Friday, December 27, 2013

Change

This is the time of the year when people begin to think about changes they want to make in their lives.  People make resolutions, break resolutions, and some avoid resolutions altogether. I don't even want to talk about my resolutions to live a healthier life and loose weight. After reading a blog post from Pernille Ripp, I was was inspired to reflect on my changes for the next year.  For some reason I am better at making changes related to my classroom routines. So I'd like to share two changes in my class that I will begin once we get back to school.  The changes I am implementing involve classroom management and writing workshop.

Classroom Management
I have used "Class - Yes!" from Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching for several years as a way to get my students' attention.  Basically whenever I need to get their attention I say a version of  "class" and the students respond by mimicking my tone with a "yes". The kids love it!  I try to add variety by saying "class, class" different ways. Depending on how they respond and whether or not I have everyone's attention, students can earn or lose points which translate into earning or loosing a privilege.  In our class we typically work towards earning extra recess.  

So what's the change?  Instead of keeping track of the tally marks on a chart, I will be using a number line with positive and negative integers to keep track during the day.  When the class earns a point, a student will move the arrow to the right.  Lose a point and the arrow moves to the left.  Even though negative integers is not in our standards, I think this is a great way to introduce this concepts.  The number line is posted near the door, so before we leave for recess it will be easy to take a quick look to see where we stand.

Here is a video explaining how "Class-Yes" works.



Google Drive
The second change involves using Google Drive during writing workshop.  I have been fortunate to attend a couple of technology conferences this year where I attended sessions about integrating technology during Writer's Workshop.  For some reason I just didn't think I was ready for that change before. It just sounded too complicated.  Then literally one day during the last week of school before winter break, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  The students were already typing their essays and then submitting them to me on Edmodo or ebackpack to review.  (Click here to read my previous post about ebackpack.)  If  they typed their essays using Google Drive and then shared that file with me, then I would be able to see what they were typing as they typed and I could write comments that they could instantly see.  At least that's what I remembered from the sessions I had attended. 

So I tried it out with a couple of students who were helping out in my room after school.  I shared with them what I wanted to be able to do during writing workshop.  My students' parents had already set up Gmail accounts for them so all they had to do was use their Gmail account to begin using Google Drive. We had already downloaded the app but hadn't begun using it.

Since we got our iPads this year my students have become comfortable with the idea of trying something out to see how it works. We were working on informational writing so they just typed their introductory paragraphs using Google Drive.  The students then shared their file with me by entering the address I had created specifically for our class.  With the click of a button I could see what they were typing and  I was able to make comments and edit their writing.  When I told them we would have to show the rest of the class how to do this, they suggested we make a video.  So off they went to make the "How to" video for the rest of the class.

Lessons learned 
Somewhere I read "The only person who welcomes change is a wet baby".  I guess that could be true.  Change challenges us.  Change can be hard.

But change does not have to be a grand gesture.  It could just be a little tweek here and there to make something you are already doing work better.  Change for the sake of change is unnecessary but change that results in a better you or a better me is well worth it! What changes will you be making when you return to school next year?



Sunday, November 24, 2013

What's the Matter?

 
We are studying matter this nine weeks.  Instead of using valuable class time to watch a Brain Pop video, Property Changes,  and a Bill Nye video States of Matter, the students watched them independently. If you have a  subscription your students could also watch Flocabulary's  States of Matter. Students were able to watch the videos at their own pace on their iPads. Then we were able to take time to complete these two labs.

For the first lab we were investigating that mass of an object is equal to the mass of the sum of its parts.  The students used Legos to construct different objects. What fun!  



They found the mass of their total object.  Next they separated their objects into smaller parts and weighed the individual parts.  Then they compared the total mass to the mass of the sum of the smaller parts.

The students took pictures of their work in progress and used PicCollage to share their finished work.  Thanks to our wonderful Science Mom, Mrs. Carter, for bringing in tons of Legos!

  For our next lab we used pheynol red, baking soda, and calcium chloride to investigate the difference between chemical and physical changes.  The students could actually see evidence of a chemical change taking place:  color change, change in temperature, and gas was formed.  All inside the safety of little baggies.  If you Google Sunset in a Bag you can easily find the directions for this lab online.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Every Child Deserves 1 Hour!

