THE GLOBAL READ ALOUD GRA19

This year we are participating in The Global Read Aloud https://theglobalreadaloud.com/ , and we will be reading The Bridge Home: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/the-bridge-home The purpose of this amazing global community effort is to connect scholars to books, and connect students to people in their community, as well as the global community who are reading the same book.  Check out the Google Map that I created which shows ALL of the participants reading this awesome book. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1A18W-xevtU8AXtkp65nfQLbkLcyFp_aS&usp=sharing

It is my goal as a 5th grade teacher to connect students with reading in a way that changes them forever.  I want my students to fall in love with reading, and find ways to learn about the world around them through reading, technology, and building global connections.

This year we will be using our technology to Skype/Google Hangout with other classes in the US and Canada to discuss the novel, The Bridge Home.  We will be using technology and apps such as Flipgrid and Padlet to connect with other scholars across the globe to discuss the book.  We will have an opportunity to connect with the author PADMA VENKATRAMAN via Twitter & Facebook, and possibly other modes of communication as well. 

It is my hope to have as many community members as possible sign up to read aloud to my students, and to discuss the importance of reading and becoming informed responsible global citizens.  As guest readers come in, I will be posting photos on Class Dojo.

We also have an opportunity to work with a local priest who is travelling to India.  He will be working in schools and has indicated that he would be able to get us pen pals and also to come in and speak as we finish the book in November.

This is one of the most excited initiatives that we participate in each year, and I hope that you and your scholar will find the experience to be as amazing as I do each year.

If you want to purchase this book for your scholar so that they have their own individual copy, that is up to you.  I have had friends and family donate copies of the book, so I should have enough for 23 students.

Off to a Great Start

We are on day 8 of school with students. And I am ready for a nap, LOL.

Week 1 we did a lot of team building and collaborative work to get to know each other and build a positive classroom culture. We set the expectations and talked about what those should look like in our class. Of course that is how we always start the year to make sure we set the “tone” from the beginning. So far, I have gotten lots of positive feedback from families and students.

We are in Week 2, and the academics are in full force. We are working on our first week of reading curriculum and our continents and oceans review in Social Studies.

I am pleasantly surprised that most of the scholars know a lot about Informational Text and can describe text features as well as reading and text marking strategies. 🙂 I am always surprised and saddened by the fact that most of my new 5th graders have no idea about our world. They cannot label or identify our seven continents, or the five oceans. So we jump right in with songs and study guides and visual projects to help them to learn them, and hopefully remember them.

I really am tired now that I am getting up at 5:15 AM each morning again. But I feel so satisfied that what I am doing each day is shaping minds and molding hearts and growing leaders! I cannot imagine my life without teaching.

Here’s a glimpse of the work we are doing already…..

Preparing for the year ahead

I am not sure if people who are not in education realize the preparation that goes into a new school year. We have only been back officially for two days. Many of us have spent time in meetings discussing curriculum, data, expectations, and school policies and procedures. We’ve sat in our classroom to see if it feels welcoming and ready for the first day of school. We are getting ready for meet the teacher by having forms and stations set up for families to participate in. Some of us are shopping for extra supplies for scholars who may not have what they need.

Two days in, and is it too late to think about a long weekend coming up? LOL.

Hopefully families will understand that we want to be everything for their kids. All while trying to be everything for our own families.

My goal this year is to find a balance between school, family, fitness, and personal time. You would think after 10 years I have it all figured out, but guess what….not many of us have it as together as we might seem.

So this year, I ask that you pray for all of us who are doing our best every day to be everything for everyone!

The Classroom is Ready

Today I went into school. I was meeting with my new partner teacher. I wanted to make sure she got a quick tour and saw where her room was, as well as where my room was. While I was there, I decided to get it set up. Fortunately for me, we have an amazing maintenance team who cleans and takes care of our school all summer. I was pleasantly surprised to find the desks and chairs set up in the room, rather than stacked against the wall. That made my job much easier.

As I think about the year ahead, I try to make the classroom inviting and peaceful. I have kept my beach theme for several years now, and it seems to fit. This year, I tweaked a few things, cleared a few things, adjusted some furniture, and now it is ready……ready for the 46 young minds that will walk in and sit down ready to see what we can accomplish for the 180 days we are together. For now, it is ready. I am sure it will change as the year goes on, and as we, the classroom community, decide it needs to change.

So, for now, welcome to Portable 10. I hope we can learn and grow and love each other along this journey that will be the 2019-2020 school year.

What summer has done for me……

Summer is sliding away. There are two weeks until we head back full time into planning and preparing for the school year ahead. Every year, I get excited to think about a new year and a fresh start, but I cannot lie, this summer spending time with family and friends has been everything to me.

I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about how to be a better teacher. I have analyzed data. But I have also spent time thinking about myself and what I need to be in the best mindframe possible to start a new school year. Reflection is so important. And what I realized is that it’s important for me to slow down and be present. I need to focus on living in the moment, rather than trying to always “capture” the moment. I have spent time with my son who is getting ready to go to college, with my daughter who is getting ready to start high school, and for the first time in about 18 years, I spent some much needed alone time with my husband. I feel very connected and present with my family. My mind feels clear, my heart feels full, and I feel so very blessed!

