A New School Year

With the new year comes a new blog theme and a resolution to post more frequently! I am constantly thinking about education and how I can best meet my students’ needs, I just need to blog about it more often!

With just a few days of holidays left, I have been thinking about school quite a bit and considering what the year ahead will bring. While this post is not focussing on literacy education, I thought it was worthwhile to briefly share what I’ll be doing in 2012…

What am I doing this year?

As you may know, I teach at Leopold Primary School, in Victoria, Australia. I am teaching Grade Four this year. Having only taught Prep, Grade One and Grade two in my career to date, I am looking forward to the challenge. I will again be team teaching with Kathleen Morris and it is great we have been given the opportunity to continue the partnership.

I have 26 students this year and I have taught a number of them in previous years. It will be terrific to continue the learning journey with these kids and get to know my other students too.

I am the Grade Four leader in 2012. There are four classes in the Grade Four area and none of us have taught the year level before. I am feeling positive about this fact. It will be great to have a fresh outlook for Grade Four and we’ll be able to go in our own direction, taking into consideration our school goals and the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) of course!

What am I looking forward to?

A change in year level means a change of classroom. Kathleen Morris and I have left our lovely, big, open classroom for two smaller connecting portables. While we will have less space, we’re making the most of our new surroundings. We have spent a lot of time cleaning, organising and decorating our “new” rooms over the holidays. Our students will be in a great learning environment from day one and we are determined to train our students become as organised and orderly as we are!

I am really looking forward to blogging with my Grade Four students. As you probably know, blogging is a big part of my curriculum and my Grade Two students achieved so much from the experience. My new Grade Four students will really be able to extend their literacy skills and develop more tech knowledge throughout the year. It will be great to see what they can do! Some of them will be familiar with blogging and I’m sure the others will catch on quickly. Kathleen and I are hoping to have a lot more students earning their own blogs throughout the year.

Literacy is one of passions in education. My experiences in Prep, Grade One and Two mostly focussed on teaching young students strategies for reading, writing and spelling. I am looking forward to teaching more advanced students and really extending their learning, understanding and skills. Using more complex and interesting texts, honing in on skills to really develop their writing and having more sophisticated and mature conversations will be terrific.

New challenges…

* Becoming familiar with the expectations for this year level

* Extending students who are already working at or beyond Grade Five level

* Teaching “joined” handwriting

* Adapting the Daily 5 and CAFE models for my new students

* Team teaching in two connecting portable classrooms instead of one open room

* The Bike Education program

 

What year level are you teaching this year?

What are you looking forward to and what challenges will you face?

  21 comments for “A New School Year

  1. January 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Congratulations on your Yr 4 class:) I am really looking forward to keeping up with your experiences on this new grade. Your classroom is looking fabulous!! I am a new teacher and have just accepted a temporary position for Term 1 at our local public school in country NSW, with a composite yr 1 / yr 2 class of 25 gorgeous kiddies! I am a huge fan of using technology in the classroom…especially in literacy and love your blog. Best wishes to you for a fabulous first week of Term 1!!
    Tina

    Good Morning Mrs Rubie

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Tina,

      Thanks for your kind words! Congratulations on gaining a position at your local school, how exciting! Grade 1/2 is a lovely age group, I had three years in that composite combination when I first started teaching.

      Good luck with the beginning of your term, hope to hear from you again! :)

      Best wishes,
      Kelly

  2. Nicole
    January 28, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Hello Kelly,
    The new school year does bring loads of excitement and new challenges – all the best for teaching Grade 4 after so many years down in the lower levels. I taught grade 3/4 for many years and I think they are the best! After 14 years at the one school, taking into consideration I have had three kids and have also taken family leave, and returning part time for various support roles within the school, I have taken on the new challenge of a school five minutes from home, increasing my hours and being the ICT specialist teacher for the school, which I am really excited about! For the first time in many years it will actually be nice to have my own desk and room again! So for me, new school, new role, new hours are all new challenges but I look forward to the new learning and experiences they all will bring.
    Once again – enjoy your year,
    Nicole

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 28, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      Hi Nicole,

      Wow, what an exciting year ahead for you! I can imagine the stability of knowing exactly what you’re doing this year would be very comforting. And teaching at a school only five minutes from home is great!

      Wishing you all the best in your ICT specialist role this year, I’m sure you’ll do a terrific job.

      Thanks for your comment,
      Kelly

  3. Kylie
    January 28, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Thank you for your post Kelly.

    It’s always good to be reminded of goals for the year. I teach in Queensland and we have already started back. I’m teaching Prep and boys make up more than 2/3 of my class. So I am looking forward to the challenge that brings.

    Good luck with your first week back and your challenges for the year.

    Kylie

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      Hi Kylie,

      Wow, that’s a lot of boys in your class! I’m sure that will make for some dynamic moments in the classroom but it’ll be fun to really cater for the little boys you’re teaching.