Coding.  It is at its basic root a 4 letter word! But it doesn't have to be.  
December 9-15 is Computer Science Education Week.  Sign up to host an Hour of Code.  There are self-guided video lessons that you can use with laptops, tablets, and smart phones. You can even use the Smartboard for whole group instruction if you prefer. No technology? No problem. There are lesson that you can use without computer access.  I tried some of the lessons. They are really fun!  Oh, Did I mention the first 100,000 educators who sign up to host an hour of code will receive 10GB of free DropBox storage?

Make sure you have a DropBox account before your sign up for the Hour of Code.  So sign up to participate. No one is paying me to promote this.  I just think that every student deserves at least 1 hour!  Don't you?



Sunday, November 3, 2013

PEMDAS

Photo: Fisher

I was reviewing the basic Order of Operations with a group of students who were still having a little trouble.  When I initially taught the lesson I used a video, a rap by Ron Clark, and a model of a hop scotch board to teach the order.  Still they needed more.  One thing I had neglected to do was to actually have them jump on the board.  So I used painter's tape to make the hop scotch board on the floor.  The students had to say the operation and the part of the written expression that correlated to the step. We talked about why multiplication and division as well as addition and subtraction were on the same level. When they reached the end of the board they gave their answer. 

Even though we used the board on paper to learn the order of operation, it wasn't enough for some students.  They actually needed the experience jumping on the board. Now whenever they walk across the board they can hop as long as they whisper the order of operations that go along with it. You try: What is 8-2+1(6-3)?  Write your answer in the comment section below.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Ask 3 before me" - There's an app for that!

Image from Ask3
ASK3 is NO LONGER AVAILABLE!  (INSERT SAD  FACE)


If you follow my blog, then you probably already know I got a class set of iPads this year!  And when I find something great I just can't help but share it. Well this time I have found a great FREE app that  encourages collaboration among peers.  It can be used for homework, classwork, in just about any subject area.  So what is it? Glad you asked.  It's Ask 3!   How many times have you found yourself saying "Ask 3 before me"?  Well now there's an app for that!

This app allows students (or teachers for that matter) to post questions on a class bulletin board and then other class members (or the teacher) can leave a text response, a drawing, or a video to explain the answer. It's great for a flipped classroom or any classroom where collaboration is valued.  You sign-up and are given a class code.  Students join your class using the code and the fun learning begins!  

The only concern I have is that you cannot "lock" your group once all of your students have joined.  That just means you have to make sure you don't post your group code where others can get it.   You should also probably monitor your student's submissions.  But you would do that anyway, right?

I used it in math class the other day to review test items the students had missed.  Students took pictures of a problem and posted their questions on the bulletin board.  I responded to some and other students responded as well.  It was nice to see the collaboration among students.  I am already thinking of other ways to use this in my classroom.

If you have used this before, please share how you used it in your class.  If not, what are some ideas you have for using this app?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Making Connections

Image from Vector Templates
I recently connected with some awesome teachers through Edmodo. Yes, Edmodo.  I signed up to participate in The Global Read Aloud this year for the first time. It seems I am experiencing a lot of "firsts" at this late stage in the game of teaching, which proves that you are never too old to change or should I say grow and learn!

So, I will be reading the book Out of My Mind along with several thousands of other teachers all across the globe. Yes! The globe!  There are other titles you can choose from depending on the level of your students.  You choose the book you want to share with your students and then connect with other teachers who are reading the same book. Students can comment on each others posts using Kidblog or collaborate using Padlet or TodaysMeet to discuss the book.  You can read my post on using TodaysMeet in my math class here.  Some classes even use Skype and Twitter or have set up student groups on Edmodo for book discussions.  The sky's the limit when it comes to how you connect with other classes. 

I was just reading some of the comments written by my students and students from other classes.  Here are a few of their blog posts:
 


 Nice!

What better way for my students to really develop and practice their writing skills!   It's not too late for you to make that connection! Teachers are still looking for classes to connect with.  Go to The Global Read Aloud page, scroll down to One Month to Go #GRA13 , and you will see the Edmodo group codes for the different books.  Once you join the group on Edmodo, just connect with another teacher. It's that easy! 

