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Green_eyed_gal, May 31, 2008.

  1. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    May 31, 2008

    I'm a new teacher and will be teaching fourth grade this coming year.. I have a ton of stuff to do and read and I don't know where to start. I need help prioritizing what I should be doing. I'm hoping the experienced teachers can help me.

    This is what is on my to do list:

    Read:
    The First Days of School (Over half way done)
    Teaching with Love and Logic (second reading)
    Tools for Teaching (second reading)
    6 + 1 Traits of Writing
    Four Square Writing Method
    Tribes
    Guiding Readers & Writers
    Practice with Purpose
    Guided Comprehension in Action
    Dealing with Difficult Parents (half way through the book)
    Positive Discipline in the Classroom

    Plan:
    First Week of school
    Reading
    Writing
    Math
    Social Studies
    Science
    Literacy Centers
    Writer's Workshop
    Reader's Workshop

    Misc classroom stuff:
    Classroom website (I've started this and work on it a little at a time)
    Classroom newsletter
    Settle on discipline plan (I have an idea...Just need to put into writing)
    figure out how to organize classroom library
    Homework spreadsheet
    Welcome letter to parents
    Meet the teacher activities & handouts
    Homework policy & incentives
    Figure out classroom jobs
    Writing process poster to track student writing

    I know there is more I left out...I'm adding to my list daily.

    Where do I start??? :help: I find myself doing a little of everything instead of sitting down and finishing one project. I think I'm overwhelming myself.

    School starts July 28th, teachers have to be back on July 22nd, I can't work on my room until July 15th because of construction, I have a week of new teacher classes in June and a week of SEI classes.

    Oh, I also have two kids I need to entertain so they don't kill each other over the summer!! :lol:

    Any input would be greatly appreciated!!
     
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  3. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    May 31, 2008

    I am in the exact same boat! I am a new teacher and will also have 4th grade, but will be in an "educational condo". I feel a bit overwhelmed at everything. I feel like I have so many questions all the sudden and don't even know where to start! The last day was yesterday and postplanning starts Monday. I'm going in and sitting down with the lead teacher and hopefully getting some direction on where to start. They are working on curriculum mapping, and that will give me an idea of what to start working on and planning for. Also, I'm getting the TE of everything and going thru and seeing what I need a refresher in and looking for ways to teach other than what the book suggests.

    I like all your books that you want to read, but it seems like an awful lot to read thru. If you have already read Teaching with L & L, I wouldn't read again. Maybe flip thru to refresh your brain.

    Some of the stuff under Misc. I've been looking for on other teacher's websites---like their letters home and meet the teacher activities. I get really overwhelmed with how much there is out there, and have to make myself pick something instead of continuing to look and look. Mrs Renz 4th grade site has been awesome!! http://www2.redmond.k12.or.us/mccall/renz/
     
  4. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    May 31, 2008

    I'm in the same boat with y'all. :) I'm slated to teach 5th, but I'm hoping my principal will move me to 4th.

    Anyway, I have many of the same books on my list as green_eyed_gal. Do either of you plan on joining our First Six Weeks of School book club? Signups are under teacher time out :)

    I'm feeling a bit lost because not only am I unsure of the grade I'm teaching (but at least it's only a difference of 1 grade level), but I also don't know what supplies I'll have access to, or where my budget money can be spent. I wish I had more specifics about which supplies I will have access to.

    I bought a binder and I've been jotting down procedures I'd like to teach, supplies I need to buy, standards and pacing guides for each subject, and general to-do's. I also am feeling overwhelmed. I think veterans might be able to put this all into perspective for us...I hope!

    Congrats to Green_eyed and BMAK, by the way!!!
     
  5. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I've never heard of these two books, can you briefly tell me why they're on your list? I also have "Strategies that Work" and my college textbook from Teaching Elementary Mathematics on my list to read. I remember my Math book had some great ideas, and it's been two years since I took the class.
     
  6. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    May 31, 2008

    Tribes is a good book, but you don't have to read it cover to cover. Are you planning on putting your kids in Tribes and doing the program? What I do is just skim the activities and do the ones appropriate for my grade level. We do some at the beginning of the year and I always hope to find time to do them scattered though out the year but it hasn't happened yet!

