Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my adventures in elementary education

Happy New Year! The Impact of Mindset on Goals

January4

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New Years is a time when many people reflect back on the past year and analyze their choices in life and begin to think about how to make the next year better.  I usually set goals for myself rather than resolutions.  Resolutions are defined as the answer to a problem.  I think we can all admit that there are problems in our lives we’d like the answers to, but just making a resolution is not the answer.  I’ve made what I thought were resolutions in the past (to go to the gym more, to eat healthier, to not procrastinate on assignments, to get the laundry done quicker, etc).  These are not answers to a problem though.  Technically they are goals I’d like to achieve.  I’d like to go to the gym more and in order to do that, I will have to take steps to make it happen such as schedule time, arrange childcare, and pack my gym supplies.  I’d like to eat healthier and in order to do that I will need to shop with purpose for healthier ingredients, prepare food at home instead of getting take out, and skip out on some of those not so healthy snacks.  

This week, we will be spending some time learning about setting goals for ourselves.  We will work to set goals for both school and home.  We will think about the steps we will need to take to ensure that we can follow through on these goals and be successful.  While we are doing this we will also examine a theory in a book that I read last year, Mindset.  In this book the author, Carol Dweck, identifies 2 different ways of thinking, or mindsets.

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 The first is a fixed mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are who they are, can do what they can do, and think the way the think because they are born that way.  For example if you always struggled with math that is because you were born with a limited knowledge of math and once you hit that point you couldn’t learn any more.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are the way they are and that is that.  They will continue to prove that they are what they believe until they experience a failure.  For example, if you always believed you were the fastest person and then you were beat by someone else you would be crushed.  Your beliefs were ruined!  You would start to feel horrible about yourself.  This mindset is not wrong- but it can be detrimental to learning.  If you immediately think that you are a failure because you fail one test think of how that can impact your willingness to learn more or different ways in the future!

The Second mindset is the growth mindset.  In this mindset, people believe that they can be and do anything that they want.  It may not be easy.  They may not be able to do it right off the bat.  It may require failing a few times before getting it, but with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to try new and different ways to achieve their goal they will eventually get it.  I have been working very hard to develop my growth mindset.  

Let me give you an example from my life.  Many years ago, I had a teacher that told me I was not good at math.  I would never be able to be good at math because I just couldn’t get it.  I started to really believe this about myself.  I thought I was dumb.  She was right, I would never get it.  This impacted my career choices.  I had hoped to be an engineer like my grandfather.  If I wasn’t any good at math though, I could never do that.  I believed this until I was an adult.  I did very well in college math classes and could do all the math I needed in real life with no problem, but I still thought of myself as a failure.  When I was hired as a teacher in Millville, I was hired to teach 7th grade math- this was a nightmare for me!  How could I teach kids if I was a failure?!  Fortunately, I was working with an amazing team of math teachers at Lakeside.  They helped me to see that there are many ways to teach concepts and that not every student gets it the first time around.  Through teaching and working hard to ensure that all of my students were given the tools and strategies they needed to be successful in math class, I changed my mindset from fixed to growth.  I watched kids struggle but not give up and cheered with them when they finally got it.  If these kids could try and try and try until they were successful, then so could I.  I decided I would never limit or label myself as one thing again.  Now I look forward to someone telling me I can’t do something so that I can prove them wrong!  I never thought I’d achieve my master’s degree (neither did some other people) but I did.  I never thought I’d be getting certified to be a principal, yet by July I will be.  Next up on my challenge list- earning my doctorate degree.  I’m not a person who is going to be limited by others opinions of myself or limitations I used to believe about myself anymore.  MINDSETS CAN BE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We will be learning about the mindsets in class this week as we set goals for ourselves for this year.  We will be signing a contract as a class to promise to aim for growth and not become fixed in any one area.  The TEDX video below explains the powerful impact of mindsets on our lives.  It is a little long, but very much worth it!

So, will you join us and grow?