I am just getting back from a trip to Boston (which is home). But this time was different. Normally we go for vacation and we spend two weeks visiting friends, seeing favorite New England places, and eating all the food that we don’t get to eat in Florida. This year however; it was time to bring my mom home. She passed away last year, and her final wishes were to be buried with her family in Boston. We took the trip with heavy hearts, but knowing we were following her wishes. Although it was difficult saying goodbye again, it brings me some peace knowing she’s “home”. What a blessing to be able to share the experience with my family and with our family up North.

I’m looking forward to the next two weeks of continuing to make memories with the most important people in my life. And I will not let it slip away without giving thanks and being grateful. I hope everyone gets to take some time as I have to refresh, reflect, and renew.

Getting them to read in summer….Summer Reading Group

This year I decided to try something in the summer that I have never tried before, a summer reading group. At the end of the school year, I sent out a survey and 10/44 parents responded that they would like their child to participate in a summer reading group. HOW AWESOME!

We have met at the public library 4 times. The book we are reading is The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman. This choice was based on The Global Read Aloud 2019 book choices. Each year my scholars participate in The Global Read Aloud, and all seem to enjoy it. The Bridge Home is the book that my upcoming 5th grade scholars will be reading this year.

Honestly, because I have never run a summer reading group before, I am sure there is a better way to organize. However, each time we have met, we have talked about the “assigned” chapters, and the kiddos talk about what their thoughts are about the book, characters, etc. The book is set in India, and mostly covers the topics of family, poverty, homelessness, and other human rights issues. I don’t want to give too much away, but so far, my kids and even the parents have really enjoyed this book.

I would like to find a better way to get the kids to express their thoughts and connections about their reading, so I will continue to work on that. But for now, I am so happy that I have found a group of scholars and their supportive families to take time out of their summer to come talk to me about a common book, and to share what else they are reading. As we close out our meetings, I let them walk around and choose new books that they can bring home from the library to keep them engaged in reading while they are home.

For once, it’s not about their test scores, or how may questions they can answer correctly, or what project we will try to undertake. It’s just about a book, connecting us over the summer, making us think a little bit about the world around us, and for me sharing time with some awesome kids! I have no regrets about my summer reading group!

Mindfulness in the Classroom

I have practiced mindfulness throughout the years in my 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classrooms. I found mindfulness beneficial for me and figured it was something my scholars could benefit from as well.

The classroom today is a busy place, but so are school, home, and the world. Students very rarely know how to stop, sit still, or quietly in order to center and ground themselves in the present moment to become focused and prepared for the day or lesson ahead. They don’t always know how to self-monitor their emotions or stress level. Mindfulness can help.

Every year, students share with me that they find mindfulness to be a way to deal with emotions and also a way to get grounded, focused, and prepared for the time in my classroom. They sometimes ask for me to start their time with me with mindfulness even if it is just for a few minutes. I have also had many scholars reflect that mindfulness is something that they will take with them out into the world to help them with everyday life.

I see a definite shift in behavior and focus in my scholars when we practice mindfulness.

I led a lesson on mindfulness in the classroom for a group of teachers ranging in levels from elementary to high school, and we all agreed that it is something that can be used and beneficial for EVERY age group. It’s about creating a practice in the classroom through modeling and cultivating a safe environment where scholars are willing to let themselves become quiet and still. It can begin with learning about the breath, and how to monitor breathing to determine how they are feeling in the present moment. Focusing on the breath, and learning how to breathe deeply and intentionally can be the foundation for a healthy mindfulness practice.

I encourage all educators to learn more about the benefits of mindfulness for themselves and for their scholars.

Links to resources: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVA2N6tX2cg, https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/55583060/posts/3281, https://themindfulenglishclassroom.com/2019/04/05/how-to-introduce-mindfulness-into-the-classroom/, https://wordpress.com/read/search?q=mindfulness%20in%20the%20classroom&focus=1

A Little About Me

My name is Maryann Hilton. I am currently a 5th Grade ELA/SS teacher. I have been in the classroom for 11 years, and it is my second, maybe even third career. I graduated with an Accounting degree from Bentley College (now University) in 1995. Out of college I worked in the financial industry.

I married my high school sweetheart, Peter, in 1999, then moved to Florida in 2001 when I was pregnant with my son. My son Peter was born in June 2001, and my daughter Kassidy was born in September, 2004. So I guess you could say my second, and probably favorite career, was stay at home mom.

In 2008, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher. I wanted a career that would allow me time with my family during summer and holidays, etc. I became a certified teacher in 2009, and became a substitute teacher in my county. After a year of subbing, I was hired as a full time 2nd grade teacher at an amazing local charter school. I went back to school in 2012, and earned my Master’s in Education: Reading in 2014. I moved to a district school in 2015.

I have taught 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. My middle school years were brief, but I found my passion for teaching struggling readers!

My hope in creating this blog is to share my experience as a classroom teacher, and to also share my journey with anyone interested in the day to day life of a teacher.

My family and my faith are everything to me. Without them, I would not be the teacher/person I am today.

Thank you for joining me on my journey as a perfectly imperfect teacher.