Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me! A Link Up with Tattooed Teacher

Linking up with my friend, Rachel, over at the Tattooed Teacher today for her Assess Me!  Hoping to hang out with her in real life at our Carolina bloggers meet up soon!














So, a few I have to be honest with before I close out this post.

Showering - Sunday is my LAZY day, I'll be honest.  If you stopped by my house on a Sunday, I'll have been in pajamas most of the day, sitting on the couch watching Netflix.  More than likely I will not even have my hair combed until my husband decides to go get something to eat.   It's what we do.

Glasses - I have a beautiful pair of Dolce & Gabbana glasses that I got a few years ago.  I still love them, but I don't wear them often.  However, I've hit 40 and have noticed a change in my eyesight, so I'm sure they will be getting used frequently this year.

Rachel, thanks for this great Assessment!  I love it! Head on over to see what others have said on this week's assessment!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

What'cha Reading?

This summer has definitely been the summer of reading for me.  I've read 25 adult fiction/nonfiction books, 3 professional books, and I'm working my way through a box of 55 Scholastic chapter books for the upcoming school year.

So, I've read a lot of must-reads and a lot of not-so-great reads.  I've learned over 16 years of teaching that sometimes the books that I choose for my kids that I absolutely love, may not have the reaction I was hoping for.  Hope at Elementary Shenanigans did a great Periscope about this on Saturday.  I jumped on the Wonder train at the beginning of the school year and thought it would be an amazing book for my 5th graders.  While some thoroughly enjoyed it and couldn't wait to tackle the text, most were very indifferent.  So, I went back to the drawing board.  I want my kids excited about reading just as much as I am.

Here are some of my TOP reads from the year.


We started the year with this book and my students fell in love with it.  It is told by 6 different narrators and was a little complex, but after getting used to the format, my students loved it.  The story focuses on the relationship of teacher and students.  Previously, the group of characters proved to be quite the handful, but Mr. Terupt has a way of impacting their lives forever.

Most appropriate for 4th-5th grades.


My class chose this one as their all time favorite of the year.  We used it as a mentor text during our unit on Social Justice.  My kids connected to Ivan and shed tears over his confinement in a local carnival display.  It lead to great discussion about the treatment of animals and allowed us to stage classroom debates.

Most appropriate for grades 3rd-5th.

My top reading group loved this one.  Anything with a little mystery got their goat.  This was a group of all boys and they couldn't wait until reading group time so they could devour the book.  This is book one in a series, so throughout the year, I saw multiple kiddos finishing up the set.

Most appropriate for grades 4th-6th.

I've read a few this summer that were amazing!  It was nice to see Elementary Shenanigans include some of them on her list as well.


All I can say is WOW!  This book was amazing!  It gave a great perspective of life from a child with cerebral palsy who was unable to talk.  I read it very quickly and added it immediately to my must read aloud to my students.  I'm always looking for books that help to build empathy.





This has always been one of my favorite movies, but I didn't sit down and read the book until this summer. I loved it!  It was light, positive, and comical.  I can't wait to share it with my kiddos.



Now, this book, this is my book of the summer.  Jacqueline Woodson did a bang up job of sharing her family history.  I had a special connection with this text.  It is set in the city that I teach - Greenville, SC.  The book is set during the civil rights movement and Woodson uses free verse poetry to tell her story.  It's powerful and moving.  I plan to pair it with our civil rights non-fiction texts,  The Watson's Go to Birmingham,  and Bud, Not Buddy.

I would love for you to share your top reads for your class below.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Are You Scopin'?

While I was living vicariously through my teacher blog friends in Vegas, I somehow became a part of a huge teacher takeover in the social media world.  I don't think Twitter's Periscope knew what was coming when teachers took over their live streaming app.



Periscope is an amazing tool that has endless possibilities in the educational world.  I'm brand new...so, I don't know everything there is to know yet, but here's the basics that I've discovered so far.


1.  Periscope is live time.  That means you can interact with an audience immediately.  When you begin your stream, your "followers" can log into your stream and see what is happening in your world.

2.  Immediate feedback is given!  Viewers can interact and post questions, comments, anything while you are streaming.  **This is really interesting and very tempting to comment on during your stream, but don't forget, your followers are trying to listen and if you are distracted, your content is compromised.

3.  Streams can be viewed for 24 hours.  If your viewers miss it, they can still access it on the app for 24 hours.

You can save your broadcasts to your camera roll on your phone for access later.


Right now, teachers are experimenting with the uses of Periscope.  So far, I've seen short snippets of book talks, professional development, introductions, classroom set up, etc.  Many teachers are using it to somewhat replace a blog.  Instead of writing about a post, how cool is it that you can just talk to people.

Is it scary?  Yes, I jumped in with both feet and was a nervous wreck.  But, here's my first introduction scope as a part of the #periscopeteacherchallenge and the #sundayscopinchallenge

Well, I didn't know you couldn't access it from the servers.  Broadcasts are only stored for 24 hours.



How do I plan to use it?

1.  Showcase my student presentations.  I want to provide real audiences this year with my students.  So, if you follow me, look for our presentations.

2. Book Talks - I'll be sharing a book talk about my new finds for 5th grade this week.  I plan to continue to do this all year.

I'm sure there are ENDLESS opportunities and I can't wait to discover them all with you.  Here's my details, follow me and let's learn together.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tech Thursday: FlipGrid

I spent this week at the Upstate Technology Conference and walked away with some fabulous new tools and a few tricks to  help me be more efficient with my favorites.

One that I learned about last year and I dropped the ball with using was FlipGrid.  It is AMAZING!

A strategy that I use quite often is the traditional Exit Ticket.  Students reflect at the end of a lesson on a post-it note, index card, etc.  Then they stick it up on the wall or the door and I read responses.  Well, FlipGrid will transform your Exit Tickets.



It is VIDEO!  Kind of like a confessional booth.  Students record short videos in response to a question.

Your role is to create a grid of questions, share the link, and students respond.  The fun part is watching the videos.  How much easier would it be to watch your exit tickets instead of gathering all of those sticky notes that inevitably get stuck where they shouldn't?


Here's the creator of FlipGrid sharing his thoughts.


Just a few FYI...

1.  You are not limited on the amount of questions or responses.
2. It does cost, but the educator rate is only $65 per year.  You get 10 grids.
3. No accounts are needed to record responses.  You just send out a link.

Head over to Teaching Trio to see the other entries in the Tech Thursday linky!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Made It: July 6

Warning...I wasn't very productive this week. But, I'm still linking up what I was able to accomplish. I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics again this week.  I'm in the process of a major classroom redo. It's all centered on the decor, but some of it is time intensive.


Our district requires all elementary teachers to have a word wall posted in the classroom that is easily visible.  This year I created new letter headings using the Cricut.  My theme is a Superhero theme, but I wanted longevity for my headings that would allow me to use them for several more years.  So, this is what I came up with so far.  For the last 4 years I've bought the exact same pad of scrapbook paper and used it for various ideas.  I'm loving my new letter headings.



In addition to new word wall headings, I redid my group signs.  This was done on the Cricut as well.  My thoughts were to make these look somewhat like a bat signal.  I'll hang these over each group.  This helps me stay organized with materials each day.  I sort papers by groups and have stacks ready at the beginning of the day.  It also helps me send groups to bathrooms, library, etc.  

Not a whole lot accomplished, but I'm getting there.  I start summer school next week and will work right up until the start of school.  Here's to hoping that I am more motivated. 

Head on over to 4th Grade Frolics

Thursday, July 2, 2015

July Currently

Say it isn't so!!!  There's no way that it can be July already!  That means that I only have one week before I begin teaching summer school and that lasts until the week before school starts!  I'm not ready!!

The start of a new month means Farley is back with Currently!  I don't know about you all, but the daily and monthly link ups are a way to keep me accountable to this little space.  I'm forever grateful to the creative geniuses that thought up all of these great little things.  Now, if I could just think of one too!

Anyway, without further adieu...

Listening:  Hubs and I stayed up all night last night reading and watching movies.  I know, wild and crazy right!  That's the best thing about summer.  Well, it's noon and he and the puppin are still sound asleep.  No television is on and the A/C just kicked on for the day.  Thankfully we have had mild temps around these parts and it has been quite pleasant.  

Loving: I am a voracious reader!  I mean it!  It's nothing for me to crank out 100 or more books a year.  This year I challenged myself to read 100 in the summer.  Well, I'm on about 20 I believe, so I probably won't hit that goal.  If I was reading books for my classroom, then I could, but these are adult fiction.  Best one so far, Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Seriously, go get it now!

Thinking I turned 40 this week and all of a sudden all of those doctor appointments and conversations start - mammogram, weight gain, etc.  Not liking it one little bit!

Needing:  I need more time!  Summer school starts in 2 weeks and then I start school after that.  I've spent the summer working, which I've enjoyed, but I still need more lazy days. Better tackle that to do list soon.

All-Star: I could have gone with the easy answer - using technology, but I dug deep for this one.  I love to create a snowball effect in conversations.  For example, a few weeks ago, I was writing curriculum for our engineering units for the upcoming school year with a group of teachers.  One teacher was stuck on an idea so we just starting ping-ponging ideas and the conversation led to an amazing unit for our 4th graders.  A few years back I was introduced to Design Thinking and we had to use "and" instead of "but" when we were brainstorming ideas for a birthday party.  That one little exercise blew me away and I've tried to do that when planning anything or trying to think of alternative solutions.  It's amazing.  Try it - with your students!


Go to Farley's and check out all of the other Currently posts!  It's my favorite time of the month!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crash Course: Chapter 2 Creating Magic

If you have never had the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, you truly are missing out on a magical experience.  Every where you look, you experience truly sensational and stimulating experiences that engage all of your senses.  From the Red Button in Ron's math class to the full size Volkswagen Beetle in Kim's Language Arts room to Alice's legs hanging out of the ceiling in Hope's room - there's is always something interesting to rest your eyes upon.  But, the teachers at RCA not only have rooms that are magical, they create magical experiences for their students.

Students never know what is coming so they are always sitting in great anticipation of what is behind the door - kind of like Let's Make a Deal! Walking into Kim's class one day, it could be set up like a Chinese restaurant or Hope's could be a spy lab.

In Crash Course, Kim shares how important it is to create magical experiences for our students.  Magical can be over the top and require hours redecorating your room or it could be turning a boring worksheet into an interactive game that addresses the content, but requires students to move, dance, sing, and get out of their seats.

Over the last 6-7 years of my career, I've been blessed to work with partners who believed in creating the magic.  From costumes to simulations to souvenirs, we worked to make the learning memorable and rigorous for our students.  There were a few ways that we did that below that I hope are helpful to you.


1.  Start with your content - Regardless of your magical experience, content should be the driving force behind what you are doing.  Don't compromise rigor for experience.  They go hand in hand.  When we were planning our Ellis Island Immigration Day, we started with the standards students needed to know and then planned around them.  For example, each teacher took a role and addressed a piece of the standards through a character.  I became Addie, a young lady immigrating from Ireland due to famine.  I researched her story, created a dialogue, and then embraced her as myself for the entire day.  Everything I did was through Addie's eyes.

2.  Give Students a Role - When students are engaged in the experience, the learning becomes more concrete.  It's one thing to become a character and give a monologue in your class, but it's a completely different level to have your students put your character in the Hot Seat and ask questions that were developed in a previous lesson with the expectation that there would be a real special guest.    For our Hooverville simulation, students dressed in hobo costumes and brought a vegetable to contribute to the community soup pot.  Each student created a back story to share with partners as they hopped trains to the city :)

3. Build in Assessments - They don't have to be traditional!  Really listen to student conversations, use stop and jots, have students tweet a reflection, take a selfie and caption it based on the lesson, create a video reflection.

4. Reflect! - Have students reflect on their learning through the experience. I like to use a summary journal for this piece, especially if I am in costume and character.  I usually have my students write me a letter about the special guest since I wasn't there.  The day following the experience, I completely play dumb about the "guest in the classroom. My kids get a kick out of it and so do I.


I modified a lesson I did with 2nd grade after visiting the Ron Clark Academy and we conducted surgery on passages based on skills we had learned previously.



When studying the Roaring 20s, I was a visiting flapper, Claire.  We learned the Charleston, redesigned women's fashions, and created poetry based on jazz music rhythms.


Susan B. Anthony came to teach for the day and taught about the Women's Suffrage Movement.  My students said she was mean :)




Rosie the Riveter stopped in for a few days and encouraged everyone to work.  Groups created war propaganda posters to encourage different groups to become involved in the war effort.


When studying the Space Race, a NASA astronaut joined us and taught about space engineering on satellites.  Students were then tasked to design a better satellite.

When your classroom becomes a magical place, there's no way students can keep from learning.  Even the most difficult students get involved.  When I was conducting the Emergency Room simulation, I had one student who wanted to become a behavior problem.  But, in character, an isolation operating room was created so he could practice his skills independently before joining a team of surgeons.  He mastered them very quickly :)

What magic are you bringing into your classroom this year?