I had a long list of blog posts that I wanted to get caught up on this long weekend. But as I sit surrounded by family and great food, I feel such gratitude. So, while I am of course thankful for my family and friends and all they do, I thought I'd list out some things I'm thankful for professionally.
• My third grade teacher, Mrs. Orzechowski. One of the most unforgettable teachers I have ever had. Even 30 years later, I still remember the humor and way she infused hands-on learning into her instruction. I’ll never forget how we built almost life-size cardboard dinosaur skeletons by scaling them up from those small wooden models!
• Robin Levy, my first supervisor when I worked as a counselor at Harbor Hills Day Camp. She really was my first inspiration for teaching. She taught me so much about being proactive, about genuinely caring for and being with children, and making sure that each one is noticed and recognized for what they do well.
• Penn State College of Communications and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. While I didn’t exactly enter the field that I got my college degree in, I did gain a great amount of technical knowledge at Penn State that I have been able to utilize in my teaching career. That career was given a great start from some exceptional professors at Rutgers. I am especially thankful for my mentor, Lesley Mandel Morrow, who really took me under her wing and exposed me to some of the literacy concepts that I still incorporate today.
• Conover Road School, where I taught third grade for the first two years of my career. To be honest, I wasn’t very successful in my first two years, and I was eventually not rehired. I am thankful for this time because it formed a mindset for me that I didn’t know everything, and that I could always improve my practice. Fourteen years later, I am still always working to get better.
• My colleagues, both at Community Park and online at #5thchat. I tell everyone that I have learned more in a year of #5thchats than in I am especially thankful for my grade-level colleagues, who I am constantly picking up ideas from and learning from.
• Finally, the administration, both at my school and in my district. In this age of school reform and obsession with test scores, they remain committed to supporting innovation and experimentation in the classroom. I feel very fortunate to have an administration that I know supports my efforts, and also tries to provide me as much as they can with the training and equipment necessary to achieve my goals.
I am thankful for so much in my life, both professionally and personally. What are you thankful for?
Today marked an important milestone in the class's Genius Hour journeys! Each student delivered an "elevator pitch" to introduce their topic to the class...and now to the world!
What is an elevator pitch? The students only get 30 seconds or so to introduce their topic, and "sell" us on it! The name comes from the idea that someone would only have the time it takes for an elevator to go from the lobby to the top floor to sell an investor on an idea. Being concise, enthusiastic, and clear are definite musts!
The students took turns by random draw delivering their pitches, while the rest of the class gave feedback. I adapted myfeedback rubric from one that I found on Joy Kirr's amazing LiveBinder (you can find a lot of other great Genius Hour resources there as well!).
Here are my students' first attempts at elevator pitches as a YouTube playlist. For many of these students, it's the first time presenting anything like this in front of a camera. I welcome your comments and suggestions...what else can I do to prepare my students to pitch their projects? Additionally, the students will be posting their individual pitches on their blogfolios. I encourage you to visit them as well!
5th grade teacher in Princeton, NJ. Passionate about education, technology, and the New York Giants!