Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Please Welcome Greta Cutrell, Guest Teacher-Author

Who Is The 9th Inning Teacher?

   Hello there!  My name is Greta Cutrell and I am a fourth grade teacher in Columbia, North Carolina.  I am currently in my fourteenth year of teaching and love it just as much as I did the day I began.  I was born into a family of educators, so it was the natural path for me to take. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to teach and spent much time in my aunt’s classroom as a high school intern. I have enjoyed having a classroom of my own since then!  When not teaching, I love enjoying time on the beach, reading, blogging, and of course, creating products for my students and TpT store!  I would love to have you connect with me! 

Primary No More, I’ve Moved to Grade FOUR!
    That’s right, for the first time in 13 years I can no longer call myself a second grade teacher.  I am now on the intermediate hall busy as can be with my fourth graders!  Each day I find something different to love about fourth grade.  Of course, with every new experience, there are always challenges. This year, I have 28 vibrant students who absolutely love learning. Sidebar: I’ve never taught that many children. So, at first I was really nervous…. especially about how I was going to make my Math and Literacy Centers work – and not just work, but work effectively, while meeting the needs of the one group I would be working with at my teaching table. 


Learning Centers and Assessments 
   I can finally and proudly say that we are off to a good start with our centers. The students are used to their groups expectations, know the rules, and they transition beautifully.  Now, I am not saying AT ALL that this happened overnight… remember, with 28 students. it took a lot of modeling and practicing. There are still some things we are working on, but from what I can tell, the students are learning and having a blast working together on their skills and content.

   One colleague recently asked me, “How do you make the students accountable for what they are doing in the centers?” A good question indeed for those who are not familiar with center activities.  Sometimes, my students have recording sheets. Other times, I have dry-erase activities where the students simply flash the work at me while I am working with other students. (Most of the time this is something simple that I can scan over). The students know that a nod from me means “correct” and if I shake my head, they know to return to try again. Simple enough, right?  It works for me, while some teachers might need to concrete proof. You have to find what works for YOU as the teacher!

 Literacy Centers
   Students work on anything from writing, grammar, sentence formation, and actual literacy skills they are learning for that particular week. Just like with the math centers, I listen to them as they explain and work together to find the answers to the tasks they are working on.

Technology Center
Students here are immersed in literature by way of the awesome website, EPIC on their Chromebooks.  EPIC is the greatest thing since a slice of bread…. and let me tell you why! Teachers can assign supplemental reading activities to students as a group or individually based on what is being learned in the classroom. For example, this past week we learned about animal adaptations during our science time. I found books on EPIC, assigned them to my students to read, and created a short quiz for them to take. After they complete their assignment, they have time to browse for books and read something of their choice!
Math Centers
   Here, students are working on concepts that have previously been taught. The math centers serve as a great “check for understanding” informal assessments. I get to interact on a more personal level with the students when they work together in their centers. It is a time when THEY take the lead  and explain to me what they are doing in their center. I get to be the one who listens and asks questions.  I love it!

   So, my friends, the bottom line is this: Literacy and Math Centers can be a very effective (and fun) way of assessing student understanding of the concepts you have been teaching!

                                                                         Best, 
                                                                         Greta


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Blog:  9thinningteacher.blogspot.com
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