Monday, October 29, 2012

And It Begins...

Wow.  Well, I guess I kind of abandoned the journey.  The blog, that is.

My journey has been well under its way since August 13th.  My student teaching placement is in kindergarten at a nearby elementary school, with the teacher I requested.  I was ecstatic about the placement when I found out, and it has been such an amazing experience since that day.

We have a classroom of 21 students.  We have eight girls, and thirteen boys.  It is absolutely chaotic, and some days we feel like all we have done all day is simply wrangle geese.  That is, we have simply reminded them of rules and really not taught anything.  But, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE EVERY RAWKUS MINUTE OF IT!

We began the second nine weeks today.  Tomorrow we are closed because of hurricane Sandy dangers, but I anticipate we will be back in school Wednesday for our Fall Festival day!  We are not permitted to wear costumes to school Wednesday for Halloween, so the school has created a Fall Festival day in which we do all things fall-related.  We create hay scarecrows, get our faces painted, (and other things I can't remember), have a Halloween class party, and gather as a whole school to watch It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (or whatever it's called).  I hope we are back in school for this day... I am super excited to see the kids' reactions!

This nine weeks we covered SO much!

Language Arts:
Upper and lowercase letter recognition
Letter sounds
Writing, recognizing, and letter sound of: Mm, Ss, Bb, Rr, Ff, Dd, Nn, Pp, Cc, Hh, Tt, Gg
Sight words: a, I, my, like, the, go
Author/Illustrator roles
Front/back cover and title page of books
PALS testing

Counting 1:1 correspondence
Rote counting to 25
Identifying numbers 1-5
Identifying positions
Creating and identifying sets that have more, fewer, or the same number of objects as a given set

Basic life processes of plants
What plants and animals need to survive
Sorting based on a feature (flexible/stiff, curved/straight)

Social Studies:
Betsy Ross

I KNOW I have forgotten some things, but this just shows you, our babies have learned SO much since they stepped foot into our classroom.

I love being a teacher, and couldn't imagine myself doing anything else.  I will begin to update more and post lesson plans/finished products that our bright little ones have been working on.

In the meantime, here is a Pinterest creation my CT (cooperating teacher) and I made.  We are avid Pinterest followers, and we use the website AT LEAST twice a week in our lesson plans or presentations for our students.

Our classroom theme is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to expose students to letters constantly.

It is made from an old lamp, pool noodle, brown felt, an umbrella, and multiple shades of green felt and tulle cut to form coconut tree leaves.  We then put velcro on the back of small foam letters, and ask students to spell sight words, spell their name, put the letters in ABC order, spell made-up words, or even try to spell their friends' names.  The kids love it!

Until next time, readers....  Be safe if you are in the affected areas of Hurricane Sandy.

Oh, PS- I passed all three of my tests for licensure with ease.  They were difficult, mind you, but you should be able to pass if you actually care about the career you are about to embark on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Praxis II: Elementary Content Knowledge

I took the Praxis II (Elementary Content Knowledge) at Prometric Testing Center yesterday.  Friends, if you live in the Roanoke area, it's worth a trip else where to take your test.  These people are just so rude and ridiculous.  I still can't get over the fact that if you go in with a sweatshirt, your have to keep it on, even if you get hot.  At Pearson you could basically do whatever you needed to do.  They trust you and make you feel like a trust-worthy adult rather than a child that writes answers on your arms (at Prometric).  

Anywho, I was nervous going into the test because people told me that it was common sense stuff, and then I took a practice test and had basically forgotten everything I learned in school.  It's basically a review of everything you learned in math, reading, science, and social studies.  That's a lot of information to recall.  I used a review book to study, but it had so many typos and I don't think I'd recommend it.  It did help me recall information, however, so using a book is worth the money, I just won't recommend the one I used.  Cliff Notes makes a review book, and several other books are available.  Just visit your local Books a Million or Barnes and Noble to find one. 

The test wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I passed!  The computer instantly gives you your "raw scores" and lets you know how many questions you got right from each section.  

So now I can breathe a sigh of relief.  I have basically finished my requirements for licensure! (except for those pesky classes that are a breeze compared to the pressure-inducing licensure tests)  I am just waiting for my RVE scores now, but I think that they will be to my satisfaction.  

Until next time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

VCLA Grades

Got an email tonight telling me that my VCLA grade will be posted tomorrow between 5 and 10 PM, and they will send me an email with the grades as well.  That was super fast!

Stay tuned for the results!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

RVE (Reading for Virginia Educators)

Well friends... Today I took the RVE at Prometric Testing Center on Electric Road in Roanoke.  To begin with, I had to schedule the time at 9 AM, less than ideal.  Soooo I left home at 7:15 to make sure I had enough time to get there since its through a thousand stoplights and in the middle of no where.  Then I get there, and the people are less than stellar.  You have to write a paragraph in cursive, which, my friends, I have not done since third grade.  So that took me about 15 mins (along with everyone else there!).

When you're ready to go in, you stand on an X so that they can video tape you.  Then, they wand you to make sure you didn't leave any jewelry or keys or anything on!  Next, they ask you to pull up your sleeves to make sure you didn't write notes on your arms.  How tacky.  Then you go in and sign ANOTHER piece of paper, and they take your ID.  I had a sweatshirt on today, and when I walked into the room she told me not to take it off.  I mean, what if I got super hot and felt queasy and needed to take it off?!?!  Ughhhhh  Oh and the headphones there?  They pinched my tiny head so much that I had to take them off and put them back on and take them off and put them back on and take them off and... you get the picture.