Holiday Lunch Party Information

December17
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PARCC Prep

December10

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This morning my students were visited by Mrs. Mackall and Mrs. Daigle, two of our districts technology instructors, to introduce our class to NJ’s new assessment system the PARCC.

What is the PARCC?

Each year students are given a standardized test in 4th grade.  Prior to this year, the tests were called the NJASK and students took them using pencil and paper.  The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), however, will be taken strictly online.  Students will read passages, answer math problems, and write essays all on the computer.  This is more than a little intimidating.  To help students prepare, they were introduced to the different types of questions and buttons that they will see when they take the assessment in the spring.

What types of questions will they see?

Multiple choice- students will see questions that have multiply choices.  Students who are used to being able to cross off wrong answer choices will still be able to use this strategy.   They will be able to eliminate answers that they know are incorrect using the answer eliminator button on the test screen.  They will then click on the circle of the correct answer to fill it in. (Just like we do each week on our comprehension tests already)

Drag and Drop Questions- for these test questions, students students will select information from one area and slide it into the answer area.  While our weekly tests do not use these types of questions, they are exposed to this through instructional games and websites that we use.

Short Response Questions- for these test questions, students will need to type in responses.  There will be short response questions in both math and language arts test areas.   Students do type essays in class now, but they will definitely need to work on this skill in the coming months.  Students need to remember not to bold, underline, or highlight the text.  This will result in the answer being scored incorrectly.  There is no spell check on PARCC.  Also, NO TEXT TYPING!  Spell out the words!  (no lol, u, r, brb).  For the math short response questions, students will be given a set of icons to click on to show division symbols and whatnot.

Multiple Answer Questions- Some questions require students to select more than one correct answer.  (For example:  Select two of the details from the article from those below.)  Students must click on more than one correct choice for these questions.  These questions do look slightly different.  They have square answer choices instead of circle answer choices.  Students MUST follow the directions and select the number they are asked to find.

Drop Down Menu Questions- students will select the correct answer from choices in a drop down menu.

Shade in the Area Questions- students will select the areas to be shaded and the box or shape will change color

What tools will they be given to use?

In the math section there will be online rulers, protractors, and calculators that students can use in designated sections.

Students are also given scrap paper in both sections of the test- to plan out work in language arts and to use as scrap paper in the math sections.

At the end of each section, students are encouraged to click the review button to ensure that they have completed all of the questions in that section.  Once they hit the submit button, they will not be able to go back to make any changes.  As students take the test, they can also “flag” questions that they would like to remember to go back to and finish later.  These flagged questions will also appear in the review section.

Students will not be able to open other websites or tools on the computer as they take the test.  If they do they will be kicked out of the test site.  This would not be good!!!!!!

How am I preparing your child in class?

Thankfully, our text books offer an online test option for both math and language arts tests.  While this will help familiarize the kids with reading texts and questions online as well as answering the multiple choice questions, it does not help with the other questions types.  To help prepare my students in class we will be utilizing practice tests and games to help us practice answering the other questions types.  We also type frequently in class.  All of our essays are typed before they are submitted for a final grade.  We will be increasing our typing opportunities through the use of some typing websites.  Our social studies  tests do require some on line short response questions to help them prepare as well.

How can YOU help prepare your child?

Visit the district PARCC informational website and review the material with your child at www.parccmillville.weebly.com as well as visit the new PARCC resources page on our blog.

Offer your child the opportunity to log in to custom typing at home to practice typing skills.   They can also practice typing on your tablet or computer for fun.  They can even type homework if they want!  Encourage your child to text you in complete words so that they get out of the “text talk” habit.  Call me if you have questions!

This is new for all of us.  I got a TON of useful information from today’s session.  The website above gives games that will help students prepare as well as sample test questions for both you and your child to review.

Long Division’s Coming to Town and Our Weekly Learning Objectives 12/8-12/12

December7

This week we are going to spend time with long division.  In honor of this learning goal, I wrote a Christmas Carol about it and recorded it using Powtoons.  Fortunately for you, my vocals did not come through!  Sing along to the tune of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town!”

