Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In Search of the Perfect Room Arrangement

"Teacher" Desk

When I moved to my new room, I also inherited a teacher desk, a nice new teacher desk by the way. . . with nice drawers.  I haven't used a traditional desk for years, but it was nice to have the drawer space.  So I kept it. . .  and felt guilt about the enormous amount of space it took up.

Then one day it hit me!  So I swapped the desk with one of the computer tables.  I put the student desktop computer on top of the teacher desk and it became a shared space.  The sign-out sheet is there and students use the desktop computer when they need to.  I have a little space on the left side plus I get to keep those drawers! Problem solved.

Now what to do with that extra computer table?  I couldn't just toss it. So I moved it to the front of the room (where I had my trapezoid table). Now I have enough space for both my laptop and my document camera.  I also gained extra space to work one-on-one with students at this table. Sweet!

Computer table

This is where my desk used to sit

I have 2 couches. I love the comfy feeling they give my room. Students are free to choose these spaces to enjoy a book or to complete assignments. One is in the whole group meeting area and the other is in the class library.  I thought I might have to give 1 away when I moved. As it turns out I was able to keep them both.
Reading Corner, but not really a corner
Whole group meeting space

Waiting Spot
I almost got rid of this worn out well loved puzzle seat.  I am so glad I didn't.  It is now the official "waiting spot". Let me explain.  I am adjusting to the fact that my little darlings are a bit more needy than my fifth graders.  I've even tried "Ask 3 before me", but it seems there are a few that always have something that needs my personal attention.  So now, when I am working with a group or an individual student and another student is "puzzled" and needs my attention, they sit on the puzzle piece and patiently wait.  I call them over as soon as I have a break.  This helps them and me.  I haven't been interrupted once since we started this.  It's only been 1 day, but what a difference a day  makes!

These are the major changes I've made in my room since school started.  Anyone who knows me knows I am always looking for the perfect room arrangement.  I think I may have found it . . . time will tell!

Update: I went to my room the other day (yes, it was during Fall Break) and moved a shelf to the end of that table behind the puzzle.   It made the writing supplies more accessible to the students and it gave me a little more space near that chart tablet to the right of the puzzle. I'll have to see how it works when the kids come back tomorrow.  I guess there is no such thing as the perfect arrangement after all!

Please tell me I'm not the only person who is always looking for a better solution and changing their room around?  Leave your comments below.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Celebrating Dot Day

We celebrated Dot Day last Friday.  This was a perfect way to introduce ourselves to our Global Read Aloud buddies. After reading The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds, we made postcards. On the back we introduced ourselves and shared a little about ourselves, without revealing any personal information of course!  Then we decorated the front using tiny dot stickers.

I will mail these to the class we have connected with in California and they will send us their postcards.  Once we receive their postcards, we will use them to help us pick our book buddies for the Global Read Aloud which begins in October. The kids are so excited!

The Dot helped us learn about theme.  The students discussed Vashti's character at the beginning of the story and then again at the end.  Some of the themes we came up with were perseverance and compassion.

We also used the ColAR app to make our dots come alive.  Students took screen shots and posted them on Edmodo to share with their classmates.  In the words of  Jackson, "Dot Dayhttp://fablevisionlearning.com/blog/2013/08/dot-day-fun-watch-your-dot-come-to-life-in-amazing-3d-in-the-colar-app/ is Wicked!"

Our class having fun on Dot Day!

The official Dot Day song! I didn't even know there was one.  :-)

If you celebrated International Dot Day, please leave a comment and share what you did below.  

Arrays in the Real World

We are just beginning our multiplication unit.  The students needed to be able to relate repeated addition to multiplication.  We began by watching a great video I found on YouTube, "Real Life Arrays" By Miss DuBose.  Then the students were ready to find their own.  They went on an array hunt (in small groups) all around the school. I had a parent volunteer help with this part of the activity. Armed with their iPads, they took photos of all the different arrays they found.  And they found tons of them!