Read News Article about Pernille Ripp, the creator of GRA

Monday, September 2, 2013

PDF Split

Image from dreamstime.com
I was smack dab in the middle of working on my plans for the upcoming week when I had to stop and share this.  I wanted to assign a math Exemplars to my students.  I figured I would post the page on Edmodo or I could try using Evernote.  I am working out the whole process of sharing files and notebooks with my students and having them write on it using their iPads, then resubmit it to me to grade. All using the iPad.

The problem was I only needed my students to see the first page of the PDF file not the entire document.  If you know Exemplars, each problem also has possible students solutions and other teacher resources attached to the PDF.  Then I remembered reading somewhere about a PDF splitter.  So I thought I would give it a try.  I went online and searched "PDF splitter" and there it was.  It was so easy to do.  You don't have to download or join to use it.  Oh, did I mention it was FREE!

Step 1:  Save the original file to your desktop.
Step 2: Browse and locate the file (upload to site).
Step 3: Enter the page numbers you want split. (for me I entered pages 1 to 1)

Click on Split!  and you're done!  Easy Peasy!

Now I can attach just that 1 page the students need on Edmodo or Evernote.  If anyone uses Evernote to send and receive student work, please share how you are doing that.  It would make my life so much easier!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Place Value and TodaysMeet


Student Journal
Last year I made a place value chart and glued those orange wooden base 10 blocks to the chart to represent ones, tenths, and hundredths.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  If you teach primary, you probably give the tiny cube a value of "one" while in intermediate (or at least in fifth grade) that tiny cube represents "one hundredth".  That can be confusing to some kids.  That's why it is important to stress the value you assign to each block and to model what that looks like.  Anyway, back to the chart . . .

For homework the students watched a  Study Jams Place Value video and my Decimal Place Value video that I posted on Edmodo.  Then in class I had them use decimal grids to create a place value chart in their journals. By doing this the kids could really see that one tenth or .1 was completely different from 10. Next, we made a class chart and went to the thousands place.  It was easy to see that if you start at the decimal and move to the left, then “each place is 10 times bigger”.  Just like the song says.  

Once the chart was finished (it actually took two days to make) we used  TodaysMeet to discuss what we noticed about our place value chart. Using TodaysMeet really makes the students think about their thinking.  Now when we have our WSQ chats one student in the group has an iPad and they post the group's thinking during the chat.  After we finish the WSQ chats,  we meet back together as a whole group and use the transcripts from TodaysMeet to "see" what the smaller groups were thinking. I have the transcript projecting on the white board the entire time. 

Using TodaysMeet is so easy.  Simply go to the website, name your "room" and then start "talking".  You can choose how long you save your group.  I decided to save my group for a year.  Imagine, I will have a transcript of our math thinking for the entire school year!  Each time we log on, we enter the same address and we are reconnected to our ongoing chat.  It really is powerful to see their thinking and hear the conversations that result from reading the posts of others.  I guess you could say we are Rockin' the Standards!
  
 







Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Top Ten Takeaways from iSummit 2013

There were so many fabulous presenters at the iSummit 2013 Conference. 
Unfortunately I could not attend every session . . .
Fortunately there is a wiki for the conference and I can check out all the wonderful resources.  You can too!!  What I can do however, is highlight what resonated with me. 

The iPad is not:
  • for everything in the classroom
  • the driver of instruction
  • a device for practicing basic skills. . . if that's all you do with it
  • a reward for completing classroom instruction
iPads are:
  • tools
  • used to meet goals when appropriate
  • useful when you begin with the goal in mind (iPad + IPedagogy = iLearn, Julia Osteen)
  Here are my Top Ten Takeaways from the conference (in no particular order):

10. Private schools have a lot more money to spend on technology.

 9.  Are students spending time engaged in investigating "Googleable" or "Un-Googleable" questions? (Keynote Speaker, Ewan McIntosh)

 8.  The most important predictor of student success IS NOT their socioeconomic level nor their parent's education or school involvement;  It is their teacher.  (I already knew that but it was nice to hear someone else say it!) Neurons GROW as we work.  The more we work them, the stronger they get! What a student thinks their teacher thinks about them influences their performance.(Technology Meets the Brain, Connie White)

 7.  FAIL= First Attempt In Learning  (Ewan McIntosh)

 6.  Include the 3 Cs and 3 Rs (Challenge, Collaborate, Responsibility, Respect, Real things, Choice) in everything you do.  (Ewan McIntosh)

 5.  Children should compose, edit, revise, and publish using technology.  (Toss Out the Pen - Pick up the Apple, Lisa Kelly)

 4.  In writing, "don't count off for things you have not specifically taught!"  Correct them but don't count off for them. (Toss Out the Pen - Pick up the Apple, Lisa Kelly) Kind of like: "if you consequate you must educate".

