Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thinking Maps and The Global Read Aloud

For several years, my teaching partner Ginny Limer has encouraged me to use Thinking Maps. She uses them daily in all subjects. I have used the circle map, but haven't ventured much farther until this past week. We are participating in The Global Read Aloud - a world-wide event where classes read the same book and then share via social media, blogging, skype, etc. We are in the second week of our reading of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and so far we have made predictions and asked questions with other classrooms via skype and blogging. Yesterday, I wanted my students to write about how Edward looked and felt before and after being thrown off the ship. Ginny has shared examples of the thinking maps with me, so I looked through to see which one would work best for this assignment. I chose the cause and effect map because the boxes were set up just the way I wanted. During a class discussion about our reading, each student completed their own thinking map. Using the map, they were able to easily organize their thoughts. This example is from a student who tends to get hung up and frustrated. The thinking map allowed him to be articulate and confident in his writing.

After writing, my students use an Editor's Checklist to assess their own work before turning in. I have found that this pushes them to scrutinize their own work more thoroughly.
The link to this check list can be found HERE
For more information on The Global Read Aloud click HERE 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Follow Me With Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I just signed up with Bloglovin because I have so many great blogs I follow, but it's hard to keep up with them. Bloglovin allows me to follow my favorite blogs and get updates on new posts! Now I won't miss out on anything new and wonderful from my fellow teacher bloggers!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Using Remind to Prepare Students for a Substitute

One morning last week I woke up feeling terrible. I went to bed the night before with chills and a headache, but thought I would be better after a good night's sleep. Wrong! There was no way I was making it to school that day.

After calling our secretary and informing her of my absence, my next thought was my kids. I have never been absent this year, so I wanted to prepare them before they got to school. I sent this Remind message to their parents and within minutes 3 had used the Stamp feature to let me know they had seen it!

The next day when I returned to school, I asked the students how many knew that there was going to be a sub before they came to school. Almost all of the students raised their hands! One of my students proudly told the class that his mom let him read the message.

The substitute left me a note saying how well the students behaved. I think that being able to alert them ahead of time really helped the day go smoother.

Thanks Remind! 

For more information on getting started, please visit Remind.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Big Event Fundraising $1000 Giveaway!

Big Event Fundraising has launched a $1,000 giveaway! 1 lucky school will win $1,000 worth of student prizes! Each package contains an assortment of prizes that are great for school stores, academic awards, fairs, carnivals, or special school events. 

Check out their giveaway page. Hurry! The giveaway ends on October 15th.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dot Day-ish

International Dot Day is celebrated on or about September 15th....ish. Thank goodness for the "ish" because this year we couldn't stick to just one day. We celebrated for a whole week! 

Betsye Sargeant of The Phoenix School in Salem, Mass. and I collaborated on the Dot Day Recipe Project. Originally created by librarian Matthew Winner, this project allowed for us to really delve deep into art, technology, and language arts. 

In a nutshell:
  • Read the books The Dot and Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. 
  • Students explore with paint and create color recipes using primary colors and white.
  • Students exchange recipes with another school and use the color to create a work of art. 
  • Students view each other's work, post on their blogs, and write thank-you notes to each other. 
  • example of a "thank you" blog post: click HERE

For the full lesson plan click HERE

Please enjoy our Dot Day 2014 video!

The Dot Big Screen Book - click HERE for more info


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Netsmartz Online Safety Lesson

This is our 3rd week of school and the students are ready to start blogging and exploring other web-based platforms. To prepare for our online activity, we have been using to learn about digital citizenship, netiquette, and online safety. Our first two visits to the computer lab were spent exploring the Netsmartz website which has great videos and activities that are geared toward a younger audience. Students can safely explore the site and play the games while learning what it is to be a digital citizen. 
Today we watched “Router’s Birthday Surprise” together and reviewed all of the safety rules that we have learned. We ended our lesson by signing an internet safety pledge. We are ready to be safe online and offline! This afternoon the students wrote their first blog post. Many of them wrote about what they have learned. Please visit our student blogs HERE. They did a great job for first time bloggers!
IMG_20140904_140029The videos and activities are fun and engaging so it makes learning about online safety fun!
2014-09-10 09.01.18Watching “Router’s Birthday Surprise”
2014-09-10 09.34.00Making our learning and thinking visible.
2014-09-10 09.32.40
2014-09-10 09.32.52Signing the Internet Safety Pledge.

UYN - Use Your Netsmartz! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tangled Web Team-Building Activity

photo credit: Louise Morgan

I love doing this activity the first week and throughout the year. It's fun to see how much better the students get at making the web and undoing it. They really have to work together as a team for it to be successful. 

Materials - 1 ball of yarn
Directions - To start, the group sits in a circle. From here you will give one of the members in your group a ball of string. This person will then say their name and one thing about themselves. E.g. “I have a brother” or “I like playing football”. Then any member of your group who has that thing in common puts their hand up. The person with the yarn chooses a person and rolls the ball of yarn to him/her. When the person receives the ball of yarn, they must hold on to the yarn before rolling it to the next person. The cycle then repeats. Continue until each person has had a turn and the class has created a huge web.  Talk about all of the different ways in which your group is interconnected. This will hopefully create a sense of unity between your members, as it visually depicts a number of commonalities that your group shares. 
Tip - Keep it moving. Some students will get tired of holding their string and will pull on it or mess with it. This is a great activity for demonstrating self control and how important it is work together.
Extension - After we have made our web a few times during the first few weeks, then we go backwards and try to undo the web by rolling the yarn in reverse order. It is very challenging but when they do it successfully, it is very rewarding.