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June 11, 2010 Saying Farewell as Your Grades 3-5 Advisor By Victoria Jasztal
Grades 3–5

    I wanted to take a few moments to take the time to thank you for visiting the Classroom Solutions weblog at Scholastic this past year. Being the grades 3-5 teacher advisor was a "dream come true" for me, as I have loved Scholastic since I indulged in The Baby-Sitters Club series as a child. Posting the weekly topics was an intriguing opportunity. Read more to read about this whirlwind of a year, from the time I found out I was going to be an advisor to the bittersweet departure yesterday.

    I found out I was going to be the 2009-2010 Scholastic teacher advisor for grades 3-5 in April 2009. I was actually asked in March because Angela Bunyi had found some resources on my website that she really enjoyed and she thought I would be a great asset. The honor in my heart was immense! Immediately, I responded to the e-mail with "Definitely? Are you kidding?", waiting patiently to see whether I was meant to have this opportunity in my life. When I found out, I literally screamed and danced around my house. I was heading to New York City in May to meet an incredible team of teachers, and Scholastic was incredibly accomodating. I was very blessed to meet Megan, Eric, Stacey, Justin, and the editors/other individuals who work with us. Even having a photo shoot was exciting; I never thought I would be a part of an "official" photo shoot!

    Pondering on what my first posts would be here was not difficult at all. It all started with The Nuts and Bolts of Classroom Organization. I remember how excited I was this past August to seperate my books into bins for the first time, and the entire year, it worked out wonderfully! When Open House approached, I made sure I knew every student's name and that (s)he felt welcome as a part of a classroom "family". August and September brought experiences from putting on a What Is History? presentation to preparing to make salt dough maps of Florida. We made edible cells and completed many collaborative activities getting to know one another.

    October, November, and December brought finishing the salt dough maps to dissecting owl pellets to incorporating Halloween science experiments to learning about community service by making hope chests for the cancer patients at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. We also were invited to decorate the Christmas tree at City Hall with our kindergarten Book Buddies, and we went on a field trip to the local environmental center, as other fourth grade classes in our district also do. The largest challenge for me was incorporating hands-on math, yet I feel I did pretty well in the long run. This next year will be even better!

    January 2010 was an ambitious month! I wrote my favorite post of the year, A New Year and Decade: A Stronger Teacher. I worked EXTREMELY hard to prepare my students for the FCAT, and I incorporated the plethora of ideas I posted to expose them to a variety of topics. I exposed my students to an incredible piece of historical fiction, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Electricity is what we studied in science, as we built different kinds of electrical circuits. February continued many of these studies, and we learned a great deal about Thomas Alva Edison. Eventually, state testing came in March, which led to our first major field trip to the Renaissance Festival in Tampa, Florida.

    From there, we also had the opportunity to go to Gainesville to see the University of Florida and the Florida Museum of Natural History. Eventually, the greatest of all field trips came for my students: the annual field trip to St. Augustine, which is special because I went to Flagler College from 2000-2004 and I enjoy exposing my students to the historical culture of the city.

    Of course, we learned a great deal of content. We wrote more stories, journal entries, and brochures than you will ever know. We learned about long division, two- by two-digit multiplication (as high as four-digit by two-digit multiplication with decimals), data analysis, different mathematical formulas, and an amazing span of topics in science. Probably the unit that went best was Force and Motion. We wrote reports about force and motion, the Renaissance and the human body as well as compiled research about our family trees. I watched my students emerge from reluctant writers to students who embraced writing as one of their favorite activities of all. They embraced all kinds of chapter and non-fiction books, gaining incredible knowledge, expanding their schemas. We studied text features, author's purpose, different types of non-fiction, and so much more. I remember expanding my students' understanding of current events, such as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill (which we may be directed affected by in the near future) as well as the earthquake in Haiti. We communicated with pen pals, wrote to the Departments of Tourism in different states, and recorded podcasts. All in all, it has been one incredible year.

    Yesterday was the last day of school; I bawled my eyes out at the very end because I told my students something very important, to never, ever give up on their hopes and dreams, that their hearts were the driving force in their lives. Additionally, I told them my oldest students were entering their sophomore year of high school and how one day I would be at their high school graduation. It was probably one of the more heartfelt speeches I ever gave because it was one of my most challenging years on many levels; so many pressures were put upon teachers to "perform well" and I exerted very long hours to ensure my students' successes.

    So where do I go from here? I will be starting a weblog called "A Day in the Life". Either it will be on my current domain,, or at a new domain that I will connect to it. Blogging here at Scholastic has gotten me stoked about the prospect of having a successful weblog. My photo album at Shutterfly has also been updated, and I will be working on a reading-related website over the summer that will have technology-related center activities on it. I am also embarking on an incredible adventure this coming year that I cannot disclose as of yet, but you will be able to read about it often at "A Day in the Life".

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support! I hope to remain in contact with many of you who have supported this weblog this past year. Please do not hesitate to contact me through my domain. I hope you have a sensational summer break and that your coming year is incredibly successful. I wish the very best to the upcoming advisors as well.

    I will end with a quote from Winston Churchill: "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities... because it is the quality which guarantees all others." 










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