 3. When using Evernote, the teacher should set up the notebooks and share with students.  That way you retain control. (Evernote in Education, Mark Labourchere)

 2. Showbie or ebackpack?? I'm still trying to decide. Click here to read my post.

 1.  "It's a behavior problem, not a technology problem!" Actually I was reflecting on this when I decided to write this post and I can't for the life of me remember who said it. (If I find it in my notes, I will post later) Basically, would you take away a child's pencil and paper or textbook if they were using it improperly?  Probably not.  So then why would you even consider taking away technology  an appropriate consequence?  *I believe this was from the Keynote speaker, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. 

There were so many other great things I learned I couldn't possible include them all.  I will leave you with this funny.


"Real Question:  Are we willing to change - to risk change - to meet the needs of the precious folks we serve?"  (8 Steps to Do-It-Yourself PD, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach)  
The dates for iSummit 2014 are June 10-12.


iSummit 2013: How Do You Handle Workflow?

Image from Showbie


I know I've mentioned before that I will have a class set of iPads next year!  Exciting!   I was excited about the possibilities this new technology would offer but was also a little nervous about transitioning to a class with a full set of iPads.   Would I be successful?  How would I manage this new technology? What activities will my students complete using the iPad?  Will my classroom be completely paperless?  Is that even realistic?   Probably the most pressing decision I needed to make was how would I manage the work flow in my classroom.  You know getting work to the students, turning work in, grading work that the students have turned in, and returning it to them.  All done electronically. So when my principal asked if I would like to attend iSummit, I immediately said "Yes"! What a great opportunity to learn from other professionals who were already using this technology in their classes.

I realize students need to use their iPads to learn and create meaning (I will post more about that as time goes on) but before I start passing out iPads, I needed to work out in my mind the management part. So I attended 2 sessions on managing workflow: Showbie and ebackpack.  Both allow you to assign, collect, and review student work.  Showbie is free but for an additional cost you can upgrade to the pro version which will allow you to grade and write comments on assignments.  Ebackpack is a paid service that offers the same features as Showbie; however, ebackpack  also has a parent communication component. Basically, if you want to be able to annotate student assignments you will have to pay in either case.   I am going to play around with both applications to see which one I like best.  Decisions. . .decisions! If anyone has used either (or used something completely different) please share your thoughts.  I would love to hear your comments! Once I have made up my mind I will post an update.  I think I should create a chart comparing both.  Maybe I should do that on the iPad.  Hummm....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shift Happens!

Even though school does not officially begin for another two weeks I have been working in my class, as I am sure a lot of you have.  Today I took some time to just sit and reflect on a few things.  These are some of the questions I am trying to work out. Maybe you can help. 


Flipping in Fifth
This year I will have a class set of iPads.  Will I really need all of these dictionaries?  There are more on the table.  Students can use use dictionary.com instead of the actual dictionary.  Or do they need to have "real" dictionaries?  I won't even mention that I inherited 2 sets of encyclopedias last year.  Yes encyclopedias!   I thought the students could use them to research topics in social studies (that information does not change).  For that matter do I even need to make room for my textbooks?  We really don't use them a lot (said in a whisper voice).  If I needed to use them, we could use the online version. Side note:  I think I might have some hoarding tendencies.


Flipping in Fifth
I have used tables instead of desks in my class forever.  It makes it easier for students to collaborate  and it promotes the type of environment I want in my classroom.  Do I really need all of these tables?  Does everyone have to have an assigned seat? Or can I just make sure I have a place where everyone can work?  It could be on the carpet with a clipboard, on the low table in front of the couch, or on a couch.  I was reading Flipped Teacher's post, Setting the Scene, it really sounds like the type of environment I want to have.


Flipping in Fifth
  This year I will have 29 students (that's 7 more students than I had last year).  That means I need to make my whole group area larger.  I like the students to come to the carpet for whole group instruction and discussions. Yes, even in 5th grade they sit on the carpet!


