Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday - Teacher Week

Ahhhh.......after a long hot, day in the classroom, we often need a pick-me-up!  That's the theme for today's edition of Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'.
The first thing I do upon returning home everyday is take my little lovebug, my dog Berkeley, for a walk. I live in a neighborhood that has lots of trees, so walking him and watching how much he enjoys the sights (and smells) of the neighborhood lightens up my mood.
One of the must-dos on my back to school list is to get a pedicure!  It's fun to wear all the cute summer clothes I have collected at sales throughout the summer, and it won't be long before every foot in Wisconsin is covered in a big, heavy boot, so I savor the last few weeks of sandal-wearing.
And another thing I might do to relax is to sit on my patio in my backyard and read the newspaper.  I just love summer and fall, and I have big trees and flowers in the backyard that bring on peace of mind. Ahh......

What do you recommend for Therapeutic Thursday?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Teacher Week - Technology Tip Tuesday

I have learned so much about technology in the last two years!  Using an Interwrite Board and iPads in the classroom has really changed the way I teach, and the way the students learn.  Although I have much more to learn (and am learning a LOT from the others who have joined up on this party), I thought I could share what I know about Edmodo.  Out district has adopted Edmodo has the vehicle for blogging with our students.  I have had just a small amount of training with this site, but know my students will love it!

Sorry - it's really hard to see - I snapped a picture with my iPad and sent it to my laptop, and the pic became distorted on its journey through cyberspace.  With Edmodo, students can respond to posted questions, and I plan to post questions about literature that the students have read.  Also, teachers can post polls, quizzes, and assignments.  Students can access this site at home, and from what I understand parents can access it, too, but only to see what their child has posted.

I plan to visit this site during our last 10 minutes in the computer lab each week, and assign a "Blogger" job on our Helpers chart.  This would be in addition to the comments they can make at home.

Join in the group for Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Packer Training Camp

Are you ready for some football?  Well, I am, and so are most of the people here in Wisconsin!  We just love our Green Bay Packers.  A friend and I went to a training camp practice on Sunday (I live just 30 minutes from Green Bay), but it started to rain buckets just as we sat down in the stands.  We had seen about 10 minutes of drills and then ran to the car to dry off.  We went to some nearby shops and then returned an hour later so we could see the players come back to Lambeau Field with kids on their bikes.
The Packer players have a tradition of using a kid's bike to get from Lambeau to the practice field, which is a distance of about a half a mile.  Dozens of kids line up hoping that a player will pick them and their bikes for the trek to the field.  It is adorable to watch because players might come by riding a tiny pink bike with a little girl holding their helmet.  The players often chat with the kids as they travel. 

The amazing Clay Matthews!
After practice the players have more time to stop and sign autographs.  My friend had a Sharpie in her purse and I had picked up a small megaphone at a promotional tent so we decided to see what we could get.  We got one from Dom Capers (defense coach), Graham Harrell (back-up quarterback), Derrick Sharrod (first round draft choice last year), and this hottie that we didn't know but said his mom was a teacher.
 At the practice they give out fans with the players' heads on them.  Last year I got quite a collection, and decided to use them in my clasroom to help with our behavior program.  They were a hit!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Storia App, and You Know It's School When...

You may have figured out that I love a good linky party, and today is no exception!  I am joining Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle to reveal what life is like as school starts.
Yes, I was awake in the wee hours of the morning last night, and I don't even start school until August 27th.  I haven't spent much time at school, and it suddenly hit me how much I have to do.  I actually got up around 4 AM and went to the laptop to record some things that were buzzing through my mind.  Luckily I was able to get a couple of hours of sleep in after those thoughts were off my chest.

I love it when my former students drop by on Back-to-School night.  They are quick to offer a hug, and it just warms my heart.  And it's even nice to see the ones who gave you trouble, because you know they're someones else's headache now - bless their heart.

Now - I wanted to share a great App I found recently. It's called Storia, and it's put out by Scholastic.  Books are downloaded to this App, and you can set up a list of books for each child in your class to read.  I plan to use it during "Read to Self" time, and students will take turn using the iPad.  You can assign books to student's bookshelves that match their reading level.
I got 10 books for free at the beginning, and I think you can order books to add with the points you earn through student book orders.

After the students have read, a report is available to the teacher about how many minutes the child read, and if they used the included dictionary.
Some of the books even include read and respond activities that the students complete.  This was from one of my free books - it's a lot like the book called Apple Fractions, but it's also interactive.
I think my students will love this App!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Jitters Linky Party

Hello All -

Jessica at A Turn to Learn is having a Back to School Jitters Linky Party and I have joined in with my feelings about the upcoming school year.  We do not start until August 27, and the students come on September 4th, but school has surely been on my mind as the days creep closer.
As I have mentioned before on my blog, I wrote a grant for an iPad, and took a class this summer on apps that can used in the classroom.  I think the iPad will be a complete hit with my third graders!

