Friday, August 8, 2014

Yearbook Photos

Dear Principal,

Got my Yearbook!
Yes, I was just like a 7th grader, instantly flipping back to the index to see what pages my name appeared on...
Raising money for Hurricane Relief, 2nd grade cleaning crew, recess sports tournaments

Started by 4th and 5th graders, continued by 8th graders, contributed to by all!

Need a friend? Someone to play with?

Took the Safety Patrol to work out with the Navy Seals. Awesome.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Dear Principal,

Finished the GATE Certification, Tier I, just waiting on the official certificate. Great opportunity to learn strategies to engage GATE students and help them create meaningful work. And of course many of the GATE student pedagogy can be used with the whole class.

Finished with year 1 of BTSA, the credential clearing program. Great to get back to learning more about each student's learning needs and planning lessons that connect to those needs. Differentiating lessons for higher and lower students, assessing and modifying throughout the unit... and it was great to see so many kids out playing soccer even when they did not have to!

The school year is almost over, time to get the Resume updated, newest Letters of Recommendation PDF'ed, interview shirts back from the cleaners...


Dear Principal,

Our Word of the Month for June:

Synonyms in Spanish and Tagalog!

I also printed up and passed out grade K-2 versions with simpler definitions and less synonyms.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Experimenting In Class

Dear Resume,

Inspired by comments on Twitter from the CUE Conference keynote by Dan Meyer about "perplexing" students as a way to help develop questioning and learning skills, I tried my hardest not to give them any answers yesterday. I was subbing in 3rd grade (the teacher gave me permission to deviate from her plans) and as we started the math lesson on likely, unlikely, certain, and impossible I skipped over the "we do" guided step. Did the vocabulary, discussed examples whole class involving the rainforests, then their weekend plans (certain most of them will watch movies and play video games all weekend; very unlikely any will read a book or get much exercise. But not impossible!) then I had them work with partners on problem #13 (1-12 were way too easy) while I worked with Special Ed and English Learners. (btw, how could we not have a very new/low ELA surrounded by students that speak his home language instead of in back row by behavior issue student?) Then the students shared solutions and explained how they worked through the problem, and asked their own questions about the problem and each others' answers.
I also snuck a little 4th grade standard in on them. Sat in on a 4/5 PD during my break last week and read through a new CCSS Language Arts unit sent down from the district about rewriting narratives from a different point of view. I grabbed Stuart Little and found where Stuart shot an arrow through Snowbell's ear to protect his little bird friend. We discussed why Stuart did it and how he felt (citing text evidence, of course) then listed what they thought Snowbell might have thought and felt about the situation. After recess was a Health lesson about resolving conflict so they wrote about a conflict, personal or made up, then rewrote it from the other person's point of view.

See what I did there? Common Core Standards, real world connections, student led inquiry, evidence driven answers, connections across content... get this man a classroom!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Professional Development

Dear Resume,

I know the phrase "Professional Development" can refer to specific training teachers must attend, or research done to prepare lessons, assessment, etc.. But isn't it also what I do in my non-teacher time, the museums I visit, books I read, even walks I take? Most of what a teacher does and is in his/her life probably makes it into the classroom, I would think.

Anyway, did a bunch of PD last week. Staff Development on CCSS, looking at Standards, rewording them and connecting them to current lessons. After a few minutes trading ideas on writing and speaking lessons with the Middle School P.E. teacher I hopped around to various groups (middle school ELA, 3rd, 5th) and listened/added my 2 cents.
Then it was on to BTSA for a Rick Morris session on engaging students; his focus is managing students and class time, I agree his "gift" is for solving problems. This has always been one of my strong points as well, being able to get to the root of an issue and fix it, quickly and simply. I think a lot of his management techniques fit well with Common Core, reducing classroom procedure and behavior stress/time wasted and allowing students more time for creating and producing work.
Next up was some CCSS online research, mainly New York's EngageNY site for great videos of teachers and students meeting standards and for lesson plan ideas. Part of me still doesn't understand the uproar or hesitation regarding the Standards. "Good teaching" is what I call it.

Finally, I watched this video. Several times. I think students need to be able to write a Tweet, a Blog, a video script, AND an essay.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday School

Dear Resume,

Taught like it was the 80s today, the 1880s -- had a one room schoolhouse full of 1st through 4th graders. They were supposed to bring a book and work to do, but the few that did were done in about 10 minutes...  so I read The BFG, they partner wrote predictions, I/they read lots of Seuss, we made foldable books, they wrote sticker stories, they gave mini presentations on what they were experts on (Science, wall ball, dinosaurs, etc.), I read more BFG, we collected trash from the play area, then they brainstormed and did some art. Whew!

Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story (e.g., Cinderella stories) by different authors or from different cultures.

Use linking words and phrases (e.g., becausethereforesincefor example) to connect opinion and reasons.

Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I am Influential

Dear Resume,

I love it when someone uses my idea in their classroom. Actually, I'm pretty sure this is the first time it's ever happened, so #momentousoccasion!*

*Yes, I know how to use "hash tags" and Twitter, and Instagram, and Vine, and lots of Google stuff.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Future Art

Dear Resume,

Our second Art Exhibit (not a contest, no competition or ribbons) involved the students looking into their crystal balls and seeing what the future will look like -- what will they look like? What job will they have? What will the world look like?


Favorite Childhood Book

Dear Resume,

A 5th grader has been asking about my favorite book was when I was his age, and every day I've given him a different answer -- too many to chose from! Finally made a choice, emailed the staff to please put their faves in classroom windows, and started a poll for the students. I've seen March Madness-style brackets to vote on the favorite-est of the favorites, let's see if I get enough suggestions to set that up.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Give Back Club

Dear Resume,

Another part of our 4th/5th grade Give Back Club's "The world would be better if..." project, a couple of big bulletin boards everyone can write on.

Captive Classroom

Dear Resume,

Each morning I have duty at the food court where all K-5 wait for the bell to ring. They have to be there; I choose to be there, partly to help keep an eye on things and get the morning started smoothly and partly to pretend I'm a one room school teacher from days gone by. Some days I send them on a run, grade by grade, sometimes I start an art project/exhibit (see Football Art and Your Future) and we have a wonderful Clean Up Crew of 2nd grade volunteers (those middle schoolers before us sure make a mess!). The latest is a lesson in alliteration to name the recess basketball tournament teams, i.e. Dunking Donuts or Wonderful Wildcats. I keep it very casual, don't want to spook them with the idea they're learning something before the bell rings, but I've caught some groups talking about alliteration in store/company names, some making nonsense rhymes all with same letter, and others actually coming up with team names (but c'mon, Bouncing Butter?!?).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.2.4 Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clearing that Credential!

Dear Resume,

Class tonight. I still love being a student. Almost done with Year 1 of  BTSA, next up is designing lessons and assessment, plus a couple more observations. I think the combination of focus on a single PE class plus the subbing at different grade levels has helped me to understand and put into practice the pedagogy concepts and techniques we're going over.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Everyday Object Art

Dear Resume,

Subbed in 3rd grade class today, did the Brainstorm activity and had a little time for Found Object Art while sending kids 2 by 2 to the nurse's office for head lice checks.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

English Teacher!

Dear Resume,

Spent the day as a middle school English Teacher (No, no Br'er Principal, don't throw me in that English class!), once again demonstrating my adaptability, versatility, and willingness to pitch in wherever needed.

On a side note, what's with Subs that never show up?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Instagram Teaching

Dear Resume,

I set up an Instagram account today (mrnauton) as an experiment. When I take pictures of activities at school for the yearbook or for my bulletin boards, the students always ask if I'm on Facebook/Instagram/Vine/a new one every week that I haven't heard of yet. Of course I have no desire to share with the entire school the treasured photos of my goofy boys, our fat cat, or the burgers I eat, but if our students are using it to share and communicate maybe I can sneak a little education and inspiration in?

Right now it will be photos of places we go (museums and the like) or cool things we find (full moons, cool plants, the Lego Movie!) but when I have a classroom it could be used to flip a lesson, share favorite books, and for students to demonstrate learning.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The world would be better if...

Dear Resume,

Chalk art was a success, yearbook staff came out and took pictures, middle school ASB added a lot of quality work. I couldn't find a ladder tall enough to get it all in! Now it can rain.
The world would be better if...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Give Back Club

Dear Resume,

Give Back Club started on the World be better... chalk art. Invited all the other classes to come add their thoughts and ideas.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Brainstorm Lesson

Dear Resume,

The concept for this mini-lesson was the Doodle 4 Google competition and the clever art of Javier Perez, who uses everyday objects in drawings. Each table group blindly chose an object (cork, battery, rubber band, hair clip, bottle cap, q-tip, Lego) and quickly discussed what other uses for the object they could come up with -- creativity counts! Set the timer for 1 minute then they traded for another object. Their goal was to listen to group member's ideas and build upon those ideas, working together to list as many uses as possible in the short time.

At the end of the day we went back to the brainstorm activity, this time each student chose an item and made a drawing around it (a straw became a periscope, a shell a pirate's eye patch, etc). I showed their art under the docucam and they traded for other items. Many thanks to Mr. Perez for his inspiration, the students loved his art!

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the students' work. Some were very creative!

Teachers usually leave a long list of things to do and a note saying "You won't finish it all, that's ok!" but I always manage to finish it all... do I teach too fast? Actually I think I rarely have student or time management issues, so we get quickly into the lessons. I always have a book I can read to them (Roald Dahl, The Wayside School) or a quick project such as this brainstorm one.

Common Core Standards:
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1b Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homework Club

Dear Resume,

Helping out after school with a 4th grade Homework Club. Talked to the 5th grade teachers about their students needing help, but they didn't jump at my offer. Hope I'm not coming across as the new guy who thinks he can do everything better.

