I had a first round interview that was done through an online thing. I had to answer four questions and if the principal liked your answers you would be invited for a face to face. Well, I didn't get chosen for the second round and I would appreciate some input on my answers. Give an example of how you differentiated in your classroom. I had a group of 2nd graders who were at a significantly higher reading level than the other students in class. They could finish even the challenging assignments from the reading series with ease. Most of them were reading well above grade level and loved to read. I found a reading workshop site that had reading notebooks and I made a notebook for each high level student. Inside it had checklists, goal sheets, genre information, and reading logs so the students could track their own reading interests. It also had character information, comprehension activities, vocabulary tasks, and reflection sheets to challenge their thinking. They were able to choose their own books from home, the school library, or my classroom library to use with this notebook system. The students loved it. When they finished with their grade-level assignments they were free to get their notebook and work through the pages in it at their own pace. In future years it is my hope to expand the notebooks to all the students in the class so that each student has pages that are at his or her individual reading level. What is 21st Century teaching and learning and how do you implement it in your classroom? Whenever I hear about 21st century skills it is typically from business people who say that today's students are not prepared for college or the workforce. They say that they are behind in core subjects, lack the ability to work well with others and use critical thinking to solve problems. Basically, they are not ready for the challenges that college and today's job market require. To be a 21st century learner students need to be able to solve problems, distinguish fact from opinion, create valid arguments, have the ability to think for themselves and take responsibility for their decisions. I have attended several Kagan Structures cooperative learning trainings. In my own classroom I use these engagement strategies to increase communication and team working skills. The students are encouraged to work with partners or a group during each lesson so that all students are equally participating. I also work to incorporate hands on and inquiry based activities in each lesson. I try to apply real world examples as often as possible. This allows my students to think critically and have real opportunities for problem solving that will translate to other areas of school and life. Technology is also a huge component because there is so much technology being used in today's society. Students need to be able to use technology to gain and convey information. My classroom in District 2 only had an overhead projector so I went out and found a projector and document camera to use in my classroom. With this I was able to open a whole new realm of technology in my lessons. I look for interactive websites and educational video clips to incorporate into my lessons. I found a science website that showed all the different types of clouds and showed how to identify each type. The students took notes in their science notebooks and were excited to go outside and try to identify clouds on their own. I also use the document camera every day. My students loved being able to show their work to the entire class. It also made it much easier to demonstrate a math topic when I was able to use the exact same manipulatives as the students were using. I also have plans to acquire a wireless writing pad to increase the technology and student engagement even further. Someone once said that the technology that a first grader will be using when she has graduated high school hasn’t even been invented yet. This helps to understand the importance of technology when thinking about 21st century learning. Tell us about your strategies for teaching reading to primary aged children. During my student teaching I was at a Colorado Reading First school where they grouped for ability. I worked directly with the lowest level reading students. That school focused on explicit, direct instruction using systematic methods and drills for teaching the basics of reading. We had great success and saw many of the students move to proficient by the end of the year. I also had great success using reader’s workshop techniques and writer’s workshops. My students loved being able to have control over their own writing topics, moving at their own pace in the writing process and did very well on assessments. In my own classroom I like to use a combination of both methods when teaching reading. I feel that systematic lessons help create a strong foundation and fill any holes that a student may have. Many times students need repetition or direct instruction in order to fully understand a topic. I use Read Naturally texts and phoneme charts to increase fluency and phonics. I use games and center activities to increase phonemic awareness. I use charts and word walls to help increase vocabulary and partner activities and games to increase comprehension. At the same time a teacher needs to foster a love of reading that won’t be accomplished through direct instruction. I allow my students to follow their interests and read books of their choice. I encourage them work with other students and to read as often as possible both at home and in the classroom. I feel that a student who loves to read will do much better in reading than a student who hates it. To help this I worked very hard to create a large classroom library that has a wide variety of reading levels, genres, and topics to pique the interest of even the most stubborn reader. I also try to incorporate writing as much as possible since both reading and writing go hand in hand. I encourage students to write about the books they’ve read. I use literature to teach writing and encourage students to use the characters and plots in books to create stories of their own. I found that this was a very effective strategy to increase their writing abilities as well as their reading skills. How do you develop a positive behavior climate in the classroom? I work very hard to create a positive environment in my classroom. I pulled from several sources to create my management plan including Love and Logic and Responsive Classroom. My classroom management plan is based off of a checklist that I carry around on a clipboard. I try to focus on positive behavior first. I give out points to students who are on task or following directions. Then at the end of the day the student with the most points earns a prize or privilege for the next day. I find that this is more effective than focusing on negative behavior because as soon as other students hear that Jane got a point, they jump up to try to get one as well. If students are behaving inappropriately I keep track on the checklist and administer consequences as necessary. For challenging students I use an individual behavior plan and work out specific rewards and consequences for that student. Responsive Classroom emphasizes the need to create a positive classroom community. I start building my classroom community on the first day of school. I use morning meetings and class meetings where students are encouraged to listen to and get to know each other. I have found that this allows students to work together better and helps decrease the amount of arguments in class. I also use games and engagement strategies to keep students interested in the lesson. The engagement strategies I use come from my training and experience with Kagan Structures and Power Teaching. Those strategies are designed to get at least 50% of the students participating at once. This is done with think-pair-share, talking to a partner, choral responses, and having partners support each other’s learning. It may also include having students create lists or play quick games. Most importantly, it makes the lessons fun where students want to learn and are excited to be in class. Another key component to creating a positive environment is consistent parent communication. I send home weekly newsletters that tell parents what is going on in the classroom and what events are coming up. I try to put a personal note on each newsletter and do calls home for both positive and negative things. Queen Palmer had what they called a positive referral where if Andrew did something really good or had a great test score then he would get a phone call home telling his parents what a great job he had done. It was very effective and is something I plan to incorporate in my own classroom to give students something to work for.