    I think you are taking on a lot for a first year teacher! I would only choose maybe one more book to read in addition to the ones you are currently reading. I'd focus a lot more on planning, especially your first two weeks. Harry Wong says to write a script for your first day, I did my first day and it was very helpful. I'd work on your discipline plan and class procedures. Get as much of that done now so when July comes around you can put a lot of effort into setting up your room.

    That's just my advice! Pick a few big things to tackle and really work out instead of putting too much on your plate at once!
     
  7. time2teach

    time2teach Companion

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    May 31, 2008

    First, take a deep breath! Then pull out a calendar, and start planning. Set a goal for what you want to get done. And don't forget to add lots of fun activities in for your kids.

    I would say the Welcome letter, letter to parents, back to school activities would be things you could find fairly easily on the web and just get them done. Check with teachers at the school see if they have a standard letter that they use.

    Class helpers - maybe wait until school starts and have the class help decide what type helpers you need. OR start with just a few. Line leader, Teacher helper, errand runner....and add if needed.

    Class Library - you can always do that when you move into your room or as the school year starts. And you can change it if you find it doesn't work. Maybe don't add all the books at once, add them as you can get them organized.

    Books to read - cut it down, you will get really overwhelmed reading all that.

    Remember....Keep it Simple!!
     
  8. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 31, 2008

    Excellent advice Kirby and Time2Teach. Thanks!!


    As I acquire books I get them put into Librarything.com. Over the summer I will pick a day or two and spread them all out to sort and put in baskets (when I find them). I will definitely enlist my kids to help. I am not leveling my books unless I get time this summer. At the rate I am going I will have 700 by the time school starts. I may level those Easy Reader type books by placing different colored stickers on them. I think my library will be a work in process throughout the school year so I can get it in a way where it works for me.

    I don't have to do the website b/c we do a grade level one which is fine by me.

    I probably won't read any books about guided reading or writing as I have 2 different 2 day workshops on that!

    I'll reread Love and Logic, Harry Wong (and visit the articles on his website), and I guess I will read The First 6 Weeks.
     
  9. emmakate218

    emmakate218 Connoisseur

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    May 31, 2008

    I'm in the same boat! :down:

    I wish I knew what will be in my classroom so I know what I need to plan to buy and what to not worry about.
     
  10. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    I'm at a total loss on classroom manipulatives. I have no idea what will be left for me. We are supposed to get money in July but I don't know where we can use it. I think School Specialty and maybe a couple other places.
     
  11. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I keep reminding myself that no one is ever FULLY prepared for their first year. Even the best teachers can't be ready for every little thing. At the very least, as long as we have a week's worth of lessons, our behavior plan, and procedures laid out I think we'll be ok :)
     
  12. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    You know you are overwhelmed when you take a bath with the Wongs. :) Seriously, I took a nice bubble bath and read more of The First Days of School. I like some of the ideas, but others seem older. But it made me remember a sheet that I found at someone's website that was good for planning procedures and helped get my mind more focused, if that is possible. Here are the points. Hope you find it helpful!
    • What to do when the bell rings
    • What to do when a pencil breaks
    • What to do when emergency alert signal sounds Rest room breaks
    How to enter the classroom
    • Where to find the assignment
    What students are to do when they want your attention
    • Headings on papers
    • Where completed papers go
    • Where to find an assignment if they have been absent
    • What to do at dismissal time
    • How a teacher is to quiet a class (think about when it is noisy!)
    What students are to do when they are done with an assignment
    • Morning routine
    Tardies
    Listening and responding to questions
    • Participating in class discussions
    • Keeping desk orderly
    • Checking out classroom materials
    • How students are to show that they understand something
    • Working cooperatively
    • Changing groups
    • Keeping a notebook (How students are to organize their materials)
    Going to the office (nurse)
    • Finding directions for each assignment
    Passing in papers
    • Passing back papers
    Exchanging papers
    • Getting materials without disturbing others
    • Handing out playground materials
    • Moving around the room
    Going to the library or a center of some sort
    • When a school wide announcement is made
    • Walking in the hall during class time
    • Responding to a fire drill
    • Responding to a severe weather alert
    • Responding to School Emergency (someone in the building with a gun) (Many schools now have policies like this in place due to the recent school shootings)
    • When visitors are in the classroom
    If the teacher is out of the classroom
    • Saying ‘Thank you’
    • If a student is suddenly ill
     
  13. diggerdeb

    diggerdeb Comrade

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    May 31, 2008

    WOW!
    Sorry to get off topic but....:woot:

    You start your new year on July 28TH????

