November 12, 2014

Genius Hour Every Friday is a MUST!

Oh my! It has been a looonnnnggggg time! Sorry everyone. I do have a great excuse though :) I am expecting baby #3 in May! These last 3 months have been...well, lets just say that I have been loving my saltine crackers a lot. Haha!

Well, every Tuesday I think of my BBB Holly and her fun/awesome Tried it Tuesday linky! I have a bunch of catching up to do, but I will take it slowly.


I read about something called Genius Hour over the summer and knew I had to try it. Click here to learn more.

Every Friday I give my students one hour to study whatever they want. They LOVE this time. I've even had students not go on family trips so they didn't miss Genius Hour (not even kidding). They use their Chromebooks to research, keep their notes, and all that jazz. The requirements were to present 10 new facts they learned, 10 facts they already knew, and to have at least 5 visuals/models.

Today, we had our presentations and they turned out great! Here are a few pictures...

A student presenting


I had a couple students build models. This student actually built a snake robot. It slithered, hissed, and reached out to bite if you walked in front. I had another student make a very detailed model of the solar system. Both were very awesome. Wish I would have taken more pictures!

More presenting going on.


I had the students grade each other based on a 1, 2, 3 scale and also grade themselves. Genius Hour is definitely a keep in our classroom! 

July 14, 2014

Bottle Cap Multiplication Game

At the beginning of June I was stalking looking at Tara's amazing blog and saw her amazing Pop Top Math game for multiplication facts. I am ALWAYS on the lookout for multiplication fact games! So knew, KNEW this one had to join the ranks. I called my mom, my grandma and my mother-in-law and told them to start saving all their lids.

Well, fast forward a couple weeks and I was at a conference in Park City, Utah and the people catering the event gave us Stewart's Root Beer for lunch one day. Ummm...YUM! As I went to chuck my trash the boys serving the food were just about to throw away a cup full of the bottle caps from the root beer. The crazy teacher in me immediately stopped them in a 'I am a crazy person' way and I ended up with the caps. Do any of you ever do crazy stuff like that? Anyway, all the teachers around me groaned because they KNEW I had scored on this one! One lady even offered me $10 for my 50 bottle caps, which was kinda weird. 

This is good stuff.

In my Math rotations I use the letters M   A   T   H - go figure :) The M stands for Math Facts. During this rotation the kids are always working with facts. Always. 

So, I made my game own Pop Top game and here is how it turned out...



I like it...a lot!

Make sure to link up with Tara for today's Monday Made It!





July 8, 2014

Table Signs and Alphabet Display

I'm double dipping today. Hope you guys are okay with that. I am linking up with Holly for Tried it Tuesday and with Tara for Monday Made it!


   

So, have you heard of schoolgirlstyle.com? Well, if you haven't then you need to go check out Melanie's amazingness


I waited and waited this year to see the fun classroom styles she would create and I wasn't disappointed! I had a very hard time deciding what my classroom was going to look like for this next school year. Finally, I decided upon her Blue Paisley Pop Classroom Theme!


Isn't it gorgeous! The pink has been taken and the yellow will be an accent. The main colors will be the blue and green. I even talked to our school secretary and she ordered the lime green butcher paper for me! 

So, here is what I have made so far. The colors are MUCH MORE vibrant in person. Trust me. They match the colors from the above picture!

This is my alphabet banner that will be hung on my wall. I made the whole alphabet, not just the first 4 letters :-) I haven't found the perfect ribbon to string it up with yet, but I will!


These are my table signs. A-F...six tables. They will hang from lanterns with the cute ribbon I mentioned above. 

So the "Tried It" part of this post is the yellow and making my own decorations. I really tried adding more yellow into these but I just can't do it! I am loving the blue and green together!!!!!!!

I have been using my Cricut and stamps to make these. 
I love my Cricut! My stamps too! 

Make sure you check out the linky parties! Have a great day everyone!




June 26, 2014

Virtual Field Trips = AMAZING!

