Toolbox Strategies

I really enjoyed reading this book because it really related to my classroom.  One thing that really stuck out to me was having a toolbox of strategies that can be used in the classroom.  One of the strategies that can be used in the classroom are cheers and chants to get students excited about learning.  Another toolbox strategy is to build relationships and learn about your students’ culture.  I as a teacher learn what is important to them and what is exciting to them so I can use this as a building block for new learning.

Sara Stotler

Captivated and Motivated

I started and finished The Wild Card on a flight to California a couple weeks ago. This is not common for me. I’m often distracted by food, people, slight turbulence, or literally anything else a plane has to offer. This time, I found myself extremely focused- connecting to every chapter and most anecdotes. I wrote all over the margins about potential class transformations for our gigantic Oceans unit, restaurants for our Fractions and Decimals units, and so much more. I’m sure the person next to me on the plane thinks I’m a little crazy.

I love the enthusiasm about bringing music into the classroom! Thinking back to last year, it was linking the parts of an animal cell to to the tune of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (hand motions included) that helped my students remember what the parts are and what their function is. My goal for myself this year is to write (and perform…) more curriculum focused songs to help my students remember and better understand some of the more complex and abstract topics we learn together. The 5th graders loved hearing the band instruments and are excited to play as 6th graders, so if there is anyone out there that has a musical instrument talent, give me a shout so we can invite you to play for us!

The Wild Card has motivated me to make the dense and intense 5th grade curriculum more fun and accessible to all learners because, “Kids don’t buy boring.” I might just be doing odd jobs around my house to convince my husband to help me build a stage for my classroom next year…

What content area would you like to grow in this year? Why?

Being OK with my way of being creative!

The Wild Card is such a great read. I have enjoyed learning new ways to tap into my creativity and the way that I want to do it. Through the stories of Hope and Wade, I feel more comfortable to try new things. They both tell their stories of success’ and failures when it came to trying new things in the classroom.  I really like the fact that they talk about what they do and that it is always for the kids, even of they are going out of their comfort zone, they know that the students will really benefit from it so they take the risk.

I really love that Hope does a lot of room transformations, I love room transformations. I have only done this is small amounts with preschool students, but they loved and I could tell that they were learning so much from being immersed in the curriculum. I think that this is so critical for a demographic like the one we have Sully, they have very little background knowledge on so many things. Room transformations gives the students an opportunity to experience it. Hope and Wade also talk about doing these room transformations for topics that are hard for students to understand, this gives them more of a hands on experience and they end up learning the standards a lot better this way.

I am looking forward to reading more about how Hope and Wade have got students excited about coming to school. They have made it very easy for anyone to be creative, even if you think that you are not creative at all. They really help the reader to find their own way to be creative and to bring what they like into their classroom. One thing that Hope and Wade say that really stands out to me is, if you are not excited about what you are teaching then the students won’t be either. I truly believe that, I have seen both teachers that are excited and ones that are not and I could see how it effects their students, and it make a huge difference is performance from students. This book has been a great way to continue to be creative and provide a lot of hands on experiences for my students, because they need it. I can’t wait to finish it and read the stories Hope and Wade have to tell.

Wild about Creativity

Given so many choices on what professional book to read this summer was more difficult than I thought it would be. There were many choices and I remember how amazing I felt after finishing TEACH like a Pirate last summer and the courage it gave me to give into my passion and share it with my students. I decided to read The Wild Card so that I can work on bringing my creativity into the classroom throughout the school year and not just as I am setting up my classroom. I started reading and instantly connected with Hope and Wade, I love the different perspectives they give throughout the book and giving the reader’s an insight into what their own personal lives were like. I love how they make it that creativity is something that anyone can have and it can be different from one person to the next no matter what kind of background you come from. This is uplifting to me as I continue to read this book and get excited about what I will continue to learn.

Creative Breakthrough

Part two of the book is about Creative Breakthrough. It talks about the steps/traits that an educator should try to develop – Awareness, Desire, Reflection, Engagement, Authenticity, Grit, and Persistence.

Hope and Wade talked about Rebecca, a middle-aged teacher, who had been teaching in fifth grade for many years in the same public school. She had built up large supply of teaching materials and knew her lesson plans by heart. She was at the stage where she is getting tired of all the repetitions and was experiencing burnout. This made me pause and reflect! Am I at the stage where I am now like Rebecca; uninspired, burned out, and just marking my time until retirement? This book is bringing me back that beautiful feeling of passion when I was starting my teaching career. It is making me reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, going out of my comfort zone, and find encouragement and support. I am excited to be the new ME!

There’s Magic in The Wild Card

Choosing this book for my summer reading was a given.  Hope & Wade are changing the game in education and serious teacher role models for me.  Being a native of Atlanta, I’ve been hearing about the Ron Clark Academy for a long time.  Hope & Wade both have roots in Title 1 schools and now work at RCA, which is look at by hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers as the “Mecca” for student engagement.  Hope & Wade are an integral part of the Get Your Teach On regional & national conferences that happen 4 times a year.  In only two years, they’ve ignited the fire in so many teachers- including me.  Sara Stotler & I took 2 days out of our spring break last year attending Get Your Teach On in DC and it was amazing.

The Wild Card is a perfect metaphor to demonstrate what we as teachers are faced with in our school.  WE have to be the wild card for our kids.  We can make the impact on a student that can help them deal with the hand of cards they’re dealt (poverty, broken homes, EL, attention deficits) with before they even step foot in our classroom.  I’m a few chapters in so far in the audiobook (which I highly recommend) and I’m hoping that by the end, I’m inspired to find more ways for students to be excited about coming into my class, because they don’t always know what to expect–more call & responses, hand motions, songs, costumes, and maybe even trying out a room transformations!

Another idea that really struck me was when they were telling a story of when their school was on watch and they were handed scripted curriculum to deliver to their students in every subject.  While some teachers took it as an end-all into the art of teaching and student engagement, Hope & Wade stress the importance of DELIVERY.  “You have to decide how you will breathe life into your curriculum, regardless of what it is.”  How can this impact our Lucy Calkins units of study with reading & writing?