Thursday, November 20, 2014

Teaching Transitional Phrases + Youtube Video on Lesson

I've noticed that my students love to write, but they write in a chopped up manner. They have great ideas but cannot seem to make one sentence flow into the other. I thought one way I could help them with their writing was to teach a mini lesson on transitional phrases.

Thankfully, I was able to find this amazing list of transitional words and phrases from the University of Wisconsin.  I printed enough to give to each one of my students to keep in their English folders.

The video of me teaching the lesson is down below. I hope you like, and don't forget to subscribe the teaching youtube channel for more videos related to teaching!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaching Students to Be Kind

We had a disturbing incident on campus today, and it could have been a non-issue if we were teaching students to be kind. One of the students that was constantly been teased by other students was finally tipped over the edge, and he started throwing chairs across the room.  There were even threats of owning a gun and shooting up the place. It was truly a devastating day for a lot of people, and I believe that things like that occur in our classrooms because kindness is not being emphasized.

Teachers are constantly pressured to teach students to pass the CAHSEE, CELDT, Star, CST-4, and many other types of tests, and sometimes we overlook the fact that we are teaching real people with real issues. Where did the character development go?  Do we have to create national standards on teaching kindness before these things are taken seriously?

Well, I was able to compile a few different strategies and resources teachers can use to get this movement going forward. Enjoy and please let me know if you've tried anything below and love. :)

Set up opportunities for students to work with one another, and they don't get to choose their own partners/groups. 

Here is what did. 

Play community building activities like this for the first 2-3 weeks and once a month after that. Click here if you want a list of activities.

Have students do assignments like this with their name kept out. Then have the students read each one and figure who belongs to who.

Force, yes force, students to do one act of kindness a week and record it. Sooner or later, these kids will realize the joy of bringing a smile to someone else's face {Dear God please let that happen}.  The "Mission Possible" is from

Teachers need to model kindness. Good luck teaching if the students find you to be the rudest, meanest teacher possible. If you're not sure if you are one of those teachers, please watch the video down below. :) Most likely if you are reading this, then you are so incredibly sweet and looking to become the best teacher you can be. <3

If you have any other strategies of ending this "meanness" and creating a kind environment, then please comment down below and let me know. I would love to hear from you. :)  Also, please don't forget to check out my wonderful, kind, lovely, smart, and compassionate colleague's blog.  Click here to check out her blog. She teaches English Language Development, and it's her first year teaching. :)

To being kind and teaching students to be kind!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

First Giveaway!

Hey everybody! I'm having my very first giveaway!!!!!

To enter, you must subscribe to my YouTube channel and Instagram page. 

Instagram: reflectingmrsliana 

Here is a vlog from my channel, and please leave me a message telling me how your first year teaching was/is.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teacher Thoughts Video

If you are a teacher, then you know that teachers go through many emotions about teaching. Although most of them are very pleasant and non-threatening, some feelings about teaching can be volatile. If you are a teacher that says that you are always happy, every second of the day while you are teaching, then you're a liar.

Here is a video I created with my fellow teachers.

We are imperfect human beings, and we work with imperfect little human beings. We love each other, but we also annoy one another.  But, that is not the root of the problem of most teachers' lives. 
We have a million things to worry about, such as common core standards, IEPS, classroom observations, parent-teacher conferences, and many more. The following cartoons are perfect examples of this: 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

First Year Teacher Blues

You run into class late, apologize to the students for being tardy in a hurried manner, and go straight into a lesson. Everyone starts off by looking at you and paying close attention. Slowly, you see students dozing off, writing in their journals, whispering with their friends, and these are just a couple of the signs that show you that the class in not engaged during the lesson.

You're a good teacher, and you can read your students easily. They need a change of pace, so you quickly tell them what to do for the independent practice part of the lesson. 

Your shoulders feel a little bit lighter when the students divert their attention to the independent practice, but you still can't help to think that something is not going right. The students don't look happy. Some are  chatting by the computers, and others do not even have the independent practice handout in front of them. 