My fourth grade team has 4 teachers and this past year we each had around 25-28 kids. We were able to take our kids on one field trip (this one was paid for through a grant) that involved an hour and a half bus ride (both ways), one field trip to the dinosaur museum in town, and then we went bowling at the end of the year. When these were over we didn't have enough to get a bus to go anywhere especially since we live in a remote part of Utah.

Enter virtual field trips.

In February I was approached by my district's amazing instructional technology leader and he asked if I would be interested in doing a virtual field trip. Ummm...yes! So, looking through the Center for Interactive Learning site I selected a trip and away we went. The article below is from our district web site.





Originally posted on SJSD Blog on February 11, 2014

Something fairly amazing happened yesterday at Blanding Elementary School. Mrs. Tina Crofts and her fourth grade students spent time in the morning learning about the water cycle. (At this point you are probably thinking “Well, that sounds like a pretty typical topic for an elementary science class...” but keep reading because what they were learning about isn’t nearly as amazing as where they were learning about it.)
Mrs. Crofts and her class took a field trip as part of their study on the water cycle. So where did they go? They went to the Texas State Aquarium. In Corpus Christi. And they were back before lunch. Really.

So how did they make it to Corpus Christi and back again in time for lunch and with time to learn about the water cycle and see sharks, dolphins, and alligators (oh, my)?
British author Arthur C. Clarke once stated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Thanks to the district's commitment to providing the best technology it can, having a resident distance education magician, Wesley Hunt, and the power of technology, the students in Mrs. Croft’s class were able to take a live, virtual field trip to the Texas State Aquarium. It was an amazing opportunity for many of the students (and staff present) to see the kinds of marine life that many only get to read about and to ask questions and receive expert insight from the tour guide at the aquarium. A truly amazing experience.
In what may have been the first virtual field trip like this to occur in the district, these fourth grade students were able to see a Sand Tiger Shark swim across the screen from the comfort of their classroom (and learn why--for the most part--it doesn’t eat the other fish in the tank!) along with seeing other aquatic life while having their understanding of the water cycle solidified in a truly engaging way. Below is a short slideshow you can watch (you may want to hit the "full screen" icon) that may give a sense of the magic that was in this classroom yesterday. We hope this is simply the first of such magical moments via virtual field trips to occur in the district…




Keep learning.

Josh

June 25, 2014

100 Minutes - Chapter 9 & The Conclusion

Thinking of Teaching


Chapter 9 is already here! I have loved this book and am very excited to incorporate the ideas into my classroom. I am very excited to host this last chapter and the conclusion! As a teacher who has an entire set of Chromebooks in my classroom, I totally and completely connected with this chapter. Now, on to the good stuff!

Integrating Digital Technology and Media Literacy (page 139)
--"Technology should support and expand students' learning and directly connect to the content and skills that are being taught during other instructional times." Such a fabulous thought. Too many teachers use technology as busy work and don't understand the power technology has in educating children.
--The main advantage of technology is the fact that it will "connect our students to the world" and "remove our classroom boundaries."
--"Digital tools are not a new element in teaching; in reality, they are no longer even considered optional." Oh my! Such an awesome thought! The entire educational community needs to believe and act upon these words. Too many teachers are still teaching without any technology and don't realize the world we live in is so very much a technology age. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe some things are better done with good old fashioned paper and pencil, but not everything!
--"By integrating digital tools into our classrooms, we allow our students to apply their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in authentic learning situations." I am such a believer of this!
--By integrating technology we are helping our students become "globally aware, more proactive, and more engaged." Who wouldn't want that?

Lisa goes on to introduce us to The Six Cs of Digital Literacy (pages 140-144) and I love down-to-earth common sense of these!

1. Connect - students are able to connect to the outside world through virtual field trips and images. They no longer need to be passive observers.

2. Communicate - "Communication in the 21st century seamlessly flows between face-to-face interactions and online communications." Many educators don't use technology because the technological world is a scary place to them. My advice is to just start simply; use one aspect of technology and build from there.

3. Create - creativity = inspiration, inspiration = engagement. "Through the use of digital tools, students can synthesize and integrate their learning in creative ways."

4. Collaborate - Student collaboration is a must in the learning environment. Using technology enables this aspect in such a simple manner by using Google Drive, blogs, Edmodo, etc.

5. Consolidate - "Learning is most powerful when studnets are able to apply it and transfer it to new situations."

6. Critically Analyze - Using technology helps students learn to be "critically literate" and as teachers we need to educate them.

Working with What You've Got
-"Whatever the challenges you face, the solution comes with creativity and flexibility." Amen, amen. Flexibility is the key to challenges. 
-Lisa continues by giving suggestions on how to use a few devices during the 100 Minutes. She suggests having the kids take turns by assigning them a day. This way they will have enough time to actually log in, and get enough quality time to work.

On Lisa's blog she, which she quotes in the book, talks about Kinetic Learning. I LOVE this part! I was at some teacher conference somewhere and someone replaced the word 'kinetic' with 'real'. So kinetic learning=real learning. Lisa has 5 Principles of Kinetic Learning and they are:
1. Kinetic Learning focuses on skills rather than content.
2. Kinetic Learning is forward-thinking.
3. Kinetic Learning is authentic and purposeful.
4. Kinetic Learning is multi-faceted.
5. Kinetic Learning is why and how based.

Conclusion
-I am loving this conclusion. It struck me as amazing and brilliant! The awesome presentation of the conclusion was perfect to wrap-up this great book. 
-Lisa encourages us that "the simple establishment of a routine is not sufficient to keep it going." We need to keep things exciting and interesting. "All routines need maintenance." Make sure to keep your students interested so they will be motivated to be successful!

Thank you Lisa Donohue! This book was exactly what I needed to improve classroom.



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May 24, 2014

Balanced Literacy - 100 Minutes

Thinking of Teaching

I am SO excited to be joining in on this book study! I have been read the first few chapters of Lisa Donohue's book and now that school is officially out (hip-hip!) I can sit down and devour the rest. Hope you join us in the awesome book study!



Students need time for:
-explicit teaching
-guided learning
-independent work

"Technology should never be an additional thing to teach...but instead be an integrated component of daily instruction." (p. 14) Love this! I get asked all the time by other teachers how they should teach their students to use a computer program or an app. I constantly tell them "don't" because all they need to do is show the kids what they should be doing and the students will catch on (with a few exceptions) and run with it. Our students know how to use technology better than we do most of the time.

"The concept of anything other than the 21st century is ancient history to our youngsters." (p. 14) 
Enough said.

"...routines need to continue to deepen and become richer as the year progresses." (p. 15)  This was an "ah-ha sentence for me. I constantly revisit our Daily 5 routines, but I seldom deepen them. Lisa Donohue, you are brilliant!

"Once routines become stale and mundane student engagement quickly decreases." (p. 15) Students need a variety of choices with "familiar routines."

Lisa goes on to talk about "The Basics" of the 100 minute literacy block. I loved this part of the book because I love, love, love seeing into other classrooms and that is what this section felt like to me.

100 Minute Literacy Block

Reading Time - Whole Class - 20 to 30 Minutes
(this is what I think of as Shared Reading in my classroom)
-introduce strategies
-model thinking
-student discussion
-question students (Blooms Taxonomy)

AWARD Time - Individual/Small Group Work - 40 minutes
-students work individually on skills or with the teacher

Writing Time - Whole Class - 20 to 30 Minutes
-introduce writing strategies
-model writing
-discuss writing

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." (p. 18)

Lisa ends with a section titled "100 Minutes in Action" that gives us a glimpse of this process over a couple months. This part is priceless! Can't wait for more :)
How to deepen my routines. This part made me think so much. I've started to come up with some ideas that will be shared later on!

