Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wimberley Fundraiser

I am so saddened by the pictures and stories coming out of Wimberley from the floods this weekend.  I have seen many posts on social media of people in central Texas sending supplies and manpower to Wimberley to help search for missing people and clean up the destruction from the floods.  I wanted to do something too.  So I have decided to donate 30% of all purchases from my Jamberry website from now until Sunday night to the Red Cross to help with aid.

This can be any items from the website - wraps, gift certificates, nail care products, Style Box subscriptions, application tools, hand care products... anything.  Think of gifts you need for birthdays, graduations, summer fun, even the holidays in December (get shopping done early and help a great cause at the same time).  Remember wraps (excluding college and sorority) are always Buy 3 Get 1 Free.  

Please help me help those in Wimberley who have been affected by these recent storms.  

Friday, May 22, 2015

Book Whispering

Over the weekend, I read the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. (I'm behind the curve in reading this, I know). But I am so glad I finally did.
It has taken me a while to write this post because this book spoke to me on so many levels- as a teacher, a librarian, a parent and as a reader.

My husband would call me an idealist and to me what Donalyn has accomplished in her classroom is perfect! Heaven! The epitome of reading class!  It sounds so simple... give them books and let them read!  Why don't more of us do it?

Twenty years ago when I began my teaching career in a third grade classroom, I read outloud to my students everyday and we always had silent reading.  I, like Donalyn, taught whole class novels.  I had been in college during the "whole language" teaching movement where topics were integrated in all subject areas for weeks of study.  My favorite of these was our Mr. Popper's Penguins unit.  We studied the heck out of penguins.  We researched the different kinds of penguins.  We did science experiments about blubber.  Every math problem was about penguins.  We capped off the unit with an overnight, YES OVERNIGHT with 100 3rd graders, trip to the penguin house at Sea World where we learned even more about penguins and observed them all night long.  I thought the kids were engaged and I thought I was doing it right, and to some extent I might have been.  I was at a pretty affluent school. We didn't even mention the "T" word until January.  Students came to us with a rich vocabulary and exposure to books at home.

Now, I cringe as see what miracles teachers are asked to perform.  They have a tremendous amount of curriculum to cover in less and less time every year as testing and benchmarks take over the classrooms.  I hate that they have to rush through skills or concept, just grazing the surface. There is no time to delve deeper or do the reteaching of some concepts that they know they need to do because they have to rush on to the next topic in time for the next benchmark where the students will be tested on it.  Things have to give and unfortunately, read alouds and silent reading have suffered.

Are there teachers, administrators and district leaders out there that still value reading in it's true form?  I sure hope so.  I hope that soon the pendulum will swing the other way and reading test questions will not be the reading that is taught in our schools.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Technology Tuesday: Nearpod

I attended a session about Nearpod at TCEA this year and I know a few of our librarians LOVE it, but I hadn't been brave enough to try it until now.
Nearpod is an interactive presentation tool.  It keeps the students engaged as the teacher controls the lesson from their computer or iPad.  The teacher can push out content, activities, questions, polls and quizzes to each iPad.  There are many already created nearpod lessons or you can customize your own.  

I decided to try this with kinder this week since they were still coming for a story, but not checking out, we had some extra time to try it.  I created a very simple lesson about plants to complete after we read a book about plants.  I chose From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons for our story.

After we read, I passed out the iPads (one iPad for 2 students).  I was projecting my iPad and controlling the lesson from my computer because I wanted to be able to model the different activities since we were doing it for the first time.  The first thing they had to do was type in the lesson code and then their names.  On my computer screen I could see as they entered their names.  Then I clicked to turn the page on my computer which in turn changed the page on their iPads.  Since we read the book first, I did not include any content in this first lesson.  Each of the 4 pages was an activity.  I included a fill in the blank activity of plant parts for the first page.  
An open ended question, "What do plants need to grow?" was the second page.  The third page was an image I created in PowerPoint and saved as a jpg.  
And the final page was to draw and label the parts of a flower.  

The students really enjoyed using this app and I thought it was perfect for immediate feedback since their submitted answers popped right up on my screen.  

Here are some of the things I loved about this.  I controlled the pace. After each activity when students submitted their answer a "Thank You" screen popped up and they could not go ahead or back until I advanced it.  I also liked being able to see who had submitted and who had not submitted as well as their answers. I loved that there were so many ways to assess... fill-in-the-black, quizzes, polls, drawings, short answer, etc.  I will definitely be using this more next year.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday "Wrap" Up

This week was spent with 4th grade doing research.  Each of the 7 classes came in everyday to research a topic of the student's choice (a modified genius hour).  I definitely want to change it up if I do it again, even though they were very engaged because it was a topic of their choice.  The structure of the research time is what I need to rethink.

My wraps this week last month's sister style Bellagio and Navy Quarterfoil

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Live Video Feed with Jarrett Krosoczka

Another fabulous opportunity for my students discovered on Twitter...

Last night I noticed a tweet about a live opportunity Jarrett Krosoczka was offering for students today.
 I immediately emailed my teachers about it.  As usual, most were skeptical, but my two go-getter, willing to try anything, 4th grade teachers jumped at the 11:00 opportunity.   They even asked questions during the feed and Jarrett answered them!  

Wanting to get more teachers on board, I asked these two to reply to my email about how cool it was (sneaky, I know, but hey, it worked!)  and I brought it up with them in the teacher's lounge at lunch since he was doing another one at 1:00 our time.  

Once they heard how easy and fabulous it was, the rest of the teachers were all on board.  During the feed, Jarrett introduces his Platypus Police Squad books and how he draws the characters.  Some of my kinder students were even drawing along!  


He also showed how he changes characters facial expressions by drawing different lines around the eyes.  Here is a 2nd grader practicing.

What a super way to connect with kids and get kids excited about reading.  With summer coming up, I know what books my students are going to be looking for at the library.  


Here are some actual quotes from some 5th graders about the experience.  

"We are learning about his books online without him actually being here"
"We loved that it was interactive"
"Not only did he talk about his books, but he showed us how he illustrated them too"
"He gave us a sneak peak of his next book"
"We got to look at a live screen at a famous author that students across the country were able to see at the same time"

Thanks Mr. Krosoczka for a fabulous 20 min that our students will remember!  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Book Fair

I have a love/hate relationship with book fair.

I love to see the kids excitement when they see the carts in the hallways and their "oohs" and "aaahs" as we are unpacking the fair.  I hate unpacking the fair, 

I love that the students want to buy a lot of books.  I hate when they come to the counter with 6 hardback books and $2.

I love seeing families come to the book fair together to buy books.  I hate the looks on the parent's faces when the children say, "can I get the hand pointer?"

I love that the book fair is a way for me to raise money to bring authors to my school.  I hate that a good chunk of the money is made off the "junk" instead of the books.  

I love seeing students that know how to count and handle their money.  I hate seeing baggies full of change and wadded up bills.  

I love that students I don't think will bring money to buy books, do.  I hate that not every child can buy a book and some feel they have to steal to get one.  

I hate when book fair is over.  I love when book fair is over and the kids are already asking when the next one is.     

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Poetry Stations

I just love it when I offer a lesson in the library and when it's over, the teachers ask, "You'll have this for us again next year, right?"  This happened multiple times last week after 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers brought their students in for some poetry centers that my colleague, Natalie Watts  and I created.

Both of us are hosting Poetry Alive and we wanted to promote some of the poems they would be performing.  Instead of just reading them to the kids, we came up with about 10 centers that would introduce the poems to the students and require them to complete various activities as they rotated around.  

Here are a few examples of our centers...  After reading "Ode to Family Photographs" by Gary Soto, students looked at some pictures that I had saved of families together.  The directions were to find a picture that reminds them of a time with their family and write a poem about it.  The students came up with some very clever poems.

At another center, students read the poem, "Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face" by Jack Prelutsky.  After reading the poem, they had to illustrate in DoodleBuddy on the iPad either a place described in the poem or a place on their body where they would not want their nose.  

Not all stations were technology based.  At one stations, students read the poem, "The Pig" by Roald Dahl.  Then they used highlighters to find text evidence answering certain questions.  For example, highlight with green the line in the poem that tells how the pig solved the problem.  Adding the highlighter made this an engaging activity for the students.

Yesterday, we had our Poetry Alive performance and it was great to see the recognition in the students' faces when one of the poems from our stations was performed.