You are a good teacher so you reflect upon the student behavior. Why aren't they engaged? Did something happen during lunchtime? Was the work too complex? 

These questions aren't the only questions going through your head. You're also thinking about when you are going to fill out the monthly class report, check student IEPs, make copies, plan for next weeks lesson plans, prepare the weekly newsletter, and email the parents about student highlights/concerns.

Then you start thinking that maybe you're not a good teacher and you're not cut out to be like that inspirational teacher that you idolized from Freedom Writers. 
Suddenly, you look you can connect with these memes, and that depresses you most of all. 

Well, I am here to say that it gets a whole lot better after your first year teaching blues. The following image shows the progression of a first year teacher's well being.

It's October now, and you are probably in survival mode now. Right before the Winter break, you will most likely have dreams of going to break and never going back to teacher again. Luckily, something magical happens during Winter break, and you feel rejuvenated. It might be all the sleep, food, and unliminites amount of bathroom breaks you are getting. 

It only gets better after that, and the summer in between 1st and 2nd year of teaching is probably the best. 

So, I am writing this to give you some sliver of hope and encouragement that it will get better. 😋

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Teachers Must Respect Their Students Part 2

Hi everybody! I went along and made a video that goes well with the post I had written about teachers respecting students.  This video is down below, and please hit like or subscribe if you would like to see more. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Social Justice Education: Intro (Part 1)

A teacher does not become a good teacher as soon as they walk into the classroom on 
their first day. Before they walk into the classroom, post their fresh and sparkly bulletin boards, or 
create their first pristine rubric for a writing assignment, these teachers have grandeur ideas of what it means to be a teacher.  Sometimes these ideas might not be in sync with reality.  But most of the time they are commendable and worth taking risks for.  

Here is the infamous, but oh so true, teacher meme.

Teacher reality?

These teachers wishes and desires stem from the research geared toward social justice in the classroom and vary from teaching tolerance to a multiethnic, religious, socio economic class to offering equal access to a great education for those that might not be offered one.  

Now, it is important to note that I am one of these teachers. I knew that I wanted to be a conduit of social justice. This means that as a teacher, I would be forced to teach students with varying backgrounds, and my responsibility is to teach for diversity. In addition, I want to foster a sense of responsibility to others’ suffering. As a social justice worker, I would have to make sure that I have high expectations of all my students, and that I provided the adequate scaffolds for each of them. The following images provide ways of how I scaffold for my students:

Using Sdaie strategies for my wonderful ELs

Practicing speeches before the real deal

Even understanding my students and how they learn best

It is important to note that I have changed my way of thinking. This was how I thought back then.  I am writing all of this, because it is something that I have thought about very often. I have discussed it with colleagues, administrators, and even students, but I never really understood what that all meant until I stepped foot into one of my graduate courses with Professor Brian Gibbs.  

That class has truly changed the way I view the teacher’s role, student’s role, and education in general, and it started with the following three articles, “Rigor: We Need a New Definition of Rigor” (Gibbs, 2014), “The History All Around Us: Roosevelt High School and the 1969 Eastside Blowout” (Gibbs, 2014), and “The Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott Revisited” (Kohl, 2005).   Each article was chosen for specific reasons, but the one thing that they all have in common is that I was absolutely shocked at what I learned from the text. 

All three articles changed how I saw my role as an educator, and it flipped my ideas of what social justice teaching is. In the next series of posts, I will discussing my ideas of what true social justice education looks like. Until next time! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Truth About Fractions

Fractions are one of the hardest things for students from 2nd to 12th grade to understand.  It is even hard for many adults to grasp fraction concepts. What makes them so hard? How are we teaching these mathematical concepts that make it so difficult for students to comprehend?

Well, after taking a misrepresentations of mathematics course at my graduate school, my eyes were opened by one of my wonderful professors, Rachel Levy. She informed us that one of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is using circles when teaching about fractions.

Every since I was in school, I remember fractions being represented in circles. Sometimes they would be in the form of a pizza, and sometimes it would be in a cookie. I rarely remember it being represented in any other shapes.

