Saturday, September 29, 2012

Need a Support Group?

Sometimes, I feel like I need a support group for things in my classroom.  For things like technology, especially.  There are days where the technology is glitch free and works beautifully, and then there are days where I think it is all possessed.  On days like that, it throws my groove off and my kids feel it too. 

I'm pushing myself to really create iPad opportunities each day in my room, but I've got to be honest, sometimes it is really hard.  I know the potential that the device has, but I can't wrap my mind around how this whole turning in work, going paperless, sending grades world fits in with the iPad.  We've been using Evernote (hate it, by the way) as a note taking tool, Skitch to annotate on graphic organizers, but I don't have a word processing app to type finished writing assignments or something to generate work to put on display in the hallway. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my iPads!  But, some days, I need help.  So, I decided to create a group on Edmodo (another piece of technology that I'm forcing myself to become fluent in) for others like me that may need a little help or some great ideas.  If you want to join, sign in to Edmodo.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Steal the Bacon...iPad Style

Growing up I remember playing "Steal the Bacon" during rainy day recess.  It was one of my favorite games as a child.  There was nothing special about it, other than the simple fact that we were allowed to run in the classroom.  Desks were pushed to the edges of the room and the floor was made clear of obstacles.  The teacher would divide the class into 4 groups and assign us a corner.  Then 4 erasers were placed in the center of the room.  The task was for each team to send a representative to retrieve the eraser, return to the line to hand it off to the next person who would leave it in the center, the next would retrieve, etc. until all members of the team had made their run and the entire team was seated.  The team seated first was declared the champion.

Well, this past week I took full advantage of a large room, energetic kids, and our iPads.  We modified "Steal the Bacon" and made it a learning opportunity.  I used my ActivInspire software for my Promethean board to create a self-paced quiz using the Math generator.  50 basic facts were entered into the flipchart.  4 iPads were chosen to serve as our "bacon."  The kids were divided into 4 teams and the fun began.

Each team raced to the center of the room to answer a multiplication fact, hit the send button, and tag the next person.  The team with the most correct answers was declared the winner.


*I made sure that students understood the value of the iPad before the game began.
*I focused on the correctness, not the time.
*Students began talking about what the answers were if it was one that was difficult.
*Students showed a 50% improvement on the multiplication math quiz we did the next day.

The idea was not mine originally.  I watched a video from The Ron Clark Academy this week and stole it from him.  You can watch the video here:   The Ron Clark Academy ActivClassroom: Top 10 Ways 

**Updated to add video of the game.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Carolina Girls Really Are the Best

Yesterday I made the trek down to Columbia, SC - not in South America - to meet up with a group of fantabulous teacher bloggers.  I had a great time getting to know everyone and hearing stories of classrooms all over the place.  It was great talking with a group of people that understood the frustrations of the classroom, got the simple aha! moments, and appreciated all of the time and effort that it takes to be successful on a daily basis.  I love talking with other teachers.  I'm sure my husband appreciates me doing that too.

Thank you to Hope  for organizing the whole shindig, Ginger for driving us down, and Lacie and Rachel for much needed laughter and sarcasm! 

In attendance {make sure you follow their blogs for fabulous ideas--no matter what grade it is!}: from left to right- sort of! Autumn, Ashley, and Tammy from Fanatical in First Grade
Kim (starting her blog soon, right Kim?!?)
Ginger from Gingersnaps Treats for Teachers
Elizabeth from Fun in 4B
Gretchen from Always a Lesson
Hope from 2nd Grade Shenanigans
Dana from 3rd Grade Gridiron
Shasta from The Loop
Heather and Juli from Simple In Second
Amanda from Teaching Maddeness
Amber from Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher
Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher
Elisabeth from Twins, Teaching and Tacos
Rebecca from Landing in K
Natalie from Teachery Tidbits
Lacie from Polka Dots & Pencils

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tech on Tuesday

Another great little app that we've been using in class is Popplet Lite. This is a graphic organizer app that is easy peasy for kids and teachers to master quickly.

This week we have used it to make inferences and observations about primary source documents in social studies, create character maps, and story maps for our novel study.

