Thursday, July 24, 2014

Long Range Plan - For Parents!


I follow a blog - http://gingersnapstreatsforteachers.blogspot.com/ and she posted her long range plans this morning and I LOVED the format...which she provides for free (you do have to download some fonts to view it correctly but I believe those are free as well). 

My favorite was the "Year at a Glance" that she provides to parents at the beginning of the year (which is what I really liked and think it's a fabulous idea). 

I'm pass it along in case folks are working on their LRP's this summer :) 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back-To-School Presentation








Last year I made an “about me” presentation that I used when introducing myself to teachers and students. The goal was to show teachers and students how they could easily create one on their own using the Promethean software our district has.

Since a lot of my readers do not have Promethean software I created two tutorials highlighting how to make this easy back-to-school presentation. The first is using Promethean’s ActivInspire software and the second using PowerPoint - both are around 5 minutes.  

As you can see, it is a fairly simple process. I've done this project with third graders on up and they catch on fairly quickly (and they like it a lot better then being forced to write a paper about their summer vacation). I do make them type details about their picture (so there is some writing involved) and I limit them to one piece of clipart from the internet…otherwise the process gets bogged down by picture searching. When they are done I either let them share whole group or within their table groups.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comment area below and I will do my best to answer them.

Enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Goal List to Research Template







I saw a goal list on Pinterst (see first picture) and I thought it would make a good research collection template for students (what student wouldn't love working with post-it notes!). I created a template for upper grade levels (collection of six facts - using 11x17 paper) and a template for lower grade levels (collection of four facts - using 8 1/2 x 11 paper). 

I printed out 24 copies of each on card stock and laminated them. I worked with third graders using them to collect biographically information for a black history project and with first graders collecting facts about habitat specific animals. 

The idea, in my mind at least, was that these collection boards would allow for more research and collection opportunities in the classroom...other then the typical 1-2 a year. 

Here is what I learned...

1. The third graders really didn't know how to gather pertinent information. They were a bit all over the board with their facts so I had to direct them a bit (see 3rd picture). I posted sample collection boards ranging from grade of A - D and we went over how what made each one better then the next.

2. Kids argued about the color of their post-it notes (should have seen that one coming!). It's best to give them only one color.

3. The post-it notes came off over time. Since this was a project over time this was a problem (they had a couple of days to collect their data and then a couple of days to sketch out their rough draft and then a couple of days to finalize their project). I worked with 3rd graders first and decided fast that it wouldn't work with the 1st graders. For them I just printed out the sheets on regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper - no post-its for them (they liked the boxing of information so it wasn't a total bust - they also needed a "how to" of collecting facts lesson). FYI - The earlier finishers were then able to turn over their paper and draw a picture of their animal in their habitat which they wouldn't have been able to do on a laminated template. 

Overall I would use the templates again primarily as a "fun" way to collect information. If you are interested in the templates I created they can be downloaded for free on my TeachersPayTeachers site -  11x17 template or 8.5x11 template

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Classroom Management - New YouTube Favorite


Classroom management is the hardest lesson that teachers learn...and sadly it can't be learned in college...it is certainly "talked about" but the only way to learn this one is on the job (sorry new teachers...on the plus side it gets better :).

It has been my experience that new teachers can learn any content with some degree of confidence...find a lesson and support material without too much difficult...and deliver it with authority. It is when you throw in the kids where everything gets tripped up :)

My first year as a science teacher with no science background I felt pretty good about if I could stay one day ahead of my pacing guide... for example, I had no idea what a dichotomous key was until the week before I had to teach it...um...let alone pronounce it :) but I powered through the content like a champ however, I struggled with the students. I invited seasoned teachers (that I like and respected) to come in and give advice and I went and observed them during my planning periods. It was a rough first year. FYI - sometimes you have other teachers offering up help that do not match your teaching style so its important to find those "like and respect" teachers quickly and know how to get rid of the others.

With several years under my belt and lots of classroom experience I can pretty much walk into a classroom and be fine...for the most part...sometimes the universe likes to remind me not to become too complacent :).

I recently ran across this classroom management video through a blog I follow and I loved it!!!!! The teacher is funny, engaging, and best of all...realistic. I would make this mandatory viewing for all teachers.