The next day, they picked their favorite photos for their project.  They used Pic Collage to show how repeated addition and multiplication are related.  They also had to include a title and of course their name.  I was able to assess some language standards ("capitalize appropriate words in a title" and "forms and uses possessives") as well as their math standard ("represents multiplication as multiple groups of the same number").  I am going to print them out and bind them together in a book.  It was our first time using Pic Collage in third grade! Not sure why some of the  "+" symbols changed, but I think they turned out nice!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What I Know About Flipping 3rd Grade . . . TODAY

This is Week 6 in Third Grade and I have quickly learned that flipping does NOT look like in did in my fifth grade class!  Here's what I know about flipping 3rd grade . . . TODAY:

1.  My videos have to be short,  real short.  I mean 3-5 minutes short.  Closer to 3 minutes.

2.  My videos must be straight to the point.  I am almost taking notes for them.  I actually say "Step 1...., Step 2...." and "write this down"( Now that I think about it, I probably should have said that all along).

3.  I remind them to write the date, title, and important info. during the video a lot.

4.  I also went back to using a graphic organizer and having them glue it into their math notebooks.  and finally . . .

5.  Crystal, I revised your W-S-Q.  "S"  now stands for "list the STEPS" instead of summarize.  So they W-watch the video (write the title ), S- list the steps, and Q-write 1 question they have.

Here is an example of 1 of my student's notes from a video.  I just took a picture of this one because it was an excellent example of what their notes should look like.  I know, we still need to work on coming up with a higher level question.  :-)  I will share some others later.

Oh yea, another big difference . . . for the most part the students are watching the videos in class while I am working with other students.  I also use the video after I have done a "quick-teach" (I think I just made that up) or face-to-face preview of what they will learn in the video.

Update:  Here are some other examples of WSQ notes:

Pretty good, huh?:-) 

Living Above the Line

Several years ago (and I do mean several) our school embraced "Quantum Teaching".   Does anyone remember this?  We attended training and had to incorporate the ideals in our lesson plans and ultimately change our way of teaching.  I believe this may have been the catalysts for whole brain teaching.

Anyway . . . today I actually called upon a particular aspect of Quantum Teaching known as "Living Above the Line". After having had a discussion ( for the ump-teenth time) about accepting responsibility and being kind to others, I pulled out a sheet of paper and we had a discussion about what it meant to live "Above the Line".  The students gave several suggestions of what that meant and looked like.  Then we talked about living "Below the Line". They gave more suggestions of what this would look like.  This also gave me an opportunity to talk about some common prefixes and root words.  Had to throw a little content in there.

But the real magic happened later during reading.  We are learning how to identify the theme in literature.  We had just reread The Dot* by Peter H. Reynolds and we were trying to identify the theme of the book.  So we took a look at the main character, Vashti, and how she changed during the story.

When I asked  the students what was she like in the beginning of the story, one of my darlings raised their hand and said "She was living below the line"!  I almost feel out of my chair!

 I was so excited. When I got home I searched for that book.  Low and behold, there it was on my shelf!  I may need to revisit and revise that chart with the kids.  The line is supposed to represent "responsibility" and there are some other characteristics/habits that should be included as well.  But I think they got the message!  Let's see if it makes a difference.

*If you are reading The Dot for Dot Day, check out this idea using colAR app.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Whew!!  That's how I felt after screen-casting my first video for my third grade students this year.  I originally thought I would begin with handwriting videos, but it seemed so easy and natural to begin with math.  That is how I began flipping in fifth.

I thought I had worked out all the bugs 3 years ago but guess what. . . I had a different document camera this year (remember I moved to a new classroom) and it hadn't occurred to me that I would need to do anything different.  That is until I got ready to record.  That's when I realized I didn't know how to make what I was doing with the document camera show up on my laptop.  I told you before I am not really a techie person; I just ask a lot of questions.

So, I posted a message on Edmodo and my Area Tech Coordinator informed me that I need to put in a request to have the software for the document camera installed on my laptop. So after a phone call, our Tech Support came out and installed the software. Yea!!  I love my Tech support people! (Big smile) So here I sit  ready to post my new video.  I just need School Tube to be a little bit faster with the video approval process.

How are my third grade students adjusting to technology, iPads, and Edmodo?  They are coming along. . . We started using Vocabulary/Spelling City Today and only 1 person asked me for their username and password.  All of their usernames and passwords are the same for each of their accounts.  That makes it a little easier.We are getting there.  If the truth be told, I think the parents are the ones that are having to adjust the most.