It is nice when the circles are drawn on the computer and electronically, but what happens when a student is working on a fraction problem during a test? The lines will not be as clear as the ones drawn by the computer.  This is what it will most likely look like.

This student was able to fill in the circle to make it equivalent to the fraction, but what happens when the student has to add, multiply, subtract, and even divide fractions? Those fractions will not be as simple as 1/2 and 2/6.  It will also be more difficulty dividing those representations than it would a rectangle.

I propose rectangles because they are a quick, easy, and an accurate way of depicting fractions. It will especially be easier when multiplying, dividing, subtracting, and adding fractions.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Respect Your Students

Respect is a big word in our classrooms. The students are supposed to respect one another, their teachers, and the physical environment. Great teachers spend 2 weeks to 2 months in the beginning of the school year teaching what respect is and what it looks like. A lot of time and effort is spent on teaching students, but sometimes the element that is missing from our classrooms is the respect teachers have for their students.

Now, don't get me wrong! Teachers are wonderful, and  do truly want to be respectful to our students, but sometimes we are disrespectful without even wanting to be. It is completely understandable that students and teachers may not see eye to eye, because we are all built differently. We think differently and act differently because we have all gone through unique experiences that have shaped us to be the people we are today.   Because of these different experiences, teachers may not share the definition of respect the same way the students do.

For this entry, my goal was to create a list of must-do things for teachers to do to make sure that we are respecting our students.

Doing this, is one of the no-nos.
Also not a nice thing to say
Attack the un-desired behavior, not the student. 

1. Ask your students what disrespect looks like. 

2. Forgive your students when they make mistakes. 

3. Leave the sarcasm behind. 

4. The rules of the classroom should only be there to create a safe, learning environment. 

5. The teacher should make an effort to build a relationship with every single student in the class. 

6. Smile, Smile, Smile 

7. Extend your please and thank- yous to the students, and they will follow your lead. 

8. If the students cannot eat/drink/use a cell phone, then you also shouldn't be doing that. 

9. Apologize when you have made a mistake, and thank the students for remaining patient during certain times. 

10. Be flexible. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sneek Peek into my High School Classroom (year 2)

Hey everybody! I wanted to share a little clip of one of my classrooms. It's on my Youtube page, and the video is down below. :)

This lesson was a review for the vocabulary on the cahsee, and that list consisted of literacy terms. I found a list from this website. I handed the list out to my students, and split them up into  groups of 2-3. Each group was also given about 4 terms to make a poster for. The groups/students would then present those terms to the rest of the class. Once the presentations were complete, the students answered questions about those terms on a check for understanding handout.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Top 10 Best Teacher Websites

I love to plan when I am right in front of the computer.  I feel like there are 10 or so websites I am constantly visiting when I plan.  They make life so much easier for me, and I wanted to share them with you all. The following ten websites are not in any order, and I love them all equally.

1. Teachers Pay Teachers This is the best website to check out if you are planning your lessons. It has 'Pay' in the name, but you can get a million or more resources for free if you do not want to pay.  There are lessons for Preschool-College. Trust me, you will find whatever you are looking for there.

2. Teaching Tolerance This is a wonderful website for teachers that are aimed to teach for social justice and tolerance. There are a million resources on this site, and their newsletters are also super fun! They even have film kits that you can get for free if you are a teacher.  On top of all of that, they offer free professional development webinars!

Enjoy this trailer from their youtube.

3.  Youtube Need I say anything else? Amazing websites for professional development, videos to show students, and everything else in between. Don't forget to check out my Youtube Channel!

4. Common Curriculum This is an online lesson planner. It is completely customizable, and they creators of this website made it so easy to share lessons/units with colleagues. It is especially wonderful for teachers that are mandated to turn lesson plans into principals. It is very user-friendly, and the flexibility of it makes it wonderful.

Here is a screen shot of one of my units.

5. Engrade This is an online grade book. I love this because I can access it on my ipad. They don't have an app yet, but it is so extremely simple that it works great with the web browser. If I could describe this website in three words it would be: simple, easy, and fast.