The points from the video that resonated with me were:

1. Model the "craycray" - I do that in the classroom during my first days of schools and the kids LOVE it (The teacher acting crazy?!?! What?!?!). My favorite craycray skit is simply titled "the bathroom". I model what I don't every want to hear/see when someone exits the bathroom...I was lucky to have one in the room and you can imagine what came out of fourth grad mouths.
2. Be careful of the "spill over" - I was a departmentalized teacher and often my troubles were "spill overs" from other classes. I learned quickly to engage students THE MOMENT they walked in the classroom.
3. "Snitches Get Stiches" - If I had to call a parent or write up a child you can pretty much guarantee that I exhausted every possible means in my power. Not because I was afraid of the parent but because most things can be handled "in house." Teachers who are ALWAYS calling a parent or writing up a child pretty much scream "I can't handle them" to everyone else.
4. "Hall-acostations" - This was just a cool term for quizzing kids in the halls between classes to keep them on their toes.
5. Don't take it personally and don't engage in a power struggle - I've seen grown teachers argue with 10 year olds (it happens to the best of us and I'm not going to lie... it is super easy to let your inner 10 year old come out). If you find yourself arguing with a child...stop...stop immediately. You.will.never.win. The moment you engage you have lost. I know several teacher who are unable to recognize they are even doing it...and it is painful to watch...for them and for the student.

There were lots of other good things in the 11 minute video...so pull up a chair and prepare to be entertained!

Direct link to the video can be found by clicking HERE.

Professional Development Grant



I recently had the opportunity to attend ISTE's (International Society of Technology Educators) national conference in Atlanta. One of the perks was chatting and meeting new people. I happened to meet the teacher pictured above while waiting for a session on how to create games/advanced actions in PowerPoint (great session by the way!). We bonded over her nails (hence her hand position in the picture - they were Jamberry Nails and a friend of mine started to selling them so they stood out :)

While we were chatting she said that she wrote a grant to attend the conference (she was from Oklahoma). Apparently this grant (Fund for Teachers) paid for EVERYTHING...including her laptop, laptop bag, etc. She wrote everything she would need for the conference into the grant (I want to say the total grant she wrote was for $3,000). This was super impressive. She said in the grand scheme of things she thought small. Apparently a person wrote a grant to study programming using Scratch software...in Spain! 

She is blocked for applying for another grant for three years but she said watch out in year three :).

Sadly I am ineligible to apply for a grant because 50% of your direct instruction time needs to be with children. I'm close to that number as a tech coach but not quite there. At the moment (and I know I am thinking "small" in terms of location) I would love to attend the professional development offered through the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. They were featured in the Promethean booth at ISTE and I was super impressed by the demonstrated lessons and use of technology (one day...sigh! #ihatebudgetcuts).

The grant cycle opens up in October but I thought the summer was a great time to start thinking BIG in terms of what might be of interest to teachers (Galapagos anyone?). 

Here is the link to the site for anyone interested - http://www.fundforteachers.org/

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Door Decorations



I thought these two classroom doors were too cute not to share. This is in a school with a school wide nautical theme and the top one was for Browder's Beacons and the second was for Porter's Pirates. 

For the pirate one she used contact paper for the black parts and a plastic table top for the bandanna. 

For the beacon one she used yellow and red bulletin board paper outlined in black electrical tape. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Power of Positive Thinking Activity




I ran into this project walking the halls at one of the schools I go to. It was done in Leslie Larussas' fourth grade class as a creative writing piece. The students were to take one negative thought they had and find three positives within it. 

I love love love this assignment! What a great way to teach children to turn their thinking around (I know several adults who need to do this assignment...on a daily basis :)

She took pictures of the kids thinking and they created speech bubbles around themselves. She let the kids color it...which made some of them hard to read but they were all really good negative-to-positive examples. 

Since I am a technology coach I looked for a way that the project could be done on the computer hence the last picture (FYI - our district is going to 1-1 iPads in grades 3-5 next year so the last project was done using an app called educreations as an example.)  It was inspired because I had just finished the couch to 5K app and was heading to a school sponsored 5K. I took my negative thought about running in it and turned it into the three positives that you see written above.