No More Snow Days?


 According to this article, a district in South Carolina is taking away snow days! The district is planning to convert snow days to "eLearning Days." Imagine this: waking up to the news saying that it is too risky to drive outside so we will tell the kids to learn on their own with a computer. In theory, that sounds like a great idea! To have students learn on the computer in some fashion sounds way better than making it up at the end of the school year when at least 20% of the students skip anyways for various reasons. I get it, from the government side, that it seems inefficient to run buses and school operations in June when a lot of students do not come to school. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEET THE NEEDS OF YOUR POPULATION! I know I do not live in South Carolina, but this does not make any sense to me at all. Heres why:

1) Daycare Issue
- As with all snow days, when a school has been canceled, the parents/guardians have to scramble in the morning to figure out where the kids will go. Some families and situations have to have the parent/guardian call in and not go to work to take care of their child. Yes, this is unfortunate but this is the norm in our modern times. Now, imagine you actually have someone you trust to take care of your child for the day while you go to work. They probably have their own child and maybe a couple others too. This one adult/person (could be a high school teenager?) is not only responsible for making sure they are safe, but now they have to make them do school work too. This may not seem horrible, but it does lead to my next problem...

2) Internet Access Issue
- NOT ALL FAMILIES HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME! To rely on others and communities such as libraries is not always convenient (for example unsafe to drive/walk...). My point is not all homes have access to the internet. Now imagine the scenario above (1 adult/teenager and about 4 to 6 kids ranging from 5 to 14 years old) and now expect them to do work on the computer/phone/tablet. That means you need capable technology for each kid to do their work (or to share). However, THIS IS ALL MOOT IF THEY DON'T HAVE INTERNET ACCESS AT HOME! I know in my community, more than half the students don't have internet access at home. Typically, only the parents have their smartphones that have access to the internet. Now they technically have internet access, but we are going to expect the adult to give their phone to the child and do grade level/differentiated work on a screen the size of their palm? That is too small of a screen regardless of your age to do important work that impacts your grades/work! This extends to my next concern...

3) Student Expectation Issue
- The teacher delivers the content to the students and the students have the opportunity to do it with internet access and on an appropriate screen. What if the student does not know how to do it without teacher guidance? What if the student cannot read it? What if there are technical issues? What if the student needs to ask a question because the assignment has a mistake and the teacher did not catch it? What if the student did all the work, but the work is wrong and you are not able to turn it in until the mistakes are fixed and no one in the house knows how to fix it? That is a lot of what ifs and I only thought about this for five minutes. In the modern age of education, students are on different levels and learn in different ways. That is not the issue, but it does become one when expecting them to have the content delivered to them differentiated, which leads to my last major concern...

4) Teacher Expectation Issue
- What is the teacher's role in this? Being a teacher, I HAVE MANNNNNY QUESTIONS about this if it was implemented at my school. Here are just a few that pop into my head:
A) Do the teachers work from home or have to go to school in the unsafe driving conditions?  If we work from home, does this count as part of our contract? How do we show proof of work?
B) What kind of assignments are we expected to assign to the students?
C) What if the child cannot have internet access at home? Are they exempt? Considered absent? Do they do get extra time to do it? (many questions in this department)
D) As we are expected to give the students digital assignments based on their level and the style they learn best (despite the state/district mandated testing doing the opposite)?
E) How can we deliver the content to the students if they are not supposed to need internet access (according to the article)?
F) How are teachers expected to monitor the student's progress when the assignments do not rely on the internet?
School Issue Question  G) Are the schools/districts going to supply the technology necessary for the students to do this type of work at home? (It says that the teachers will send their assignments to the students' computers. If they are, these Chromebooks  (see affiliate disclaimer here) are about 200 dollars. 200 x the number of students you have in a school. That is minimum of 50,000 dollars out of the budget to accommodate the students with serviceable Chromebooks.)

I only gave this section five minutes to think of potential concerns from the teacher side and I feel they are important enough for them to answer/fix if my district were going to do this.