6. Discovery Education Discovery Ed is completely free, and totally resourceful. They have lesson plans for K-12, for all subjects. I was suprrised to find that Discovery Ed was not only science, but social studies, English, math, technology, and even health. They also have educational videos that students can watch and learn from. Check it out!

7. Teaching Channel This is a great website where teachers post videos of them teaching in the classroom. It's a great place to get ideas and inspiration.  I see some of the most amazing teachers on this channel.  In addition to searching and finding lessons that might come in handy, you can also create a lesson planner inside the website where you save certain videos to come back to them next.

8. Edutopia This website is very similar teaching channel but it focuses on the academic educations conversations. I always learn a lot of what's new and hot in the educational world by checking this website out. It's not the best immediate planning help, but it definitely helps for the long run.

9. Read Write Think This website focuses on student literacy, but the best thing about this website is the free professional development webinars. You can never watch too many of these. They also have lessons and even handouts.

10. Pinterest I love the visuals on Pinterest.  I can search something I am looking to teach in, and all I see are visuals. They are so easy to look through. I also love that I can make boards for the different months and themes. When I was teaching first grade, I taught in themes. Each month there was a new theme/units, so anything I saw related to those themes/units, I placed into those boards. Please take my word for it and check Pinterest out, if you haven't already.

Which one of these is your favorite? Also, if you have any other favorites please leave the website in the comments section. I would love to hear from you all.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Teach Like a Champion Book Review by Doug Lemov

What's up teachers!

This weekend I was able to add to my youtube channel, and for my official first video, I did a teacher book review on Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. It has been one of my go to books for a few years, and I suggest all the teachers out there to read it. Click below for the youtube review, and I do plan on creating another video with my top 10 favorites from the book. :) Love you all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Youtube Channel

So if you have not already noticed, I absolutely love talking about teaching and my students. One of the problems I face is talking to individuals about what I'm passionate (teaching) and realize that they are bored out of their minds!!! I kept thinking about how I could possibly be a better teacher if I don't talk about what I do, or even collaborate with others on my staff. Well, one glorious morning while I was watching a makeup tutorial on Youtube and applying my makeup, I had a light bulb erupt in my head. I would create my own Youtube channel and talk as much as I can about teacher, and no one can say anything about it!

Sooooooo, guess what I did. No kids, no husband (yet), family so far away, I decided that I had enough time on my hands to blog, teach, and create a Youtube account. How hard could it be right?! :P

I was wayy over my head, but since one of the things I teach my students to do is persevere, that it exactly what I did. I cleaned my room, set up the filming space, did my research on good lighting, did my makeup, and eventually filmed the first "about me" video.  I was so nervous and flustered, but that was not even the worst part. I learned the hard way that I needed to know how to edit. So, because I am so impatient and I wanted to get the video done asap, I pseudo edited and posted. Boy, it can only go up from here, let me tell you.

Well, if you want to see that video and subscribe to the channel, please click here! :)

The video is right here! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Job, New City!

I'm back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

It has been waaaay too long and so much to update on. I've got a couple of shockers, and I'm just going to get into it. .....

I'm a high school multiple subjects teacher in San Diego now!!!!!! I know, totally different from what I've been doing before, but I am exactly where I'm supposed to be. :) Words cannot describe how happy I am to be at the school I'm at currently, but I'm going to try anyways. 

I've always wanted to be a teacher to those that have been profiled their whole lives, especially in school. I knew that I could teach those students by challenging them and allowing them go above and beyond what others expect of them. Thankfully, I've chosen to work in an environment where I am working with those exact type of students. 

I know I will come across a different set of issues from what I experienced while teaching elementary schools, so I will make sure to keep you all updated. Much love!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Adjective Hats

Here is an activity that worked really great. We finished our adjective unit so this was the finishing activity.

All you need are long pieces of paper, markers, and a stapler.  I got board papers from the 99 cent store and cut them in 3 pieces. 

I asked the kiddos to write down five adjectives that described them, but all of them did more than that! 

When they were done, I just checked them and stapled te hat around their head. They loved wearing them around school.