    Where do you live?

    We do not end this year until June 27 and do not return until Sept. 3!:up:
     
  14. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Wow digger! We finished on Friday (may 30th) and start back Aug 4th! That is the Atlanta area.
     
  15. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    BMAK! Thanks for that list. I too have a procedure list I started.

    I burst out laughing about your bathing with the Wong's comments! :toofunny:
     
  16. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Not only am I bathing with them, I am sleeping with them too! I guess that could go under the heading of...You know you are a NEW teacher when you _________ with the Wongs! :)
     
  17. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I sleep with the Wongs, too. Last week I was sleeping with Mr. Jones. :blush:
     
  18. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    May 31, 2008

    I'm in Arizona... We have a modified year round schedule. We get two weeks off after every quarter and six weeks off during the summer.

    Thanks for the input everyone!! :2up: I realize I need to scale way back and I've decided not to worry about the writer's and reader's workshop right now. I tend to take on more than I should and I burn myself out, which is something I do not want to do. I just want to do a good job and I want the kids to learn. I just have to remind myself that I cannot do it all the first year.

    I've started planning my first week and have a list of procedures I want to cover. I'm going to work on my welcome letter and my website tonight and do a little reading. One step at a time and I'll have to remember to breathe through all this!!
     
  19. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    Ok, I've been thinking... What should I expect myself to accomplish my first year of teaching?? :dunno: Is reader's and writer's workshop something I should hold off till another year?? I want to do a super job my first year, but not kill myself... Uggghhhhh...:unsure:
     
  20. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Cut out some of the reading. You don't need the dealing with parents one until you find out you have an issue. You can refer to it then. Your main reading should center around management, positive discipline, and Wong. The rest can be read as you need to or feel like, but don't wear yourself out.

    I'd ease back on the planning. Your team may have some input and ideas for units. As far as curriculum, I'd get very familiar with the first month of standards, look over textbooks to see what's in there, teaching suggestions for lessons, and start creating files on your computer. I have some marked "Reading Ideas", "Writing Ideas", "Management Ideas", etc. When I see something I like, I copy and paste. I've gotten some from this site that I put in a file marked "Brainstorms". While you're looking at standards, look at what the state has on line for lessons. Google lessons for those topics and cut and paste. You just need ideas right now, not specific plans.

    You really need to have a good management plan.
    1. Where do they hand in work? Where will you post the homework? 2. How will you check homework? (Check it with them. What's the point of just checking practice work by yourself and handing it back to them? No one has a chance to correct errors or relearn something or ask questions)
    3. How will you keep track of who goes where at what time?


    I don't have a helpers chart. I have a plastic jar and popsicle sticks that have all the kids names on them. I pull names for almost everything I need help with such as passing out paper, collecting papers, passing out materials, going to the office, etc. Or for answers to a problem. Or for which team starts a game. The kids know it's fair. And it's one less thing to keep track of.

    Organize classroom library by genre. Use stickers on the books and a card with the genre and the sticker...like a key. Easy to do on a night when you want to watch television.

    By fourth they should be writing their own homework down. Perhaps your school has agendas? You need to get in touch with the team leader to find out so that you don't do things you'll have no use for.

    While you're talking to him or her, ask if they have welcome letters and what they put in them. Perhaps you can look at theirs and tweak it. We use the same letter for the whole team.

    I still don't more than the basics on my web site. Not worried about it.

    I don't use class newsletters anymore. I e-mail my parents about every two weeks and list what they need to know. This is a lot less time consuming.

    Don't overspend. Bulletin boards shouldn't be cute and useless. They should have information. And I don't like putting all mine up right away. I want to put them up as I begin to talk about it. So I have a couple of signs that say "Coming Soon" and a hint on it, like a photograph of Lincoln on a battlefield for a unit on the Civil War.

    Sorry, this is so long. Mentoring new teachers is one of my passions. I wish I could share your excitement in person. Just don't wear yourself out this summer with only school related work. (Although the ideas will keep coming no matter what you are doing.)
     