In addition to long division this week we will also be working with determining the main idea in informational texts.

Our vocabulary words are:

Vain

Responsibility

Solemnly

politics

Humble

Howling

Constitution

In science we will be continuing our study of magnets. Check out the video below to review the basic magnetic concepts we will be covering.

 

Making RM Bacon a Bully-Free Zone

December3

bully free zone

 

Bullying is a hot topic issue in education.  Students learn best when they are in an environment in which they feel safe.  You can not feel safe if you are being bullied.  Therefore, it is a very high priority at RM Bacon Elementary School that we stop bullying in its tracks.

All staff members have been trained in how to spot, report, and respond to bullying when we see it.  The problem is bullies can be tricky and we don’t always see the behaviors.  Students also need to be trained so that they have the confidence to stand up for others and report what they are seeing.  We take bullying VERY seriously.  When bullying is reported it is investigated by our HIB (harassment, intimidation, and bullying) team.  This team consists of our guidance counselor, security guard, PBIS (positive behavior in schools) aide, and our principal.  Often the investigation ends with a positive outcome.  If the investigation proves that bullying exists, a plan of action is put into place including counseling, monitoring, and support for both the victim and bully.

We will be working with the CAP (Child Abuse Prevention) Team this Friday and next Monday to learn about bullying.  Students will learn about how to use their words wisely so as to not hurt others. They will also learn about different strategies to use when they feel that they are being treated unfairly.

How can you help?  Today bullying doesn’t only occur face to face.  Cyber bullying is a huge issue.  Please be aware of what your child is doing online or on their phones.  Texting mean messages has the same effect as saying them out loud.  Monitor your child’s internet usage.  Ask for passwords and usernames to keep tabs.  If they are on social media, insist on them including you as a “friend” or “follower.”  Below is a video defining cyber bullying and how you can help your child if they find themselves in this situation:

Here is a short music video that shows how bullying can impact a child and how having others stand up and speak out can change the direction of the bullying and give the child the confidence and support they need to stand up to the bully in an appropriate way. REMEMBER, BULLYING BACK IS NOT THE ANSWER!

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Class to Yours

November26

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Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday!  There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating.  It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have.  Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic.  This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude.  We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others.  Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for.  Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.

I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students.  I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day.  I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become.  I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you.  This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences.  Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day.  It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Love,

Mrs. Sinone and family

Celebration of Reading

November21

This week we finished our first novel study for the year, The Chocolate Touch. As a culminating event, students presented projects they created based on our book study and we celebrated reading by partaking in a chocolate covered fruit party (since we are participating in the Healthy Schools initiative we did our best to keep it healthy)! Below are some pictures of our projects as well as our celebration.

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For our next novels, we will be breaking into literature circles (book clubs) and reading books selected at the students reading level to provide more of a challenge. We will be starting this in January.

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Veteran’s Day Project Plans and Weekly Objectives November 10-14

November9

I can very honestly say that I can’t wait to return to work with my kiddos tomorrow and get away from the germs that plagued my home THE ENTIRE LONG WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!  At last count 4 out of 5 people in my home have been sick in the last week with a very unfun virus that left us stranded on the couch vegging out and watching movies.  Hopefully the return to routine will mean the return to health for me and my poor kids!

Last week we had a very short, very productive week.  We learned about the election process, became “registered voters” and elected a class president in a mock election.  Take a peek at what the kids learned as they reflected on the lesson below:

elections

 

This week we will continue on our project filled November by learning about Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day.  Students will be taking a virtual field trip to the Tower of London in England on Monday as they celebrate its 100th anniversary.  We will be analyzing memorials from our country as well as England, poetry, and non fiction text to learn more about why people create memorials.  We will be taking a second virtual field trip on Tuesday to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C.   After we explore the different memorials and compare their symbols, students will work cooperatively in groups to create their own memorial for our veterans.  Stay tuned for pictures next week of our hallway display.  Links to the twp virtual trips are below.  The first is offered through Discovery Education UK and the second is a video I shot on a trip to D.C. with my daughter, Madison, a few years ago.

