Saturday, October 29, 2016


Remember the Roots
Fall is such an exciting time of year – fun field trips, cooler weather, changing leaf colors, and exciting holidays. Fall is when we build foundations; literally place down roots, put bulbs and transplants in the ground, prepare plants and vegetables for a long winter and their reappearance in the spring. Fall is a time for harvesting and preparing for (re)birth. This same concept is applicable in our classrooms as well.

As a first grade teacher, we spend the first half of the year hammering in phonics, focusing on reading, and preparing our students for a huge growth with the arrival of spring. We create a classroom environment that is safe and nurturing. We help our students with social challenges and encourage them to build friendships with their peers. We teach number knowledge so students can move on to grasp larger math concepts throughout their education. We build the foundations so our children can put down their roots and prepare to blossom, just like our plants in the garden.

I think it is important in every sense to remember our roots. As part of the Gardening Club here at OHE, I’ve seen how important it is for children to have their hands in the dirt and to have something that they can grow and call their own. As a teacher at OHE, I see the same importance in becoming part of a community, a family, a safe place to call “home”. Fall is a time to create new habits, nurture old passions, and pass those on to our children.

We all must remember that without good soil, consistent watering, the correct environment, and a little TLC; nothing will grow. What better metaphor than that of plants and fall to use for the education of our students? The more time we put into building a strong foundation and fostering the roots, the more likely we are to see tremendous growth and transformations when we awake again in the spring. 

Monday, October 10, 2016


Ms. Garza's lovely new kinder class is kicking off to a great start!

This past week we have been learning all about shapes. These kiddos have gone over numerous shape books including: "Monster Knows Shapes." We then created our monster shape book and it didn't stop there. At the end of the week, I thought it would be a great idea to start the month of October with our very own Jack-o-lantern. We first discussed what type of shapes can be used for a Jack-o-lantern and the students came up with rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles. As I carved the pumpkin, we talked about whether a pumpkin was a vegetable or a fruit, and what you can create with a pumpkin. I then had my wonderful students put their senses to the test and help dig out the lovely pumpkin seeds. They said the pumpkin smelled gross, the insides felt squishy, and the color was orange. Once all the seeds were out, we counted the number of seeds we had....289!! ( That's a lot of seeds!) My class and I voted and came up with the shapes we were going to use for our pumpkin. We decided 2 triangle eyes, 1 triangle nose, and a rectangle mouth. We sure do love our shapes and will continue learning while having fun.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Whole Brain Teaching In Progress at Oak Hill

Do you remember sitting through class while your teacher stood up front and talked for 45 minutes? When it was time to do an assignment afterwards, was it easy to recall or apply the information? A few of the teachers at Oak Hill remember sitting through those exact lessons and then not being able to retain that information.  We want to do everything we can to change that.  This is why a few of us have adopted a method called Whole Brain Teaching.  

What is Whole Brain Teaching? It is an integrated method that combines effective classroom management with pedagogically sound approaches to student engagement that are effective with a wide range of student learning populations. Basically, like I tell my Second Graders,   “Whole Brain Teaching is using all parts of our brain (our whole brain) to learn and teach each other”.

Mrs. Bentley, Mrs. Hernandez, Ms. Kittredge, Mrs. Thompson, and I all attended a very informative Whole Brain Teaching Conference this summer in hopes to apply this strategy in our classrooms.  We have been very successful so far.  The kids are able to use physical motions, repetition, images, spoken language, and the brain’s emotional core to help with learning. 

This is Mrs. Bond’s Class. The back row is holding the punctuation mark while the front row is showing the motion we do for that punctuation mark. 

Mrs. Bentley’s class is showing us the Place Value Power Pix.  Each subject has a picture, question, answer, and gesture that goes along with it.  All of these come together to allow the students to utilize many different ways to remember the information. 

 These two are showing part of how we do oral writing.  At this age, we are trying to make sure the students are using capitalization, punctuation, and sentence extenders.  He is showing us the motion of a capital letter and she is showing us the sign we use for because.  Students come up with their own sentences and share them with the class.  They use the proper motions while presenting the sentence to us.  This is also reflected in their journal writings.  Since their brain is using multiple ways to remember what to do, it is also applied in their writing. 

Mrs. Kittredge's class reviews the class rules. 

Obviously, there is a lot that goes into Whole Brain Teaching.  I can tell you that the results I have seen are wonderful.  The kids get so much more involved in learning because most of it feels like a game.  They teach their partner’s about what we have just learned.  They apply the skills/concepts we have learned into their everyday work, and then they beg to do more Whole Brain Learning.