In my previous post I wrote about planning for our new reading curriculum.  It's been a source of anxiety for many in my district.  I'm sure it will all come together but it doesn't stop the worrying.

During the recent reading training, we also found out that the third graders are expected to be blogging about books.  I am psyched for this!  Again, I know my students will love it.

I attended the Mickelson/ExxonMobil Teachers Academy this summer, and met many awesome educators.  We have a Facebook group, and are constantly messaging each other.  I hope to have time to continue those connections.

Check out Jessica's blog and join in her linky!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Planning Time and BTS Joke Activity

Jessica at Mrs. Standford's Class is having a combination Linky and Giveaway party! 

This linky about planning is very timely for me.  Last week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday teachers in my district had training to do planning for our new Communication Arts Curriculum.  Our district purchased an online system for storing lessons, and this system is tied the Common Core standards.  While this may be a good idea in theory, it has proven to be upsetting overwhelming because we are having to write every single lesson for every grade level for the entire year.  Here is what part of a sample page looks like:
Really inviting, huh? (NOT)  We have so many questions.  At this point we can not print any of the lessons that we have created, so we're wondering if we'll be running back and forth to our computers to remind ourselves what we're doing throughout the lessons.  Oh - and did I mention that after three days we are planned until the end of September, and have zilch in place for the 8 months after that.  We have no reading series, but are using the workshop model.  Luckily I have some experience under my belt and have a few reading tricks up my sleeve to fall back on.

We also have a revised math curriculum this year, and I am piloting a new science unit for the three third grade classes.  My life as I know it will be over come September 4.

On a lighter note, last year when I sent my welcome back to school letter I asked the students to come with a joke to share.  They copied and illustrated a favorite joke, and read it to the class on the afternoon of the first day.  Then, we used our computer lab time to type up the jokes, added the illustrations, and put them together to create a class book.  It was a favorite read throughout the year!
You can find a copy of the letter and joke template on Scribd here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Monday Made It - Literature Circles Chart

It's time for Monday Made It again with Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics.  The item I put together over the weekend is a chart I plan to post in my classroom for students to refer to as they work in Literature Circle groups.  The talking points were ones that my second and third graders from last school year had suggested.  I had written them down, and finally got around to posting them on a chart that I had gotten from VistaPrint.
Also, I was at Walgreens today picking up some "old school pictures" in the photo department, and thought I'd stop by the school supply aisle.  And what do I find on sale but the small spiral notebooks I use for what I call "Math Pads".  They were six for a dollar.  Awesome! 
Cute, nosy dog just had to be in the picture!
When I begin Math everyday the students grab their math pads, and we do a review of skills through items posted on my calendar wall.  I used to have a calendar "helper" who would update things on the board, and the rest of the class was, for the most part, not listening or paying attention.  So for the last few years, I've had everyone review skills in math pads as the calendar helper updated things on the board.  It's worked like a charm, and their math scores have improved, too!
My math wall from last year - sorry, a bit blurry.

I plan to put  name labels on the notepads, and will show the completed project when I finish them!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Currently August!

It's August, and I'm joining up with Farley for the latest edition of Currently!

Click on her button to join in on the fun!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wednesday Made It - Mystery Box

I am finally joining the crew of creative teachers on Tara's blog at Fourth Grade Frolics who have posted about nifty little items they've made for their classrooms.  About two weeks ago I came across a box at the Hallmark store that was marked down to $2.50 because of small nick on the top.  Back in late June I had discovered some polka-dot packing tape on the clearance rack at JoAnn Fabrics for about $0.80!  When I saw the box, I got a brainstorm about decorating it with the packing tape.
I often use a "mystery box" to introduce a new unit or concept to my students.  For example, when we start a unit on Maps, I put a map in the box, and the students have to ask me questions to find out what's in the box.  It's sort of like 20 questions, but I don't always limit the number of questions to 20.  The directions I give to the students for this activity are:

     1. The questions they ask me must have a yes or no answer, like - Do you use it inside a house?
     2. They must listen to each others' questions and answers to find out what's in the box.
     3. I suggest they try to find out properties of the item, rather than just guessing about it being specific items like - Is it a pencil?
     4. The person who guesses correctly gets to keep the item on their desk for the rest of the day.

At times, the students have become frustrated, and I remember someone asking once if I would just tell them what it was, but I always review what they've learned so far from the answers to the questions.  And you might want to "veer" them in the right direction with a little clue if needed.

I've put a thermometer in the box when beginning a study on weather, or chopsticks when  studying Japan - anything with a link to the unit would be suitable.  The students are very engaged and interested with this kind of kick-off to a unit.

Anyway - here is how my new Mystery Box turned out.  I added some letter stickers that I had to the side: