Saturday, August 23, 2014

Five for Friday...{Saturday Edition}

Wow!  All I can say is thank you for the weekend!  This was our first week of school and I am worn slap out.  I only had students for 3 days, but they were jam packed and action filled.

I'm teaching 5th grade this year at an elementary engineering school.  It's amazing to say the least.  Students participate in some pretty spectacular projects and programs throughout the year.  It's hard not to be jealous that I didn't have an education like I am a part of now.

I'm fortunate to be where I am and will never take it for granted again.  So thankful that I cried buckets as students arrived on the first day.  I was an emotional wreck.  Here is a glimpse of what I experienced below. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching this week!

 This was the scene on the first day of school for our kiddos.  High school cheerleaders lined our sidewalk and cheered students as they exited their cars.  When the front doors were open, students were greeted with a beach ball arch and teachers lined up all the way to the stairway with pom-poms.  DJ JDEW was on the scene with upbeat tunes - "Happy," "Timber," and much more.  When our 4th and 5th graders made their way to the 3rd floor, they were greeted with a "highway," scooters, and "Life is a Highway" blaring out of the speakers.  We wanted them to grasp the handlebars of success this year.  The other floors had limbo bars and monkey bars to welcome grades K-3.

 The Red Cup Challenge was a hit in my classroom on the first day!  I have no idea the source for this activity, so if it is you, please know that I want to give you credit.  Students were provided with 6 red solo cups, one rubber band, and as many strings as people in their group.  My kids were divided into groups of 4 and 5.  The cups started in the following position.

Students were not allowed to touch the cups or the rubber hand with their hands, but had to create a pyramid with 3 cups on the bottom row, 2 on the middle, and 1 on top in under 10 minutes.

The entire point of the activity for me was to elicit discussion afterward about what it took to be successful when working with a group.  Some students figured it out immediately.  I had one group that had a loophole and bunched all of their string up and grabbed each cup with it.  They told me, "It fit your requirements, we aren't touching the cup."  Hmph! Other groups constructed a device to grab a cup and place it into the final formation.

 On Friday I received an email that made my day...

Really?!  Did they realize that this was the ultimate career dream for me???  Two years ago I was able to see Ron Clark in person and be his personal escort at an event....loved him!  This year I get to visit.  I am still in shock.  What makes it even better, I get to see my blog friend Hope King over at Elementary Shenanigans. If you haven't checked her out, run now!
 Roller Coaster engineering happened in my room this week!  Whew!  That is partially why I am exhausted.  Engineering wears me out mentally because I'm having to challenge my students' thinking and push them hard.  I was having conversations with my 5th graders about the benefits of trusses built from straws versus vertical support systems.  My kiddos were using phrases like, "the distribution of the weight," "more stress would be on the vertical supports," etc.  Wow!

My gal Amanda over at Teaching Maddeness posted a pic of cardstock from Michael's today.  It was on sale 5 for $10. I went immediately because Michael's is just 1 mile from my house (no lie) and bought them out!  That will make creating word wall words on different colored cardstock much easier! Thanks, Amanda! Go read her blog as well!  I wish I was more like Hope and Amanda every day!

See ya next week!  Hope it's a good one,  ya'll!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Teacher Digs

It's taken awhile, but my room is finally complete!  Good thing because students arrived today!  As always, I was tweaking until the last minute, so even these pics are out of date already!

This is year 15 for me.  I've tried to do themes throughout my career, but I've found them too hard to keep up with and maintain.  So, I've settled on bright colors.  It makes my room happy for me, especially after some of those days we all have where all we want to do is close the door and have a moment.

Blog Hoppin' is hosting Teacher's Week this week, so I'm sharing my home away from home there with a ton of other teachers!  Make sure you head there to see all of the other great spaces!

This is my door from the hallway!  My dear husband took a pic of me in the yard on Sunday afternoon and I added it to the balloons.  Since then I've added signage that says, "Reaching New Heights with Mrs. Looper."

In the windows beside the door, I have happy memories of years gone by.  That picture of the nerds is one of my favorite teams.  

And this...this is me in the 5th grade.  Whew!  Terrible

I'm focusing on geography as an underlying skill with my 5th graders.  So, each time we read a book, or study an area in Social Studies, we have a little robot named AJ that we will move around the maps.

Instead of a list of jobs that I have to keep up with each week, I've divided my kids in half and 2 kids get to do everything!  Those are Pantone paint chips from Lowe's on book rings.

 Our school is an engineering school, so everything we do utilizes the steps of the Engineering Design Process.

  My back counter set up for Meet the Teacher yesterday.  The tops of my cabinets have foam board covered in fabric to hold student work.

School wide behavior guide - GEAR
Give Your Best
Exercise Smart Problem Solving
Act Responsibly
Respect Yourself and Others

Check out these fabulous pencils my husband made from balsa wood.  Aren't they great!

This is the whole board.  The Editor's Checklist will be added soon.

My status of the class.  Students move their number to the pizza pan that reflects the step of the writing process they are working on.
I've sprinkled my expectations and school rules around the room so students will always see it.

Word Wall Words and Cubbies

 Student Work Center and the What Stuck With You poster

The Calendar math board and reading group chalkboard.

Guided Reading Table

 View from the back of the room.

See ya over at Blog Hoppin!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Google Apps: Slides

Last week I shared my love for all things Google and focused primarily on Google Forms.  This week to continue our Google Apps focus, we're focusing on Google Slides.  If you are a Power Point friend, Google Slides will be an easy transition.

Just like last week, we are going to start by signing into Google. Once you've done that, click on the 3x3 tiles..
Depending on how often you use Google Apps, your menu may look different than mine.  I had to click on "Even more from Google" to get to Google Slides.

Once you have entered the main page of Google, scroll down to the Home/Office section and click "Slides."

You'll then be presented with the start screen.  You will see previously created Slides presentations or those that were shared with you.  Continue to work on these, or click the + on the bottom right to create a new presentation.

Next choose a theme.  These are pretty basic, but you do have the option to import a theme. This can be a Power Point presentation theme that you have used.  Just save it as blank slides. 

Once you have chosen your theme, the screen looks very similar to Power Point.  

  1. This button will take you directly back to the start screen.
  2. Click here to name your presentation.
  3. Click the + sign to add slides.
  4. If you want to add comments to a presentation that you have created or one that has been shared, do so by clicking here.
The rest is pretty self explanatory.  

Background allows you to change the colors of backgrounds. Layout lets you choose different organization templates for your slides, and transition is where you go to change how one slide changes to another.  

I love Google Slides! It's pretty easy to start and finish a simple presentation in a short amount of time, making it perfect for classroom use.  I like that there aren't a ton of options that students would get bogged down with and lose focus.  My favorite feature is the automatic saving.  How many times have we all had those students who forget to save their work and then lose it all?! 

Happy First Day to School!  We start tomorrow with kiddos!  Looking forward to seeing how you use Google Slides this year!

Who Am I?

It's 5:30 am on a Monday and I'm sitting here getting a blog post together today because I know that I'll forget it if I don't.  Blog Hoppin' is hosting Teacher's Week this week.  This week is my favorite because I get to learn so much about my blog friends.  Isn't it amazing the community that has been created with so many people we haven't met face to face?! I love it!

I feel like most of you already know many of the things I would normally share, so I had to dig a little deeper here. For those of you who are fairly new...

My name is Shasta Looper and this year I am teaching 5th grade in South Carolina. This is my 15th year of teaching.  Whew!  It seems like it was just yesterday that I entered into a portable building at Puget Sound Christian School with a group of 19 2nd/3rd graders.  Those babies graduated a few years back.  If I only knew then what I know now....

A couple of years back I had the privilege to play host to Ron Clark for a day when he came to my district.  It was an amazing time and I feel so lucky for having one on one time with him.  I've followed him for years - before he started the Ron Clark Academy and just as he was winning Disney Teacher of the Year.  This will always be one of my favorite teacher memories.

I've been married to my husband, Cheney, for a little over 16 years.  We met in Alaska in 1996 and wrote letters for about 9 months.  We had one date and were engaged the next day.  So, we are a testament to the long distance relationship.  We have not been blessed with biological children, but have one little furry child, Taku, our Russell Terrier.

Here are a few fun facts about me...

Make sure you visit Blog Hoppin' to meet everyone else!  Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Google Forms

Google Forms is one of my favorite tools in Google.  It has made my life so much easier and allows me to collect data quickly!  I've used Forms to collect lunch information for field trips instead of sending home paper forms, feedback on classroom assignments, classroom surveys, short formative assessments, to gather supplies for class parties, and much more.  It truly is a sweet little tool that is easy to use.

What I like most:
1.  You can knock out a form in a brief amount of time.  If you have worked with Promethean software or Smart, Edmodo, etc. then you already have the skill set needed to create forms in Google.

2. Data is collected in Google and stored for you in a nice little spreadsheet.  Once all data is collected, you can access the data in a spreadsheet form.  This came in handy when I was doing lunch counts for field trips.  All I did was print the spread sheet out and give to our cafeteria manager.

3. Easily embeddable into websites.  If you use Google Sites, forms are easily embeddable into your website.

4.  Saving.  Google saves all forms so you can go back and access them easily for the next  class or next year.

Once you sign into Google, on the top right of the screen you will see a little 3x3 icon.  If you click that, you will find your app choices in a drop down menu.  You will notice in this screen that Forms isn't showing.  You have two options here: 1. Click more to see all of the app choices and find forms on a separate screen, or 2: Click "Drive."  (That's what I did)

Once you click Drive you will arrive at this menu.  This is your home screen in Google Drive.  You can see that I have folders set up for different documents.  On the right hand side you can see current activity.  This will show what is going on with documents that you are sharing with others as well.  To start a new form, just click "Create."

Once you click "Create" you will get a drop down menu with options.  We are working with Forms, so click "Forms."

As soon as you click "Forms" you are given options about the appearance of your form.  I use these when I'm working on holiday events or placing things on my website and want them to look better than the default setting.  Choose your background and name your form here. 

Once you have chosen your background and named the form, you are taking the screen that allows you to create your questions.  It looks very similar to Edmodo and ActivInspire.  

There are many options for question type.  Depending on your purpose some work better than others.

I worked with multiple choice for this tutorial.  Once you've added your choices, you have the option of making the question required.  *I usually make a "What is your name?" question required for my forms.  Then I know who answered what.  I learned that lesson really quickly. Once you have added the questions you want, click "Done."  

If you want to share your results with the responders, click "Publish and show a public link to form results."  You can also allow responders to edit their response after they submit.  You then have the option to view the live form.  If you click that, you will see what your form looks like.

The above is an example of my live question.  Responders choose their answer and hit submit.

After responders respond, they are met with this screen letting them know their response was recorded.  

At the top of the screen you will find the word "Responses"  When responses are recorded, the number in parentheses changes.  If you click responses, you are able to see the results of your form.

You can also view your responses by clicking "View Responses"  this will render the spreadsheet.  What I love most about the spreadsheet option is that it timestamps responses.  If you are running a contest, need an assignment turned in by a certain time, there are no excuses or arguments.

Sound off in the comments about how you would use Google Forms in your classroom this year!

I Don't Have the Answers...

It's taken me all weekend to begin to process what happened in Parkland, Florida.  I put it aside and compartmentalized it until I...