Good Morning from the teacher’s cabin! It’s about 6:30 a.m. and this teacher is enjoying some quiet time before the chaos begins. We have breakfast at 8:00 this morning and then the kids will be off to get ready for their first “big” hike. While they’re away, I’ll be writing my blog post about the bus ride (did you know that children moo?) It will be posted here: Miss McMillan Goes to Camp.
At dinner last night I sat with Julie, Patrick K., Justin B., Caitlin C., and Shannon B. As soon as I sat down I asked, “So, how was everybody’s first day?”
Note to self: Ask better questions!
Judging by all of the smiles and laughter (and the amount of spaghetti and breadsticks consumed), I think their day was oh so much better than “good”.
Here is the official five-day forecast for our week at Camp Caritas! Jealous?
Jealous enough to take the teacher’s place?
I didn’t think so.
Not that we weren’t already excited about Camp Caritas, but after our visit with our site director Alexa yesterday I think we’re all REALLY excited about next week (yes, teacher included).
One of the most important ideas that Alexa shared with us yesterday was this: students should come to Caritas with an open mind, because you get out of it what you put into it. Caritas is an amazing experience, but it can be even more amazing if you are willing to try new things and make new friends.
Another important idea that she shared with the kids is that everything we do at camp has a deeper meaning that will have students thinking about who they are as individuals and how they fit into their community. I loved it when she told them, “You are much more powerful than you could ever imagine!” So very true.
At one point during our time together she asked the kids to rearrange the furniture in the classroom so that they could sit on the floor in one big circle. But she didn’t just ask them to move their desks. Her instructions went like this:
- move all of the furniture to the sides of the classroom;
- give affirmations to three different classmates;
- hug your teacher.
While I have several snarky comments running through my brain about that last instruction, I have to tell you it was the best part of my day! No question. You see, Caritas doesn’t just bring the kids closer together. It brings the entire seventh grade community closer together. Teacher included.
I love that!
My next post will be full of last minute reminders and one last weather report, but in case you’re wondering, here’s the latest forecast:
It’s hard to believe, but ten days from today we’ll be leaving for Camp Caritas. I know it’s a little early to be looking at the weather for that week, but I just couldn’t help myself.
Let’s hope that 70° and sunny will be an accurate forecast for the entire week! But whatever the weather happens to be, we’ll make do. It’s Mother Nature’s game…she always wins. And if it rains, we’ll get wet. And the kids will have even more fun playing gaga ball!
If you’d like to check the weather in Occidental to see what your seventh grader has to look forward to, you can find it here: 10-Day Weather Forecast for Occidental.
While I’m away at camp each year, I try to keep those left off the bus (oh, you lucky souls!) apprised of what’s going on while we’re gone. If you would like to follow the adventures of a middle school teacher as she slowly, but surely, loses what’s left of her mind, this is the blog for you: Miss McMillan Goes to Camp.
Each morning, my seventh graders begin their day with at least ten minutes of writing in their journals. We’ve been using those black-and-white composition notebooks as our journals this year. Enter the iPad. Yesterday they asked if they could start writing their journals on the iPad. I was actually a bit hesitant to say “yes.” I know it’s old-fashioned, but I love the idea of being able to look back through a journal, flipping the pages and seeing all of that wonderful writing. But I told my students I’d let them decide for themselves.
All but one or two flipped open their iPads and began typing.
Now, normally when students write in their journals I’ll see some who get right to it. They’re happy to be writing and will often have half a page filled within a few minutes. I’ll see some who take a few minutes to get started and they’ll wind up only writing three or four sentences. And then there are those who will stare off into space and need prompting from the teacher to get writing.
This was not the case yesterday. As soon as they flipped open their iPads everyone started writing…and didn’t stop until I asked them to. And that was only after 30 minutes! We usually only write for ten minutes, as I said earlier. But I just wanted to see what would happen if I let them go. Thirty minutes! And as I walked around the room I noticed that everyone had written at least one long paragraph (and in seventh grade a paragraph needs to be six to eight sentences long).
I was thrilled! But it’s also important for students to see the difference in their writing, so I asked them for a show of hands. “How many people felt they wrote a lot more using the iPad?” Almost every hand went up into the air. “And why do you think that is?” Answers to this second question ranged from “It’s new and exciting to use the iPad,” to “It’s so much easier to write everything down quickly when you’re typing.”
I love it!
One of my goals for my seventh graders this year is to work really hard on writing. The iPad is going to be a tremendous help in achieving that goal!
Our classroom was abuzz with excitement yesterday morning as my seventh graders each received their school iPad. I’m not sure my students believed me when I said that I was even more excited than they were, but it’s true! I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I can’t wait to see what my students discover they can do with this new tool.
We were hampered a bit yesterday with connection issues; the internet was down for several hours. So if anyone wasn’t able to get some apps set up last night, we’ll take care of it today.
We’ll be using Edmodo quite a bit this year, so I thought I’d share a little bit about the site. Edmodo is a learning management system (LMS) that allows teachers to create a classroom community. We can have conversations online about what we’re learning; students can post questions about assignments or direct message the teacher (they cannot direct message anyone else, just me); I can post assignments and grade them right in Edmodo.
One thing I’m excited about this year is being able to quickly gather information from students via Edmodo and the iPad. For example, let’s say I’ve just given a lesson on word choice in writing. I can post an assignment in Edmodo and, before they leave the classroom, students can quickly write a sentence or two demonstrating what they’ve learned (it’s called an exit ticket). At the end of the day I can quickly go down the list of sentences and see who got it and who needs a little more help.
How cool is that!
On the first day of school last week, I asked my students to complete a Google Form that asked the question, “What is your definition of a fair teacher?” Here are their answers, in the form of a Wordle. (In case you didn’t know, the words that repeat most often appear larger in the Wordle.)
I hope I can live up to their definition!