And the test.... two and a half hours of pure torture.  I studied my butt off for this test, and there were things on the test that I had never even heard of.  Either Mary Baldwin doesn't prepare you for the test (I don't think that's it because many of my classmates have passed), or I got the most difficult test available that day.  It was insane.

So lesson to be learned: STUDY YOUR BUTT OFF FOR THIS TEST!  It is not to be taken lightly!  I downloaded the text provided by the Praxis website, printed it off, and studied it like crazy.  I also studied my class notes and the textbooks for my Language Arts and Content Area classes.  Finally, I took the practice test and did pretty well on it.  The test this morning, however, did not go so well.  Here's hoping I passed!!  And good luck to all of you who are working up to taking this test! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I wanted to add a new update about the VCLA (Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment).

I took it on Tuesday, April 17th at 12 pm at Pearson Professional Center on Williamson Road in Roanoke.  The center was so easy to get to, friendly, and the time was perfect for me being that I am not an early morning test-taking type.  I took the test on the computer, both the reading and writing sections, and it took me three out of four hours to complete.  Be prepared- you cannot take ANYTHING into the room with you- even watches and/or bracelets come off so that you don't make any sound.  They did not ask me to take off any other jewelry, though.  They provided a dry-erase notebook incase you preferred to write anything down.  Ear muffs were also offered to block out any sound-- these were very helpful being that a lady in my room whisper-read everything to herself so I found myself easily distracted by the "ssspshsphpshs" of her reading.  FYI- I arrived 30 minutes early, as all sites require, and I was able to begin the test whenever I was ready because the person before me had finished early.  I, not being the one to wait, decided to start immediately.  You are also allowed bathroom breaks at this center, but your time continues to run if you need to do so.  They cannot stop the clock for you to take a break, but breaks are allowed.

While the test is essentially an english SAT, I found it extremely helpful to review before I took the test.  I bought the VCLA book (first edition) to study from.  I found it at Barnes and Noble, ISBN 978-160787108-8.  I also used the website to take practice tests and read about what was covered on the test.  This site is also where you register to take the test, if you are wondering.

For me, the test was relatively easy.  I had taken so many practice tests that I was not surprised by any question, and I felt slightly confident in my ability.  The main thing for all of these tests is simply to be prepared.  If you cannot really study, make sure you at least look at/read over sample tests so you know what is coming your way.  Pearson printed off my results immediately.  I know my reading score already because it was all multiple choice.  My writing tests had the multiple choice questions graded immediately, but now I have to wait on the constructed response scores.  I should receive them in the next few weeks.  

Next up-- the RVE! (Reading for Virginia Educators- the old VRA).  I'm taking it on Wednesday (4/25) at 9 AM (UGH!) at Prometric Test Center off Electric Road in the middle of nowhere Salem.  Not looking forward to this all-encompassing test, or the center- I have heard that it is less than stellar.  I will let you know how it goes!!

The Journey Begins...

I am a 25 year old preservice teacher.  I plan to finish my Master of Arts in Teaching in May, 2013.  I will have all of my licensure requirements met by December, 2012, and plan to teach in my own classroom in January, 2013. 

The Background Story:

As many teachers understand, it is vital that readers have background knowledge of the content before they dive into the information.  Thus, here is background info on me.

I graduated from King College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Bible & Religion and Youth Ministry.  In addition to this double major, I minored in Psychology with a desire to teach children somehow.  I realized my junior year that I truly wanted to be a teacher, but did not want to stay the necessary two years in college to earn the degree.  Thus, I came back home to Lexington and took a teaching position at a school for children with Autism.  Here I taught students from ages 3-16 in a one-on-one setting.  Along with my co-workers, I taught my students life skills as well as academic content for two years.  I decided to leave the school in August of 2011 to seek my Master of Arts in Teaching from Mary Baldwin College. 

I began the PBTL program (see the website for more info) but was told by my cooperating teachers that I should go ahead and work towards my masters rather than simply gaining licensure.  In January 2012 I began the Masters program and will go full time year round until I graduate in May 2013.

In the Fall of 2011 I began a 60 hour practicum with kindergarten at Central Elementary School under "Mrs. T".  Mrs. T (short for Teacher*) taught me so much about what it means to be an effective and caring teacher without burning out.  She encouraged me in all of my interactions with students, and I loved kindergarten!  The experience in her classroom taught me that I most certainly wanted to be a teacher, and Mrs. T told me she truly believed I would be excellent at it. 

In the Spring of 2012 I completed 2 forty hour practica, also at Central as I was working as an after school counselor in a program run by the local YMCA.  The first practicum was in fifth grade.  I was extremely nervous about the content knowledge required by fifth graders, and the attitudes of the older students towards themselves, others, and the subject matter.  I was placed in a science classroom, the subject I am least competent in!  I nervously stumbled through the 40 hours, and was so pleasantly surprised by the students' love of and respect towards one another, me, and their teacher.  I loved fifth grade, as well!  I was able to teach using dramatic activities and the students understood the connection between the activities and the lessons I was trying to teach.  I taught group lessons, conducted individual reading groups in which the students loved the book so much that they groaned when it was time to stop!, and even conducted the last school day primarily by myself as the teacher was unexpectedly absent and the substitute left early.  The fifth grade teacher also inspired me to teach in new and engaging ways to keep students interested in the material.  He, too, was confident in my ability to teach, further fueling my desire to attain my license.

Finally, my last practicum experience was in first grade.  Here I learned that first grade is centered around teaching reading.  Because reading is the foundation of the rest of all students' education, it is a high-pressured grade.  I love all of the content, but am fearful of the heavy weight placed on teaching students to read.  If they leave the grade NOT on grade level, it will begin to shape the rest of their educational years.  Nevertheless, I am still confident that teaching is the career for me!

* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of these influential persons