Flipping in Fifth
  I had to make my class library a little smaller. There's a single black chair behind the couch for one person to sit and read.  Students can also sit on the carpet and on floor pillows.  Back to the tables thing.  Each student has a blue book box (on top of the bookcases) where they keep their independent reading books, writer's notebooks, poetry notebooks, and reader's notebooks.  And will they still need those or will they keep them on their iPads?  So I'll ask again, do I need a traditional table and chair (or stability ball) seat for everyone? Some of my students use stability balls instead of chairs.  I wish I had balls for everyone.  In case you're wondering why, here is the page from my class website explaining why we use stability balls

Next question...What am I going to do about their other notebooks. . .  their social studies and science interactive notebooks and math journals.  If I have a class set of iPads do they need to keep these notebooks or should they set up notebooks on their iPads?  Will they take their iPads home?  If not, then won't they need these notebooks?  And won't they need to still have a math journal?  That's what they use to take notes while watching their videos at home.  Then they use their notes for their WSQ chats.

I'm thinking it's time to shift how we do school.  If we are changing our delivery of instruction and how students show what they have learned, then shouldn't the environment in which we teach and learn change as well?  These are some of the things I am trying to work out.

How do you organize your class environment?  Do you have a class set of iPads?  If so, what do you do about interactive notebooks and journals.  Any thoughts are appreciated!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

Wow! I just found out that my blog was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award for new blogs by Verena from Diary of a 5th Grade Teacher.  Thank you Verena!  According to Kristen at Aspire to Inspire "the Liebster Award is a way bloggers spread the word about fellow bloggers whose blogs have fewer than 200 followers".  When I started my blog, I wanted it to be a place to record my thoughts and I also hoped that it would be helpful to others that wanted to begin flipping their class.  Since I began blogging just over a year ago, I have found inspiration and so many wonderful teaching ideas from other bloggers. I am humbled to think that others have found my blog to be a source of inspiration as well.

Now, to accept this award, I need to . . .

1.  Link back to who nominated me, Verena from Diary of a 5th Grade Teacher.
2.  Nominate 5 blogs that have fewer than 200 followers.
3.  Answer 11 questions created by the person who nominated me.
4.  List 11 random facts about myself.
5.  Create 11 questions for my nominees to answer. 
6.  Contact my nominees to let them know they have been nominated.

So, here goes . . .


      1.  What is your classroom theme? My classroom theme is fish for Fisher. 

 2.  Who inspired you when you were a child? My math teacher, Mrs. Winnie Pone

 3.  What is your least favorite subject to teach? I hate to admit it but it's social studies

 4.  How do you spend your summers? I spend too much time on the internet finding wonderful new ideas for my class.  I try to take a little time to enjoy the beach!

 5.  If you could do something else other than teaching, what would it be?  I would love to be a lawyer.  I ask so many questions.

 6.  If you had three wishes what would they be? (1) That each of my three sons would be happy, safe and healthy (does that count as 3?) (2) that my husband and I had a house on the beach and (3) people would have respect and agape love for one another in spite of their differences.

 7.  Target or Walmart?  Target although my husband is a true Walmart shopper.

 8.  How often do you blog?  I probably blog every other week.

 9.  What is the last movie you’ve seen?  If you count the movie I rented on television the other day, it would be Temptations: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor by Tyler Perry but the last move I saw in the theater was Man of Steel (with my husband).

10.  What is one word you would use to describe your first day of school?  Hopeful!

11.   What motivates you?  Helping others.

11 Random Facts about Myself 
  1. I am very passionate when I believe in something.
  2. I love animals.  I have had rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, parakeets, finches, and now a snake and fish as class pets.  
  3. When I was little, I was afraid of the dark.
  4. I love the beach.
  5. I love teaching.  
  6. I have taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, and fifth grades.
  7. I have 3 sons.
  8. I am from North Carolina but have lived in Georgia for 29 years.
  9. I have been married to the same man for 29 years!
  10. Basketball is my favorite sport.
  11. I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.


