The Benefits of Keeping a Journal

by: Jennifer Perez

I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember.  My first recollection of writing was in my very own hard-back leather  journal.  The kind that came with two tiny gold keys attached to one another through a single silver hoop.  I remember feeling so important as I jingled those tiny golden keys to unlock my very own journal….a place I wrote my feelings, thoughts, dreams, fears and so much more.  I didn’t realize it then, but journal writing was very therapeutic.  I was always a quiet child- not one to verbalize much, but when I wrote…..I did so with such detail and emotion, it was as if I were actually speaking to someone, instead of just writing in a journal.  Or was I ” just writing in a journal?”

It wasn’t until I was an adult when I re-read my childhood journals that I was able to appreciate the importance of journal writing.  While reading those journals, I noticed several important things worth mentioning:

1. My spelling, at times, was horrendous!  Yes, I am admitting it…my spelling wasn’t always perfect, but in my journal I was able to take chances without anyone telling me that I needed to “look at that again.”  A part of growing up is learning from your mistakes, and let’s just say…I’ve learned from my spelling mistakes!

2. Every journal entry was different: some days it was obvious that I had  GREAT day, other days not so much.  Whatever the day brought it was visible through the writing on the pages of my journal.  As an adult, this made me wonder…..If everyone always spoke what they thought, would there be less “miscommunication in today’s society?”  Interesting thought to ponder as there can be miscommunication in anything and everything we do!

3. While reading these journal entries, I noticed that the entries were not ones that were written in 10 minutes.  It seemed as though I had plenty of time to myself to think about what I wanted to write….to truly choose the right words to express myself.  This made me think, “Just like adults, children also need some time to themselves.”  Why?  Everyone needs time to reflect, wind down from the day and just be in the presence of the now.  It may not be easy for a young child to ‘reflect’ on the day, but this would be a wonderful skill to teach your child as it will be something they will constantly do throughout their lives!

There are many benefits in keeping a journal ~ for both children and adults.  I have listed a few benefits from my own personal journaling experiences, but everyone is different.  If journaling is something you’d like for your child to take advantage of then explain to them what it is. Maybe even go to the local bookstore and encourage your child to choose their favorite journal.  Let them know that their journal is theirs, for their eyes only and they can write about anything and everything.  Share with them my experience if you’d like!

Happy Journaling!

© Jennifer Perez 12/27/10

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December 27, 2010 at 10:27 PM 1 comment

Happy Halloween

by: Jennifer Perez

Happy Halloween everyone!!  For all of you parents out there, I’m sure this day can be just as exciting for you as it is for your little ghosts and goblins.  (In my case, Ariel!)  We took my daughter Trick or Treating for the very 1st time EVER and we had a blast!!  This little Ariel had such a ball walking around the neighborhood with her mommy, daddy, Tio (uncle) and Nani (grandma).  I’m sure people were chuckling as Peyton walked up with her own entourage(Tio & Nani)  and paparazzi (mommy & daddy).

Our little Ariel dipping into the Halloween Treats!

 

Peyton A/K/A walking to the next house with her Nani! (There goes the paparazzi, I mean daddy in the background!)

 

Ariel and Superman….what a team!!

We hope you all had a fabulous Halloween!!  Til next year!!

Happy Spooking!

October 31, 2010 at 8:54 PM Leave a comment

ELL Ayuda (Help!)

by: Jennifer Perez

I don’t know about you all, but each year, I have at least 3 students each year who enter my classroom not speaking any English whatsoever. At our school, the main second language is Spanish.  Luckily for me, I consider myself to be pretty fluent in Spanish so communicating with my spanish speaking students and their parents isn’t a challenge.   (Thank goodness for my grandparents being persistent and teaching me Spanish when I was younger!)  I try my best to have frequent conversations with my ELL (English Language Learner) students, in Spanish, to see how they are feeling about things: the classroom, their learning, what they are doing at home to help their learning come along and anything else they need to talk about.  I have found that these conversations help my students stay ‘connected’ with me and their peers.

I try very hard to put myself in their shoes: new country, new school, ALL new people, new customs, traditions, new language, new procedures, etc….

To sum it up-EVERYTHING is new and they are expected to perform just as the other students do!  I sat down one day and brainstormed a list of things/ways I can help my ELL students transition into their new community and also become successful learners as well.

Here is the list I have come up with thus far:

1.  Daily mini-meetings to see how the students are progressing and answer questions

2. I read daily with my ELL students with books that are on their level.  This helps them to build confidence-the confidence they need to continue trying new things even if in another language!

3. Personal Vocabulary Files ~ I have my students use a personal index file and they add at least 5 words per week to their file.  I have them draw the picture  and write the word in English AND their native language.  My students then use these words in their reading, writing and Literacy Centers.

4. I keep constant communication with parents via email, telephone and notes in the student planners.  I notify parents of upcoming projects, assignments and opportunities to volunteer in the classroom.

5. I strategically seat my ELL students with peers that speak English and their native language.  This helps a lot with building confidence, friendships and the idea of the ‘gradual’ release model.

This is a list that I am sure will need to be revised even as the school year continues to unfold.  The important things to keep in mind is that our ELL students are working at a disadvantage as soon as they step foot into our classroom.  What is that disadvantage?  Not speaking English in a classroom where the primary instruction is given IN English and tested IN English.  As professional teachers, it is our responsibility to  help each of our students reach their maximum potential ….. even if they don’t speak English!