Discovery Education Website

Mrs. Sinone’s Veterans Day short video:

We will also be participating in World Run Day on Tuesday afternoon.  Be sure to wear your sneakers!

world run day

 

Math:

This week we will be completing our 1st marking period benchmark assessment on Monday.  Later this week we will be working on using arrays and expanded algorithms (ways) to multiply 2 digit numbers.  See below for some video resources to help you at home.  This is a new way to do this and it is easier to help your child if you “see” it.

Please check out our Important Dates Page as this month is PACKED with important dates to remember.  I will be sending home conference reminder sheets on Monday of this week.   I will be out of the building on Wednesday as I work with the principals at the Senior High and Lakeside to gain some experience and interview them for my NJEXCEL principal program.  As always, I know my class will be in good hands with one of our substitutes.

How to Make a Short Week Meaningful

November3

It’s that month again- November… you know the one where we never seem to have a full week of school and even when we do everyone is sick thanks to the change of the weather!  While there are many days off during November, there are also many valuable teaching opportunities- especially in the area of Social Studies.   So how can we make the most of our shortened time together?  PROJECTS!!!!!!!!  It’s time to shake it up and bring on the projects!  Kids love them, teachers love them, and they lend themselves wonderfully to the stop/start nature of school days in this month!  Below are a few of the projects that we will be completing this month:

vote

First Week of November:  Election Day Project

This week we will be exploring the origins of Election Day, political parties, the voting process, and conducting our own mock election.  The video below explains why we vote on Tuesdays (a question I have often wondered myself as it seems like an odd choice for an election day!).  We will be working through the election process this week and voting for a mock candidate for class president.  Students will listen to campaign speeches from our two mock candidates, vote at the polls, and justify their choices.  They will also be making their own voter registration cards.

*Parents- if you go out to vote on Tuesday after school, take your kids with you and share the process!

Second Week of November:

During the second (and one of the only full weeks of school) of November, we will be researching the origins of Veteran’s Day.  Students will take a virtual field trip to see the many memorials dedicated to our fallen soldiers in our nation’s capital (see the video I created below).  They will then work in teams to design a memorial to honor our local veterans.

Third and Fourth week of November:

During the final full week and our last short week of November, we will be walking in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  We will be researching, comparing and contrasting the Thanksgiving feast we enjoy today with the one that those first settlers enjoyed.  Students will work in pairs to create a menu for today’s feast and a menu from the first Thanksgiving feast using various websites like the one below.  We will make a staple of the pilgrims diet- hardtack (yum) to enjoy in class together.

Scholastic’s First Thanksgiving Website

National Geographic’s First Thanksgiving Website

History Channel’s First Thanksgiving Website

This month I am thankful that I get to share these meaningful, cross-curricular lessons with my class!  I will be combining first and second hand accounts as well as multimedia to enhance my student’s learning experiences.  We will be creating, writing, debating, and collaboratively working to produce meaningful and memorable products.  Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labor in upcoming posts!

Happy Halloween!

October31

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We got into the Halloween spirit today with some spookily (May have just made up word) yummy snacks and our annual costume parade. Below is the recipes for our ghoulish treats:

Pumpkin Smoothies:
Milk
Canned pumpkin
Banana (or plain yogurt either work well)
Honey
All spice
Blend all ingredients until smooth

Halloween Parfaits:
Vanilla yogurt layered with canned pineapple chunks and canned mandarin oranges

Banana Spiders
Banana chunks with pretzel sticks as legs

Remember to be safe for those if you trick or treating tonight! Wear bright colors or take flashlights and don’t eat candy until your parents check it!!!!!!

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Welcome to our class. Please feel free to visit often as we update weekly with learning goals, helpful videos and tutorials to review at home, and celebrations of our learning.

Carrie Sinone

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