I would love to nominate the following bloggers for this award: 
  1. Deliah Bush at My Flipped Classroom.
  2. Marc at A Flipped Approach
  3. Michelle at Mrs. White's 5th Grade Class 
  4. Charlotte at Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun.  
  5. David at iPads in Primary Education

Questions for My Nominees 
  1. What made you decide to become a teacher?
  2.  How long have you been teaching?
  3. What is your least favorite subject to teach?
  4. What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
  5. What are you passionate about?
  6. What are you afraid of?
  7. What was the best book you read to your students?
  8. What is the best book/website you have found for professional development?
  9. What is your favorite restaurant?
  10. Do you have any pets?
  11. How often do you blog?

 I'm looking forward to learning more about some of my favorite bloggers.

Tune into Technology Linky: iPads



 OK . . . This is my very first time participating in a Linky Party.  I hope I do this right! So . . .here goes . . . I am linking up with Kristin at  iTeach1:1 and Learning to the Core for Tune into Technology to share how I use iPads in my classroom. I think I should tell you that I only had 1 iPad in my class last year.  My students would sign up on the board to reserve the iPad when they needed to work on something.  I also participated in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) so a few other students had devices they could use.  Next year I will have a class set of iPads.  I am sooo excited!!

1.  Educreations -  I had a few students that needed to work on fluency.  They simply took a screen shot of a reading passage and then recorded themselves reading.  By doing this 2 or 3 times a week they could track their rate of reading and check their fluency. I also had a recording of their reading to refer to for conferences and next teaching steps. My students also used Educreations to create videos modeling how to solve math problems.

I love Educreations because it's easy to use.  These one-take videos were perfect to show their understanding of math concepts.  I posted their videos on Edmodo for other students to watch to help them review concepts.  


 2.  Pinnacle Studio - My students used this app to create a movie about our flipped classroom.  Aside from loading app, my students did everything . . . from the filming to editing and adding subtitles.    It's amazing what kids can do when you give them the tools and the freedom. 




3.  Students also used the camera to take pictures of real world examples of fractions around our school.  They used the pictures to describe the fractional pieces and create equations for addition and subtraction of fractions.

I can't wait to try many of the suggestions from other teachers in this Linky Party. Make sure you follow the Link to check out some of the other great ideas.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Back to School!



I've been searching for some new ideas for my classroom.  Yes, already!  It seems like we just got out of school just a few weeks ago... oh wait... we did!  Anyway, next year I will have a class set of iPads! Yea!! Doing my happy dance!   I will be posting more about how I use them in my flipped class. 

But back to why I'm writing... Guess what I found on Pinterest?  This adorable iPod themed bulletin board by Kristen.  Love it!  Be sure to stop by and check out her blog iTeach 1:1.  If you go to her blog NOW, you can earn $10 to spend in her TPT store.  I'm going shopping! :-)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's Next?

Ok....so I have made some videos and uploaded them to Edmodo. Granted, I do need to tweek some of them and redo some others. I would love to have Camtasia and be able to add the "picture-in-a-picture" or even some "callouts" to make the videos more engaging for my students.  Aww  . . . .  (a girl can dream...)

I also used Google Documents, WSQ charts, and chats to keep my students accountable and to check on their comprehension of the concepts. I'm thinking about creating tutorials for a complete unit and then embedding that onto Edmodo.  That will really allow my students to move at their own pace. 

Last year I used K-5 Math Teaching Resources  a lot for activities to help my students practice the skills they learned while watching the videos.  My students really liked working with partners and in small groups.  To them it was more like playing a game than doing math.  They also created their own videos using Educreations to explain concepts. 

So . . . next year I want to include some PBL in my class. What resources have you found that would work in elementary classrooms?  I know they're out there.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

TLC Conference ~ June 12-13

I just finished working on my flipping presentation for Teachers Leading Cobb Summer Conference (Yes, I know how that sounds).  I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because I get to share what I believe is a tremendous opportunity for teachers to improve their craft.  Nervous because I want to make sure people come away from my session with the tools they need to be successful in their classes next year.

This was my first year flipping and I have learned so much!  Everything (with the exception of Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every day) I have learned about flipping has been online.  Through the internet I have been able to peek into the classrooms of some great teachers who are flipping their classes.  I have been able to learn from the comfort of my home while reading their blog posts and watching their videos showing their classes in action.  I have even had an opportunity to chat online and get clarification when things weren't going as I'd hoped.  (Thank you Crystal!)  Then I could go into my classroom and apply what I'd learned at home.  Wait a minute . . . Isn't that what flipping is all about!

