Wednesday, January 6, 2016

All Kinds of Resolutions

Happy New Year! This is Brandi, from The Research Based Classroom, and I am excited to get back to blogging. I took a little vacation from blogging after the Focused on Fifth's 12 Days of Christmas extravaganza, so it's good to be back. Normally I am not the goal setting type of person, but I live with a very goal-oriented type of guy and it is apparently rubbing off. Usually our conversation goes like this....

Him: So what are your goals for this year?
Me: Haven't thought about it.
Him: Surely you have goals.
Me: Not really.

This year our roles completely reversed and the conversation went more like this....

Me: Don't you want to hear my goals for this year?
Him: You set goals?
Me: Yes, can you believe it??!!!!
(Then I proceeded to tell my goals.)
Me: So, what are yours?
Him: I don't have any.

I feel like I'm in some weird alternate existence right now.  I do have to admit that most of my goals are classroom oriented. It's too cold and frozen out their for making goals like "get more exercise." So let's talk classroom goals. Before I tell you my goals, you should keep in mind that I don't like to make big goals that I can't or won't keep, so I'm starting this goal setting business easy and achievable.

My first goal involves giving no more timed math tests. It's weird but I hadn't done them in decades. Literally. But when I moved to fifth grade this year, my entire team gave timed math tests and I succumbed to peer pressure. Ok...that's a little bit of an exaggeration because my team doesn't pressure each other, but I felt the pressure to conform. It was my first year in the grade level and I thought rocking the boat might be bad. But here it is mid-year and I don't feel like they have been helpful, so I started reconsidering how to get some fact fluency practice in without timed tests and I ended up right back to where I used to be when I taught first grade - GAMES. I am giving my students 10 minutes at the end of each math period to play games that help them build their basic fact fluency. Some students are playing games on electronic devices, others are playing dice games and some are choosing flash cards. So goal number one is to come up with more fact fluency games.

My second goal is brushing up on my US history. I have always loved history and usually consider myself as having a pretty good understanding of American history. We've traveled through most of the states and visited all the historical sites we could, but it's a whole different ballgame when you have to teach it. All of the sudden I find myself wondering how to best teach about Concord and Lexington and I've realized that it would be a lot easier to teach about things if I had a better understanding of them. So goal number two is more reading of American history books.

I also decided to ask my students to come up with an idea for a class goal that would help us make 2016 even better than 2015. The majority of my students came up with the same idea.

I probably would have picked less talking too. I really hope this is an achievable goal! So, how about you? What are you planning to change in 2016? And do you have any good history book recommendations?

Happy New Year!

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