In Conclusion
In theory, this sounds like a great idea! It really does! A schedule that does not change and we convert our snow days to snow day/eLearning day? To me, on the surface, it makes sense to do something like this if you live in a place that has many weather problems. BUT! Practically? With the way money is given to education/allocated from the federal or state governments, this does not work. If they are willing to give more money to the schools, then this could be possible because they can then spend money on technology the students can take home. But, even if they have technology given to them from school, is it expected of them to have internet access at home? What if they don't? Is the school going to buy it for them? Is the government going to subsidize the internet service or supplement it for the families to have it? To sum up, if this was going to be implemented, a lot of questions need answers/solved to ensure the access to education is equitable.

Thank you for reading my response to this article. Tell me what you think? You agree? Disagree? Share this to your friends and family and see what they feel about this! Thanks again!

No Prep & Effective Morning Work!

Let me start by saying that I truly believe there are many ways to start the day right when students come to the door. However, in a 5th-grade classroom, morning work can be an effective teaching practice.

This post is my first official review of a product that is available on TPT (Teacher Pay Teachers). This post is an example of a sponsored review. Normally here I would say who this is sponsored by but in this case... no sponsor = no need! I am not being compensated for my honest opinions about the products listed below. All opinions here will always be my own!




Introduction
Imagine this: You come in at 7:40 am. Students come to the door in 20 minutes. You planned your week as per usual, but you completely forgot your morning work! You have no time to plan a thought out worksheet or questions based on Common Core Standards. You don't want them to sit there and read with no purpose. That is asking for trouble from the get-go! What do you do?
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
Wouldn't that be insane!?!? A lot of us create purposeful, common core aligned and interesting morning work. But, what if I told you someone already did that for you? The product is Morning Work - Bell Work: 5th Grade Math and English Language Arts Spiral Review. Set for each day of the school year! Kristine Nannini created a huge product that does exactly what I need. Here are the links to her blog and TPT store. The product has pages for all 180 days! On the TPT product website, it says "Review or “fact check” questions that either spiral back previous grade levels’ standards, or review important concepts that students need to practice." It even gives examples to help do the problems! This product is a mixture of Mathematical and ELA Common Core Standards. The first 15 pages are entirely based on 4th grade to get the students acclimated to the routine and refresh their mind to be successful in 5th grade.
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
 Advantages
A lot of us, teachers, have to multitask from the moment we step from school to after school when we are planning our lessons for the upcoming days. We all look for resources that meet our standards, easy to prep, and interesting. Well, this is it! Morning Work at times seems tedious and not productive. Yet, if we make the morning work about the standards, we will further develop those necessary skills our students need for 5th grade. I like to spend my planning on ELA and Math blocks so by having a product like this affords me that opportunity. Not to say spending time to create morning work isn't important, but when someone created a product that lets you focus on what you need helps TREMENDOUSLY, you should take advantage! The worksheets are a mixture of simple and difficult questions. After having students working by themselves first, they collaborate on the difficult ones. It takes about then 10-20 minutes to complete the worksheet. I also go over the answers with the class after I take care of the morning duties.
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
Disadvantages
With many created products made on TPT, not all can fit perfectly into each of our classrooms. That is why there is an infinite amount of products/strategies out there for our classrooms. This is one, despite its advantages, that can't fit in all classrooms. For one, this product audience is targeting the 5th-grade classrooms. Yes, it can be used rarely for those exceeding in lower grades or need help in higher grades, but its purpose is for 5th grade. Another disadvantage that is unfortunate is the inability to differentiate between the worksheets. Yes, you can mix it up and give each student different numbered worksheets, but then it breaks up the spiral method. What I did to combat this have I added problems on the back. However, it started to eat up into my planning time again.
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
Conclusion
To say this product is a good one is an understatement. You can tell from using the product that Kristine Nannini invested so much time and research into this. This product can meet a lot of people's needs, mine included. but it, unfortunately, can't meet everyone. I know teachers who take hours in creating their morning work through their curriculum, and standards. They differentiate their morning work to meet the needs of their students. All power to them, but to take hours into morning work and not even touching the rest of your lessons is just too much. This product is not for them. If you're looking for a simple, efficient, effective, and standard based morning work with no prep involved, then this is it! Here is the link to Kristine Nannini's store and blog. I hope this review helps your decision about this product.
The picture is created and produced by
Kristine Nannini - YoungTeacherLove
PS - THEY HAVE 4TH GRADE TOO!

