Daily Lesson Objectives: More Than Just Wallpaper in your Classroom


How many of you display your daily objectives/learning targets in your class?

I'm thinking many of you do. Here's a snippet of my Goals Board. I sectioned off part of my front board with washi tape and put up these cute subject cards. Yes, normally I have goals written on it, but this photo was taken before my Open House last year.
So you have your objectives displayed. But then what? Maybe before your lesson, you read the objective aloud to your students?

I used to do that. And then one day, I took a hard look at my students while I was reading my objective. Guess what I saw?

A whole lot of blank faces. 
Maybe there were two or three kids really listening. You know those few kids. The ones who are angels and are always listening no matter what. But two or three out of 22 students is NOT a good percentage. This was not going to work!

How can I make my lesson objectives board more than just wallpaper in my classroom?

I made a change. I still read my objective to my students. Sometimes I have them read with me. But before I dive into my lesson, I make my students interact with the lesson objective. This makes them active, engaged learners right from the get-go. It also gets them thinking about what they'll be learning during the lesson. Here are some strategies I use when introducing my learning target at the beginning my lesson:
1. WRITE THE OBJECTIVE
This works great for third grade and up. I tried this with my second graders one year, and while they could do it, it did take them longer than I would've liked. When we are interacting with the goal, I try to keep it short and sweet. But writing the goal helps to solidify it in your students' brains. You can have your students write the goal in their notebooks.

2. HIGHLIGHT/UNDERLINE KEY WORDS IN THE OBJECTIVE
We do a lot of this in my second grade class.  I type up all my unit objectives, and my students glue them their notebooks. We read the learning target together, and then we work to pick out the important words to either highlight or underline. Underlining is faster, but highlighting stands out more. If your kids don't have highlighters (or they lose them like a few of my friends always do), I tell them to use a yellow marker.

3. GIVE A "BEFORE LEARNING" SELF SCORE
This is a great strategy for getting students to think about what they already know about the objective. You can do this a few ways: Thumb up, thumb to the side, thumb down; holding up fingers, or writing in their notebooks. When we use our interactive notebooks, my students give themselves a before learning rating right on the table of contents page in their notebooks. We use a 3, 2, 1 scale, with 3 being "I know many things about the learning target and could teach a friend."

4. TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOR ABOUT THE OBJECTIVE
My students are all assigned a "pair share buddy" that sits near them. That way, when it's time to turn and talk, they aren't spending the whole time looking for someone to talk to. Some things partnerships can talk about:
---Read the objective to each other
---Restate the objective in your own words
---What do you already know about the objective?
---What words don't you know? Maybe your partner can tell you what they mean!

These strategies are meant to be a spring board into the rest of your lesson. There are SO many other ways you can activate your students' prior knowledge and prime them for learning after you introduce your learning target. I try to keep this part of my lesson to less than three minutes.

Do your students interact with your learning goals? If not, I encourage you to give it a try this upcoming year!


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Advice for New Teacher Moms

I'm linking up with Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Klass to share some tips and advice for teachers who are also moms. And if you're not a mom (or a dad!), stay tuned because I have a freebie that could work for everyone at the end!
My kiddos! Sly is 5 years, MC (Middle Child) is 3 years, and Muffin is 10 months.
I have three kids, which means I've been on maternity leave three times. I've heard many stories from teachers across the country about what their schools expect from them while on maternity leave. I am thankful that at my school, they hired a licensed teacher to take my place for up to 12 weeks.

I wrote a 20-ish page document I lovingly called "How to Run my Classroom" and gave it to my long-term substitutes. Haha!! I hope I didn't scare them too much! I met with each of them for at least a half-day before my leave to show them around my classroom, meet my students, and answer questions.
Is it hard to completely disconnect? Yes... and no :) Once you're holding your baby, all you'll be thinking about is feeding, diapers, and sleep. If you're trying to manage a baby and a toddler, or in my case last time, I had a kindergartener, a toddler, and a baby, then the days REALLY fly by. I also felt that for 12 weeks, my classroom wasn't mine-- my long term substitute needed to run my class in the ways that worked best for her. And even the best substitute in the world isn't me. No matter what, I would have to change things when I got back. So I let her do her thing, and then I did mine when I got back. Kids are flexible. When they would question me ("That's not how Mrs. _____ did it."), I would reply, "I know. But this is the way we're going to do it now." and my students were fine. I am thankful for AMAZING teammates who know exactly what I want in my classroom and who were willing to help and mentor my long-term substitutes.

My leaves were unpaid, but I could use my sick/personal days to get partially paid. Although you can imagine how many days left I had after 3 children in 5 years... When my MC was born, I sent Sly to daycare for three half-days. When Muffin was born, Sly was in kindergarten and I sent MC to daycare for three full days. I am thankful for an understanding husband and the ability to save money so I could have one-on-one time with my new babies.