  21. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I'd reccomend you start with The First Days of School and Teaching With Love & Logic. These will help you figure out your procedures that you will need to teach early on and plan the first week of school. You will be hashing out your plans and procedures for classroom management all summer so start working on it NOW. Then tackle the curriculum related materials. You probably wont dive into writing projects immediately, so you can afford to put this on hold for a short time. I'd reccomend you focus on the writing before anything else because it is so time consuming to plan, and you have the least amount of manual help.

    I'm not familiar with some of these books, so I can't tell you which are the best. Most of your subject areas probably have teacher's manuals you can follow closely until you get your bearings. Keep in mind this is your first year; you don't have to be superteacher and do everything you ever imagined this year. As you go along you will think of different ideas you want to try and ways to modify lessons for the furture. A good teacher is always looking for a better way to make the information accessable and understandable to the students.
     
  22. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I'd hold off on the workshops until you get a better feel for what is expected of you and the children. Only in the past few years have I felt ready to tackle lit circles, and I really haven't jumped in with both feet quite yet. You may just want to follow the manuals until you feel comfortable striking out on your own. Maybe try one of the workshops later in the year for a month just to see how things go.
     
  23. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Green_eyed -

    One tip a veteran teacher gave me that really seemed to help me was to pick one subject per year that you want to be an expert in and focus most of your time and energy on that subject. That doesn't mean you don't think of great ideas for all subjects, but you devote the most of your creativity, planning, and research on that one subject. The next year you pick another subject, and so on. That means by year five (in theory) you'll have a ton of fantastic resources, lessons, kits, and most of all, confidence, in every subject.

    This year I chose Math (my weakest area confidence-wise). When I get great ideas I write them down, but I've been really focusing on Math.

    Maybe this tip won't have the same profound, "oh yea, that makes sense!" effect on you it had for me, but I thought I'd share.
     
  24. Green_eyed_gal

    Green_eyed_gal Comrade

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    Thank you... That makes sense to me!! :D I think I want to tackle writing for the same reasons you want to tackle math.

    I need to remember this because I tend to want to put my energy into everything and I just can't do that!! It's hard for me because I'm a perfectionist and I tend to want to excel at everything I do, which is not good. I've burned myself out many times.. My husband has to remind me to balance my time and energy and not be so focused on one thing.

    You have no idea how much I appreciate everyone's input.... Thank you!! :2up::2up::2up::2up:
     
  25. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    I would move Guided Readers and Writers up on your reading list, but just skim it for important topics. It will also tell you how to introduce reading for your first 20 days. There is also a section in there to tell you how to organize your classroom library. Before you start leveling your books, you need to find out if your school goes by grade level of the book, guided reading level, lexile level, or accelerated reading levels. Then you can mark your books.
     
  26. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    I completely agree with the idea of pick one subject to focus on more in depth. Last year it was science, this summer it will be reading. Otherwise you will have so much information on all the subjects that it will become overwhelming.

    I would only plan solid lesson plans for the first week or two. Other than that, jot down ideas but not lesson plans. It will take you awhile to see the pace of your class.

    Good luck!
     
  27. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I'm there now. Each year (by March or so) I have pinned down what I really want to work on over the summer. One year it was social studies notebooks, another vocabulary instruction. This year I'm going to try organizing/setting up a year-long overall plan for writing. What ever grade you teach, one of the best investments you can make (IMO) is to subscribe to the Mailbox magazine. I am almost never able to use the ideas right away, but I have saved every issue for the last seven years and they have been a godsend on more than one occasion.
     
  28. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I'm going into my fourth year, and I still feel like there is a huge amount that needs to be this summer. I started my annual 'summer notebook' today, where I put a heading on each page (classroom jobs, writer's workshop, classroom library) and then jot down all my to-dos, ideas, etc. on the subject. It then becomes my to-do list. I just have to make sure I have everything checked off by the time school starts-it doesn't matter the order, because the ideas are all organized in the book.

    You can also look at my website. It's all my ideas and lessons collected in one place. I'm referring to it more and more everyday, because it has EVERYTHING I need to get started. Here's the September page, with the back to school ideas. You could probably get a lot of good templates off here so you don't have to make your own. I'm also going to be posting all my TRIBES stuff soon, so you don't have to read the book-it will all be here.

    http://www.realclassroomideas.com/40.html
     
  29. Miss Kirby

    Miss Kirby Fanatic

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    Jem, you're only a fourth year teacher? :eek::wow:
     

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