Don't forget to share! It will go a long way in spreading the great resources around!

Book Review: Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan Should 5th Graders Read It?




Imagine your 5th-grade class absolute silent, listening & reading along with a book with you? Sounds too good to be true, right? I agree! I have taught 5th grade for four years now and every time we do a class read there are the occasional talking, wanting to go to the restroom, not tracking the book properly, fake reading. etc... AND I KNOW that is not only 5th grade that acts like that? In a nutshell, the class books we choose are ones we try to grab the most Common Core Standards and then grasping at straws in hoping it keeps their interests. What if we did the opposite? Why don't we find a book that has a plot that has many cliffhangers, can visualize very well, has the main character close to their age, and teaches life lessons too? All of this on top of the Common Core Standards too? A book like that seems too good to be true! Well, I am here to tell you that the book Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan is a book that 5th graders SHOULD READ!

Synopsis of the Book according to Pam Munoz Ryan's website:
Esperanza Ortega possesses all the treasures a girl could want: dresses; a home filled with servants in Mexico; and the promise of one day presiding over El Rancho de las Rosas. But a tragedy shatters that dream, forcing Esperanza and her mother to flee to Arvin, California and settle in a farm camp. There, they confront the challenges of work, acceptance, and economic difficulties brought on by the Great Depression.

This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure here

A Teacher's Perspective
I have done a multitude of books in the form of class read, independent read, small group, and lit circles. BUT, no book has gotten the attention of my 5th graders so much that they whine and cry because we finished our reading for the day. Seriously, WHINE AND CRY. I have had more than three classes read this book and each one of them got so into it that they tried to cheat and read it instead of their personal books to see what will happen next. 

Not to say this is a downside, but you have to do some background pre-teaching about what happened in Mexico and the United States in the early 1900's. You don't have to do it, but it would really help them understand the story better. Also, it does place a decent amount of spanish, but it does give the English translation almost immediately after. 

This book hits many 5th grade ELA Common Core Standards. MANY. You can seriously hit almost all the ELA if you really wanted to, but we all have time constraints. I have taught this book as slowly as a chapter a week to as fast as three chapters a week. You don't have to hit all the possible standards, but you can definitely hit the major ones. 

Now teaching ELA using this book for three years in a row, I can definitely recommend this book to teach 5th grade with. It peaks their interest, there are MANY resources available (TPT or not) to help teach the book, hits many Common Core ELA standards, there are audio resources for those who struggle, and the book is based on a true story! Please click here to go buy it! 


Why Should 5th Graders Read It? 
Besides the repeated tellings of how this book can use to teach many ELA Common Core Standards? Because the story grabs the students interest! Not only is the story interesting to them in terms they 90% can understand, but the fact that many students can relate to the story in some way. In the modern times, we are in, many more kids are coming to us with problems that no one should go through. This story will relate to them to some level of going through hard times and trying again even though it doesn't feel you should. So, in a nutshell, this book has something for everyone. This book can help your class A LOT!

Conclusion
After teaching this book for three years and to a multitude amount of students, I can say with confidence this book will not only help you teach the 5th Grade Common Core Standards efficiently, but the plot of this book will connect with students that many other can't. This book is highly recommended and pretty inexpensive! Please Click here to buy the book or click the on the book! 


Thank you for coming to read this Book Review: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. Don't forget to comment below if you have a question. Better yet, SHARE IT! If you would like to get in contact with me: teachalldayeveryday@gmail.com