Cuz I can't do everything better.


Monday, February 3, 2014

The world would be better if...

Dear Resume,

Working on my Digital Citizenship/Learning lesson plans and found the Google Doodle contest. Looks like fun, there are lesson plans and videos to show that focus on creativity and making the world a better place. Two of my favorite subjects! Without a class of my own I had to borrow and tweak a little, but came up with some brainstorm lesson ideas (to be tried out when I sub tomorrow) and a project for our "Give Back Club" that let the whole K-8 school get involved.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Right Choice?

Finally, a contract offer. 
Unfortunately, only part time at Bethune, plus two additional days teaching P.E. at another school.
Why would I turn down full-time employment???
Because I do not want to be a P.E. teacher next year, and I do not want my resume to merely list P.E. jobs.
So what's the plan?
Get back to subbing. I can be a substitute on Mondays and Fridays, I can sub at a lot of other schools, I can sub in Santee and Cajon Valley and La Mesa-Spring Valley, I can get back into classrooms and teach!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda Relief

Dear Resume,

First project for our "Give Back Club" really touched home at Bethune. 80% of our school's students are Filipino as well as a few teachers, the Librarian, and most of the parents that help out daily around the campus. Amazingly, not many of our families were directly impacted.
A group of 4th and 5th graders made signs to put up around the campus and decorated jars to put in the classrooms for penny/loose change collection. They also set up a jar in front of the main gates for before and after school and collected from parents as they walked by.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Word of the Month

Dear Resume,

This month's word: Empathy. How does it feel when you win or lose, play well or drop the ball? Can you understand how others feel when they succeed or fail? Special session for the recess football league due to a few players that feel no one should be able to celebrate winning without an answering temper tantrum. hmm...
I made copies of these signs for all the teachers and put them up in various places around the campus.

Math Tutor

Dear Resume,

Started helping tutor a few 6th graders in Math, mostly fractions. Sometimes I wonder why in the world they haven't "got it" yet, other times I think "Dang, this stuff can get confusing!"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pie In My Eye

...and in my ear, my nose, my shorts, my socks...

Dear Resume,

Was hit by many, many shaving cream pies today. All for a good cause, raising money for the school!

Friday, October 25, 2013

School Website

Dear Resume,

Must have a lot of teachers under Witness Protection, no one wants their info put on the school's website. I even passed out a nice little form asking for the standard teacher bio stuff: subjects taught, years teaching, favorite book, hobbies, educational inspiration, etc.. I thought it would be good for parents, or parents of a potential student, learn something about who is teaching their children. Hmm...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Football Art

Dear Resume,

Recess Football is going well, but like the ubiquitous NFL I want to expand into all areas. Started a "Name the Teams" contest and a football helmet/uniform art exhibit. I go out for morning duty every morning* and so many of the younger grades wanted to play football (the recess league is 4th/5th only) I wanted to let them be involved. Received some creative designs so far:

*Yes, every morning. No, I don't have to. But I get kicked out of my office/boy's locker room since Middle School starts before Elem and my daily prep is fairly easy. Plus this way I have a captive audience for extra projects like this!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Recess Football

Dear Resume,

I know, I know, most teachers cringe at merely the thought of a football on campus. Kids get too competitive, argue and fight, trip and fall, someone loses a tooth.... But I see it as an opportunity to foster good sportsmanship (only team captains discuss differences, arguing means sitting out a week), learning to be a good teammate (I chose the teams, blending boys and girls, 4th and 5th graders, skill and maturity levels), and appreciation of the sport being played for fun. Most of our students have never played any organized sport, while a few of them come from a very competitive sport culture. I am emphasizing getting all team members involved, everyone runs the ball at least once, and creating/practicing plays on days there are no games.

The FFL, Friday Football League, get ready for a recess game

Instructional Learning Team

Dear Resume,

While not an official member of the team (not an official member of the teaching staff either, but that can't stop me!), sat in on first ILT meeting. I want to know about and get involved with the behind the scenes aspect of education also. It's also good to work with the Vice Principal, I'm sure.
 First order of business? This Common Core stuff, and what should the school and teachers being doing to get ready? Seems like there are waaaaayyy more questions than answers at this point.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

School Website

Dear Resume,

I'll be working with a couple of Middle School teachers to update and maintain our school's website. I am the "Elementary Liaison" (just to give myself a cool sounding title) getting info and photos for events, field trips, classroom activities, etc. and putting it on the website. I'll also be gathering bio info from all the staff so we can get some pictures and info of who everyone is.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Word of the Month

Dear Resume,

First "Word of the Month" -- put up signs on my board and cart (aka "Mobile Classroom") and discussed with 2nd-5th classes what it means for sports and games. They discussed in small groups, shared ideas whole class, wrote on poster titled "I can show integrity in sports and games by..." 

"Learn it. Know it. Live it."