      I hope the start of your school year has started smoothly! :)

      Thanks for commenting,
      Kelly

  4. Valerie McLeod
    January 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Hi Kelly

    I’m a Yr 7/8 teacher at an intermediate school in New Zealand. What a great blog post to start the year off! I’m sure if I took the time to document my ‘beginning of the year’ thoughts as you have, the result would be a sense of order and preparedness for our year’s start on Tuesday.

    This year is my first year blogging and I’ve signed up to a quad blog. I’m really excited about the real-life literacy context it’ll provide for my students as well as the opportunity for them to make global connections AND think outside their own perspective/s. I’ve had a huge clean-up and turf-out in my classroom. It’s feeling so much more sorted and relaxing to be in; so I’m looking forward to welcoming my new class into a great learning environment. Literacy and Maths are my passions – and I ALWAYS look forward to teaching these. With Literacy, I’m excited about modifying my programme this year to include some ideas I’ve been mulling over. In Maths, I love to challenge the ‘Maths is hard’ and ‘Maths is boring’ mindsets and I get a kick out of seeing kids enjoying Maths and feel capable in it.

    My challenges this year are: sustaining the blog (I feel a tad daunted about this) and learning new web tools. Basically, this year I’m embracing/embarking on the tech journey. Oh, and last challenge, time management/fitting it all in and having rest-of-my-life-time. :) 2012′s definitely going to be a good one!

    Here’s to fabulous outcomes this year.

    Valerie

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm

      Hi Valerie,

      Thanks for your terrific comment! I agree with you, throwing out old things you no longer use and reorganising your resources is so satisfying! It sounds like you’re all set for a great year.

      Well done taking the leap into blogging, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! I have no doubt you’ll get a lot out of the quad blogging experience. It’s a great way to connect with other classes in a meaningful way, so good luck with that!

      I agree, 2012 will be a great year! :)

      Kelly

  5. January 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Hi Kelly
    Your new teaching space is looking great and I’m sure you will enjoy your new challenges this year, particularly in your Grade 4 leadership role.
    Even after 30 or so years in teaching I’m always excited with the new possibilities at the start of each year.
    This year I too want to continue to refine my practice in using Daily5 and CAFE in my reading programme, and I plan to take a closer look at my oral language and maths programmes.
    I think I’m also taking on the administration of our school website, so mastering html will be a new challenge!

    All the best for the start of your new school year next week.
    Judy

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Hi Judy,

      The start of a new school year is always exciting, it’s great to welcome a new group of students and get to know the kids you’ll be teaching for year.

      That’s great that you are taking on the role of leading your school website, you’ll do a wonderful job!

      Wishing you all the best for the start of your school year and we’ll no doubt be showing 4KM and 4KJ your blog soon! :)

      Thanks for the comment,
      Kelly

  6. January 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    Your room looks great – all ready for the start of the year! I’m (finally) going to be able to get into my room tomorrow and have a potentially manic day of unpacking boxes and finding furniture!

    Congratulations on your Grade 4 leadership role. I’m sure that, along with the challenges, there’ll be many rewards for you as part of that role.

    This year I’m teaching a Prep/1 class, which presents its own challenges for me – it’s my first year teaching Grade 1 (although I know all the students, and taught 4 of them last year), and it will be a bit of balancing act at the start of the year.

    I’m looking forward to continuing blogging with my students (and hopefully getting a few other classes on board!), being on the ICT team, and supporting the 3/4 team with their 1-1 ipad program.

    Good luck for the start of term this week!

    Stef Galvin

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      Hi Stef,

      Prep/1 is a challenging combination and I’ve never taught it before, but I am guessing the Grade 1s will be terrific role models for the new Preps and I’m sure it’ll be lovely to have some students you’ve taught before. I am very much looking forward to teaching some familiar students again 2012, it’s so nice to already know them and their families so well.

      The 1-1 iPad program in the Grade 3/4 area sounds great, you’re lucky to have that. Hopefully you get a chance to play with the iPads in your class too!

      Good luck for the start of the year,
      Kelly

  7. Debra de Vries
    January 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Kelly,
    I hope your big PD day went well.
    Your room is looking great. Did you get yoor dad painting the classroom as well as you house?
    I’m betting that 2012 will be a fantastic year for you and the Grade 4 team.
    The 2011 Grade 3 kids were a wonderful group- so enthusiastic. I know I’ll miss them, but I’m really looking forward to teaching the Grade 2′s in your old room. I won’t know myself with all that space. Matt will no doubt keep me entertained too!
    You’ll really be able to get your teeth into teaching all the higher level skills needed if kids are to be truly literate. I know with you at the helm, there will be a strong focus on literacy.
    Good luck with Bike Ed!
    See you soon,
    Deb

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 31, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Deb,

      The “Technify Your Teaching” PD was terrific! We thoroughly enjoyed presenting and got some excellent feedback, which is lovely to hear. I hope Guy enjoyed the day! :)

      I am very much looking forward to teaching Grade Four this year and I have such wonderful memories from those students in 2010. I’m very happy and lucky to teach them again! I am particularly excited about getting into some more advanced literacy work with the kids and it will be great to explore and scaffold their higher level thinking.