I don't have a "100 minute" block of time next year. Sad, right? So I will have to figure out how to break this up in two sections. I can totally do it, but I wish I had that 100+ minutes.

-How do you all "deepen" your routines?
-What do daily schedules of other teachers look like with the 100 minutes built in?




Make sure to link up with Beth over at Thinking of Teaching with your thoughts and follow along with us on this awesome book study journey!

May 5, 2014

Have Fun Teaching

Have Fun Teaching needs your help! They have just launched a BIG IDEA on KickStarter that will help kids all over the world learn how to read! Join The Movement - Click Here.



If this project is funded during the month of MAY, Have Fun Teaching will be creating 220 Sight Word Music Videos that will give teachers and parents a fun and effective way to help children become better readers!

Here is a sample video for the Sight Word, "IS":


Every little bit helps and you can even receive awesome Rewards for backing this project!


April 29, 2014

Literacy Block Book Study

Thinking of Teaching

I love my literacy block and Daily 5. I feel like something small, but significant is missing though. Do you ever feel that way? 

I am joining with Beth at Thinking of Teaching for this awesome book study! She is having a giveaway too, but it ends soon! We will be studying Lisa Donohue's book, 100 Minutes: Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block and you should join us! Hop on over the Beth's blog and check out more!

April 8, 2014

Reviewing & Center Fun!


I love this linky! Holly is the best. Make sure to check out the linky or link up!

My classroom is in total review mode. I have been using this book and love it!
This is a digital download and comes with 882 pages of colorful activities and assessments. I should be getting some moola here for the promotion, but I am not :) 

Here are a few examples:




I put the math activities in folders because they had lots of pieces. There is an activity for EVERY standard! 



The reading activities are in file folders and come with a bunch of amazing graphic organizers. 


Short and sweet post, but I really wanted to post about this book. LOVING IT! Have a great Tuesday everyone!

April 5, 2014

Teaching with Faith


I love this linky with Jessica. You should totally go check it out. I couldn't get through the day without my faith. Have a great weekend!


March 10, 2014

Guided Reading Lesson Plans

Hey everyone! I love love love my GR lesson plans and I have never shared them. So on my first official day of SpRiNg BrEaK! I am going to give you a glimpse into my GR lessons.

First off, I have my students grouped by colors. So, my lesson plans are colored to match the group. I make one lesson plan, laminate the pages and use a Vis-a-Vis marker on them all year!

Here are my laminated lesson plans. As you can see, I currently have 5 groups going on. 



They are double sided and 5 days total with day 1 and 2 on the front and 3-5 on the back.



My groups are also sorted depended on my spelling groups as well. You might notice that my students are reading different things each day. I am having them do a weather set with different articles on weather. 

Here is a picture of the plans from my computer.



Day 1: We do a complete study of the Words Their Way list for that group.

Day 2: The new book is introduced with a reading strategy.

Day 3: We continue reading the book and working on strategies.

Day 4: We review and do a more Guided Writing lesson.

Day 5: I meet with the students individually within their groups. The other students in the group book shop and read.

If you have read Jan Richardson's Guided Reading book, then you will recognize my lesson plans. I revised them to fit my needs though and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them!

February 23, 2014

Teaching with Faith

I study my scriptures in the morning before anyone is awake. I love this peaceful time of my day. I try and find one scripture in my study that will influence my day. At the beginning of this past week I completely stumbled across a scripture and it stuck with me. Thank goodness it did, because it was a crazy school day - unexpected assembly, fire drill, multiple kids checked in and out, and a team disagreement. You know the days :)

Well, here is the scripture that helped me IMMENSELY through my day...



I don't think I need to explain. All I will say is that I kept thinking, "don't be a fool, Tina." The day was a crazy one, but it went okay because of this wonderful scripture I stumbled upon in the Old Testament. Thank you Heavenly Father!

Join Jessica and link up with your inspiration. I would love to read about it, because I need all the inspiration I can get :)

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