Click here to view Prezi.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

They're Back!

Test scores are back ...100% of my students met or exceeded standards in math! Whoo-hoo! This year I was able to spend more time working with individuals and small groups. I could direct students to specific videos to review concepts when necessary.  My students worked cooperatively with each other and learned from each other.  They even had fun working in partner groups on games designed to strengthen their math skills. All things considered, I would definitely say my first year flipping was a success! (Insert smiley face)

Some of my students put together a video (completely made and edited by them) about their thoughts on our flipped class. You can watch it here.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Finding Gems


The Hope Diamond
While reading literature in our class, we are always on the lookout for GEMS: sentences that catch our attention, sentences we would love to imitate in our own writing. Basically we are looking for great examples of writing.  I started doing this in my class after reading Mechanically Inclined by Jeff Anderson.

Well, just recently I have found another GEM, something worthy of imitation, The Teaching Channel.  Here you can find actual videos of classroom teachers who are masters at their craft.  You can find videos by subject, grade level, or topic.  If you are confused about the Common Core, there are videos to help you sort through that as well. 

Someone once said:  "The best teachers are made by the teacher next door".  When I first started teaching more than 30 years ago, that teacher for me was right across the hall, JoEllen French.  Whatever she did in her class, I did in mine.  She was a GEM! 

Now we can find GEMS who are literally thousands of miles away. If you haven't already visited The Teaching Channel, I encourage you to spend some time there.  You never know what GEMS you will find!




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Unknown

 

 photo by wingedwolf
Tomorrow my students will take their end-of-the-year state test for math. This is our first year implementing Common Core Standards and this is my first year flipping. Everything boils down to this one test.  Are they prepared? I think so. Will they be successful?  I hope so!



Time will tell.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Edmodo and Washington, DC


Q:  How many rooms are in the White House?
A: 132 rooms


Q: How much does a panda eat in a day?
A:  A Lot!
 This was the third year we have taken a group of fifth graders to Washington, DC for Spring Break.  The trip was wonderful, as usual.  We visited monuments and memorials for just about everything we have learned about in social studies this year:  Vietnam Memorial, WWII, Iwo Jima, Holocaust Museum, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial, Pentagon Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and more.  We also managed to spend a little time at the zoo, visit the Nation's Capitol and still had an entire day to explore the Smithsonian Museums. You name it, it's there. 

However, this year was a little different.  This year we had Edmodo.  I posted photographs throughout our trip along with trivia questions for the students to answer.  Not only could the students on the trip respond but students that did not travel with us were able to "see" some of the sites we visited.

As usual, it was a great trip.  I'm already looking forward to next year's trip!  I just found out there is an African American Civil War Memorial.  Maybe we can see that next year.  One thing's for sure, I will definitely take Edmodo along!
Inside the Capitol

"Freedom is not Free"~ The Korean Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial
Arlington Cemetery




Thurgood Marshall ~ Civil Right's Leader, Supreme Court Justice
Iwo Jima Memorial


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Let it Flow, Let it Flow, Let it Flow!

Have you heard about Flocabulary?  If you grew up singing along to School House Rock then you will love Flocabulary and your kids will too!  It's a great site that uses Hip Hop beats to teach everything from grammar to science to math.  They even have A week in Review, a weekly current events sung to Hip Hop.  My kids can't get enough of the grammar songs and videos. I know, right! Right now you can get a free subscription for the rest of this school year for your entire school.  Your students will also get their own personal user name and password so they can listen to the songs "till their heart's content.  I promise, I am not getting paid to say this.  I just think it is a great way to reinforce those skills. I wish I had told you about this sooner.  But think of it as a great way to review before those End-of-the-Year Tests roll around. I guess what they say is true: "Better late than never"! Check it out!

It's a "Cell-ebration"


  


Thomas diagramed his cell using his tablet.
  


Plant Cell


Today we made incredible, edible cells.  I found a great video on School Tube, "The Cell is Like a City", which compares cell organelles and their functions to the different parts of a city.  The students watched the video at home while completing their graphic organizer for cells.  While making our cells we listened to "Parts of the Cell Rap".  After making their edible cells in class, they drew a diagram and labeled the different organelles.  In the words of Rachael Ray, "Yum-o"!


Animal Cell       

Diagramming Cells the old fashion way