Things I love:
1. You can import pictures directly into the app from your camera roll or take them within the app.

2. Students can export the file using email in one tap.

3. You can type or write with your finger or a stylus.

4. It is FREE!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Where Oh Where Have I Been....

Last week was our first full week of school.  I came home EVERY afternoon and worked my fanny off to get things ready for each day.  I'm not back into the routine yet, hope to be soon!  Our first few days were amazing!  I have been blessed with 24 kids who are respectful, creative, and are excited to be at school.  I am thrilled to have had such a good start.  We spent our first week doing many team building activities.  One of my favorites is "Save Fred."  I wish that I could remember where I saw this idea, but I've been doing it for the last four years and I have no idea where the original idea came from.  I know it is not mine though.  This activity fits in perfectly with my school's approach to learning.  We are a problem based school (very different than project based learning) and focus on building fluent thinkers.  Our curriculum is engineering based and this was the perfect activity to begin building those thinking skills.

This year we decided to try a new behavior incentive in 4th grade.  Our inspiration was Harry Potter.  We sorted our students into scientific laboratories.  Students gathered around the wheel of fate and anxiously awaited their lab.  Throughout the year, students earn tokens for their labs for creative thinking, respect, random acts of kindness, etc.  The lab with the most tokens at the end of the year will have an elaborate banquet. 

We chose Thomas Edison's lab at Menlo Park, George Washington Carver's lab at Tuskegee University, and Edwin Armstrong's lab at Columbia University.  To give students knowledge about each lab, we built non-fiction reading into our guided reading last week.  Students were given a biographical sketch about each scientist.  We broke it down paragraph by paragraph and chose the most important word in each paragraph.  Each word was written on a post-it note.  After we wrote all of the words down, students then used the words to create a summary of the text.  These summaries were published in Notes using our iPads.

I'm also linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade today for her Currently feature.  I love this little post each month.  I do apologize for my sloppiness.  I am totally being lazy today and did not feel like grabbing my  MAC or getting the stylus for my iPad.  So, I used my finger to write and oh boy can you tell.  Sorry.

There is nothing better than having a lazy Monday to finish up a few last minute things.  I am a huge fan of One Tree Hill and enjoy watching the reruns.  When I work on the weekends I have it or 90210 going in the background.

I LOVE the laziness of a day off from school.  I went to breakfast with the hubs and we have just been chillaxin' on the couch.  Hubs is napping off the big breakfast and I am snuggled with little bit on the couch.

I have a TON to do as team leader this year - field trips to be booked, curriculum night presentations to write, iPad trainings to plan, etc.  I'm loving it, but my to do list is HUGE>

I want to plan the PERFECT getaway with my hubby soon.  We work like dogs and need a restful vacation, even if it is just to the beach.  We are talking about planning a wow vacation for our 15th anniversary next year.  I would love to go to Europe, but don't know if we can swing it. 

I went shopping this weekend - thanks, Cheney! - and racked up on great pants and tops, but I NEED a good, stylish pair of comfortable shoes.  I teach on the 3rd floor of our building - everything we travel to is on the first floor.  I walk up and down the stairs probably 30 times a day easily.  Here's to having rock solid glutes by the end of the year and losing a few pounds. But, until then, I need a good pair of shoes.  I wll not compromise comfort for style though.  They must be cute!

Favorite Things:
1.  My new navy pants - I found a great pair of Westbound pants at Dillards this weekend.  They are kind of stretchy, but have structure so they fall just right.  The best part - they were only $30.

2.  I discovered author Stephanie Bond this summer.  She writes in a style similar to Janet Evanovich.  I'm reading her series right now and I LOVE it.  The only thing that is frustrating is the fact that my library will not let me return the ebooks as I finish them.  I have to wait until my checkout period is over.  I finished one in 2 days and have to wait the full 7 until I can check out another.  Ugh!

3.  I'm loving The Beatles right now!  Friday afternoon I turned my Pandora channel on and ran it through the Promethean board speakers.  I was totally busted belting out "Hey Jude."  Hoping to get the Greatest Hits soon.