 

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 10/11/10

 

October 11, 2010 at 8:56 PM Leave a comment

Inspirational Breakfast?

by: Jennifer Perez

Last Friday, I hosted a 3rd Grade Team Breakfast in my classroom before school started and it was such a great way to the start the day!  As you have previously read, I tend to arrive at school fairly early to get a head-start on my day.  However, Friday was special.  I wanted the team to ease into their day with a morning filled with Starbucks coffee, home-baked corn muffins and an inspirational reading from Heart of a Teacher.  (Ok, well- I am not sure if I truly inspired anyone, but I DID read an excerpt!)

It was really great just being able to catch up on things over coffee and not having anything “that needed to be done” at that particular moment.  I must say, I laughed so hard several times that my tummy actually hurt!  What a different way to start the day.  Let’s see….. rush around and get things done vs. belly laughs with co-workers??  Do I need to choose?  No way, I’m thinking of making our Team Breakfasts a regular occurrence in Room 403.  Maybe this will be the beginning of a new blog or book perhaps? Belly laughs in Room 403??  I like the sounds of that!

Happy Laughing & Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 10/3/10

October 6, 2010 at 5:48 PM Leave a comment

My Early Start!

by: Jennifer Perez

A typical morning for me at school begins around 6:40 am each day.  Now, teachers don’t have to arrive until 7:30 am, but for me, I need MORE time to do the things I NEED to do!  What may that be you ask??? Part of my morning “get the class ready” routine involves:

  • Setting up each lesson for the day
  • Hanging Anchor Charts that correspond with lessons
  • Setting out the Morning Work for the day
  • Checking and responding to e-mail
  • Planning lessons for the next week
  • Creating Literature and Math Centers
  • and sooo much more! (I get everything else done while the kiddos are at Music, P.E. and lunch!)

For me, arriving to school early allows me the opportunity to do the things I NEED ( more like want) to do without having the pressure of ‘time’ working against me.  Once the school day begins, it seems as though I don’t even have a chance to gather my thoughts.  (I refer to my days as ‘sprints’ rather than ‘marathons.’)  So, although I do get to school ridiculously early, I almost prefer it that way….for my own peace of mind!

For those who know me, know I am very much a perfectionist and pride myself in doing the very best I can in everything that I do! Teaching is no different than anything else I do….if anything, I take my job MORE seriously than anything else that is going on in my life.  After all, is it my responsibility to make sure I have the best possible lessons prepared, in each subject, to reach ALL of my students needs!!  Whew- I’m exhausted just thinking about my day and what it entails…..but, when it comes down to it….I really do love what I do and I am honored to be in this profession!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 10/2/10

October 4, 2010 at 5:56 AM 1 comment

Hispanic Heritage

by: Jennifer Perez

Just what is Hispanic Heritage Month?  According to Hispanic Heritage Month.gov, “Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

As a teacher, I feel that it is extremely important to create ‘experiences’ for my students. If they do not have the schema, or background knowledge, to support certain lessons, then that’s alright!  It is my job as their teacher to help them to create it!

Each year, I brainstorm ways of creating lessons that teach my students the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month.  I like to incorporate:

  1. Technology-Short video clips and virtual tours are excellent ways to ‘hook’ my students.
  2. Text- I enjoying searching for a variety of text and flooding the room with MANY options.  A few options include poetry, Realistic Fiction, articles and magazine clips.
  3. Writing- I encourage my students to reflect upon their thinking

So where do I start?

There are tons of resources at our fingertips…we just need to locate them and use them!  Personally, I always begin with an Internet search to find the most up to date information; whether it is in books, articles, sites or virtual tours. Next, I determine what I can and cannot use for my current class.  As teachers, we know that each year brings a new set of students, completely different from the previous year.  (It is important to keep this in mind when planning any subject!)

Suggested Resources to use in planning your Hispanic Heritage Month Unit.

After some research, I have pulled together the following resources to help me teach my students about Hispanic Heritage Month.

  1. http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
  2. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/hispanic/
  3. http://www.biography.com/hispanic-heritage/

This site contains excellent short clips to share with your students.

  1. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage_month/index.html
  2. My Diary from Here to There by: Amada Irma Perez
  3. Harvesting Hope: The story of Cesar Chavez by: Kathleen Krull
  4. Famous Hispanic Americans by: Janet Morey

There are MANY other resources available out there that can be used to create amazing lessons for your students.  I hope that these few will get you on your way!  Please feel free to share any other resources you may find!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 9/26/10

September 27, 2010 at 7:41 PM Leave a comment

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten and First Grade! (Book Giveaway!)

by: Jennifer Perez

Get excited about this book giveaway!  One lucky winner will win a set of 3 books including: Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!, Let’s Get Ready for First Grade AND Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! A Prepararse Para Kindergarten!

I have had the opportunity to have these books for about 5 months and I LOVE them!  I have given some to my friend’s whose children are pre-school age, used them in my own classroom and now am hosting a book give-away.  One of the greatest aspects of these books are the pages are dry erase.  This means the books can be used over and over again in any order you see fit!  These books would be absolutely perfect for any classroom and/or home with children!

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! by: Stacey Kannenberg

Let’s Get Ready for First Grade! by: Stacey Kannenberg

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!  A prepararse Para Kindergarten! by: Stacey Kannenberg

To enter the giveaway:

Leave a comment explaining why you’d like to win and answer the following questions:

1. What percentage of book sales will be donated to literacy programs?

2. Ms. Best is the classroom teacher of which grade level?  Kindergarten or First Grade?

3. Who is the author of this book series?

  • The contest will end November 3, 2010 at Midnight
  • The winner will be chosen by Random.Org
  • Contest winner will be contacted by email
  • If no response is received within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen

Good Luck and Happy Learning!

DISCLAIMER:
*I received the review products at no charge to evaluate and express my opinion. No other compensation was provided*

September 22, 2010 at 6:02 AM Leave a comment

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