      I know you and Matt will love that open classroom as much as Kath and I did, we had so much fun in there.

      See you tomorrow,
      Kelly

  8. Laura Howard
    January 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    I am a 4th year education student. Your blog is great and makes me feel so excited about becoming a teacher in the future!

    I have actually been placed at your school for my practicum this year and will be commencing my placement on Wednesday in a grade 1/2 classroom with Anne. I am really looking forward to my time there, although a little daunted, as this will be my first placement with students in years 1/2. I can’t wait to see the Daily Five and CAFE in action as Anne provided me a copy of the books written by ‘the sisters’ to read so as I could become familiar with the programs! I would love to catch up with you at recessor after school sometime to chat about your classroom blog as, similarly to Valerie in New Zealand, blogging is all quite new to me!

    All the best for the year ahead!

    Laura :)

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      January 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Laura,

      How lovely to hear from a student teacher who will be at Leopold! I had my teaching rounds at Leopold in my final year too and loved the experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

      I have worked with Anne for a number of years in the Grade Two area and my classroom was right next to hers when I first started teaching nine years ago. I know you will learn a lot from her.

      The CAFE and Daily 5 books are excellent. I read them a year ago and so much of what “The Sisters” write about makes sense. I have modified the program somewhat, to fit into the strucures and times we have for literacy. It has certainly made reading the real focus, and I love that the students are always practising their skills and working on the strategies.

      We’ll definitely have a chat about blogging during your placement at Leopold.

      I look forward to meeting you soon,
      Kelly

  9. January 31, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I’m really happy for you – teaching with a wonderful teaching partner is incredible.

    I’ve been partnering with someone in a pod for three years now. We’ve worked out a system where we’re each ultimately responsible for assessing our students and reporting to parents, we do the following:
    - I teach the writing mini-lessons with all 44 students. THen they break out to work.
    - My partner teaches all the reading minilessons – same as writing.
    - We formatively assess math students (on a daily basis) and group for re-teaching and enrichment as needed. Rather than having three groups in each class, we have three groups between the two. Again, less prep.
    - We discuss what we see with regards to students work. I learn so much from that!

    Anyway, congrats and have a GREAT time!
    Janet | expateducator.com

  10. Kara Heinrich
    February 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Hi,

    Love your site and the information you have provided. I have only just stumbled across the daily 5 and would be really keen to learn more from other teachers in Australia who uses it and implements it in their classes – I’m in a tiny school in SA with an R-2 class – and have just ordered the books daily 5 and cafe – would love to learn more from you about the benefits of blogging – keep up the wonderful work!

  11. Justine
    March 4, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Hi Kelly!
    I am enjoying reading your blog and would love to hear more about how you have modified the Daily 5 for your year 4 class! This is my first year teaching and I have been trying to find a literacy model that would work for my year 5/6 class. I have ordered the Daily 5 books and look forward to implementing the program in my classroom when they arrive!
    I am also interesting in your use of blogging with your students, as it is something I would like to try with my class!
    All the best,
    Justine

  12. Mrs Buckby
    April 14, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Hi Kel,
    I know I’m a bit slow commenting but I’ve only just stumbled on your blog! I’m thrilled to find another great resource to help me in my journey to being the best teacher I can be – you and Kath have been invaluable.
    I have actually ordered ‘the daily 5′ and the ‘cafe menu’ online and am eagerly awaiting their arrival! I’m finding that the traditional early years literacy planning is not working for my students. I feel I spend too much time explaining and reiterating what each ‘group’ should be doing and wasting the time with my ‘teacher group’. They are not engaged at all during the 2 hour literacy block and I often feel at the end of that 2 hours that the time has been wasted which does not sit well with me AT ALL!
    I know when I was in your grade 2 class that all the students were engaged and really absorbed in what they were doing – I’m aiming for that!

    Keep up your great work Miss Jordan. I hope you don’t mind but I may become a nuisance asking for advice (just ask Mrs Morris!)

    ;) X

    • Miss Kelly Jordan
      April 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Tenielle,

      Great to hear from you! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Daily 5 and Cafe books, I know you will too. They are quite inspiring and everything “The Sisters” say just makes so much sense.

      I know exactly what you mean, I remember a couple of years ago my Monday literacy sessions seemed to be full of explanations/demonstrations of the reading group activities for the week. It would take so long to get through those lesson introductions. And what learning was really happening anyway? The students were simply listening to instructions for a variety of activities instead of actually spending the time practising their reading skills!

      Using the Daily 5 activities (or modified versions) makes planning so much easier too. There are no worksheets to prepare and you don’t have to spend much time thinking of activities because the students pick up on what the Daily 5 activities are so quickly. This means they’re spending more time reading, which is the whole point!

      I think my Grade Four students are even more absorbed in the literacy block this year. When I scan the other groups while doing Guided Reading, the students are so engaged and, unless they’re doing “Read to Someone”, the room is so quiet due to the level of engagement. It is very pleasing to see!

      I’m glad Kath and I can continue to help you! :)

      Kel

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