What about when it's time to go back?
Two of my maternity leaves were at the very beginning of the school year. Let me tell you, that was HARD! Another teacher set up my classroom. Another teacher built my classroom community. And then here I come waltzing in 12 weeks later, and, "HEY KIDS! I'm your teacher. Now let's get to work!" I remember after my first maternity leave, I looked at a few of my students and had NO IDEA what their names were! That first week I got back, we did a lot of rules, routines, and expectations. Just like it was the beginning of the year. I moved at a faster pace, since it wasn't the beginning of the year and we had curriculum to cover. I did this even when I came back in January after my October baby. If you don't do this, you'll be dealing with behaviors for the rest of the year.

Are you a nursing mama? I was able to successfully pump at work with MC and Muffin. I pumped for 5 months with MC and 7 months with Muffin. I pumped 3 times a day on most days: 9:00 during my prep, 11:45 at lunch, 1:45 at afternoon recess. I let my principal know ahead of time of my plan to pump, and I was on the scheduling committee, so I could make sure I had consistent times every day to pump. I was also able to switch duties with my teammates so that I never had afternoon recess duty.

When I pumped, I only allowed myself to do it for 15 minutes. Some days it was 10 minutes if I was late getting started or needed to stop early. But my LC told me that any amount of time is better than no time :) By law, your place of work needs to give you time to pump, so if you don't have the schedule that I had, talk to your principal/supervisor.
My space was behind my desk.
I don't have a picture of what it actually looked like behind my desk, but let me tell you about it. Under my desk I had a mini fridge. I used a bathroom mat from IKEA to sit on to keep my bum from getting too cold on the tile floor. I originally bought the mats for my students to sit on during Read to Self, but I have five of them, so I felt OK permanently borrowing it from them! I had an outlet back there and kept my pump plugged in all day long. I also brought a Thirty-One thermal lunch tote back and forth every day to transport my milk and my pump parts. When it was time to pump, I pulled my rolling chair out of the way, unfolded and set up my mat, sat down on the floor and got down to business. I liked sitting on the floor. I could be more relaxed and comfortable on the floor.
I learned that little nugget from my LC. Such a time saver!!

I keep my door locked at all times, so when it was time to pump, I would shut off the lights and close the door. Sometimes I would put a sticky note on the handle of my door, OVER the lock, that said "Please don't come in." I only did that when the custodians were around. Don't need them walking in on that!! Make sure you put the note OVER the lock. I've heard of people putting the note on the door and still getting walked in on. If you put it over the lock, they have to move it in order to key in.

Honestly, I didn't mind if adults walked in on me. All of the teachers in my wing knew about my situation. I was well hidden behind my desk, so I would shout "Hello!" when the door opened, so they knew I was in there. I've also participated in quite a few team meetings while pumping! I never had a student walk in on me, but I have had them rattling the door knob and banging on the door. We had several chats about how it wasn't OK to do that. During inside recess, I would retreat to an empty classroom to pump.

Pumping at work definitely takes dedication. Some women can work while they're pumping. I can't. I found that I didn't make as much when I wasn't relaxed. I had to completely shut off my school brain to pump. Yes, it was hard to get back into school mode. And every night, I came home with a mountain of school work to do because I couldn't do it at work. Yes, many times I would get overwhelmed. But I just kept telling myself that I wasn't doing it for me; I was doing it for my baby. And it was only temporary. It also helped to have many supportive coworkers to remind me that I'm a mom first.

When I go back to work in September, I will not be pumping. #beenthere #donethat #SOoverit! My baby will be a year old, and my plan is to nurse in the morning and at night. But what can I do to make sure I DON'T come home with my school bag bursting at the seams?

I came up with this:
I need to make sure not one second of my prep time is wasted. So I made a schedule of what I am going do and when. This is actually for my schedule last year. I had a prep every day for at least 40 minutes. Every other Monday I had an additional 30 minute guidance prep. Every third Tuesday I had an additional 30 minute Spanish prep. On Thursdays, I had an 80 minute art prep. Every other Friday I had phy ed, which was 40 minutes, in addition to my 40 minute music prep. So those days were a little more loaded than other days.

Do I do all of these things every day? No. I know that things come up. Sometimes I have parents to call or additional meetings to attend. During grading periods, progress reports and report cards need to be completed. But it's a great guide to keep me focused so I'm not wasting 10 minutes of my prep figuring out what to do. Click HERE if you'd like a copy of my "Weekly To Do List." It is editable. You'll need these fonts: KG Skinny Latte, KG Be Still and Know, KG Miss Kindergarten, KG Lego House, KG Always a Good Time. If you use your own fonts, no worries, but some of the formatting will be off.

I love being a teacher. I love being a mom. It definitely is a balancing act to do both well. And having a cleaning lady helps too! What tips do you have for a working teacher mom?



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