Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Healthier ME!

While a goal of mine is definitely to begin blogging more and reaching the status of many other educators out there in our field.  I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics, a blog that I began following a few years back when I used to teach 4th grade.
4th Grade Frolics
I've always wanted to join a linky, so I guess this is now the perfect time to do it. :) As educators, we always strive to do the best for our students and we work constantly to make sure that happens. However, often doing that we forget about taking care of the teacher.

2013 was a busy year for me. Not only did I change grade levels and get to spend two years in a row with my lovely students, but I accomplished a whole year of being vegan and completing 2, half marathons! That is something I never dreamed of doing. A large goal of mine is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon one day, but in order to do that I need to take care of me first.

My struggle with fatigue has been something that has increased over the years. Granted I have worked in two very active careers after college, but there is nothing medically that can be found as the cause. In order to take better care of myself, I'm testing out being gluten-free as well in 2014. There are many vegan blogs and articles in cyber world that link gluten and fatigue together, so hopefully this will give me the small boost that I need to keep active for my 27 children at school and my lovely 2 year old princess at home. If anything, it will definitely make me a healthier eater in the end.

Have a happy, healthy New Year!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I apologize for the incredibly late post. Between report cards and gearing up for winter break, I really do look up to those that can blog on a regular basis.

One website I have been meaning to write a review on is Padlet. I originally found this website while browsing an educational blog by, Mr. G. Online. After discovering an idea for the Think 3D app on the iPad, Mr. G. also was discussing his integration of Padlet as an ongoing management tool in the classroom. So..... I decided to check it out.

I have used Padlet twice in the class thus far, both for math instruction. It is a really cool website to host a math talk on, where it will allow everyone to contribute to a post at once. The nice thing about the discussion is that you can even post pictures.

If you go to Padlet and create an account, you can start your very own collection of walls. For this specific example, I assigned my students a "Volume at Home" activity. They had to find a prism at home that they could snap a picture of with their iPads. Then, they used Skitch to label the dimensions of the figure.

Once the students came prepared to school, we took our images and posted to Padlet for our math talk. Students then selected an image to calculate the volume of. This is a great, quick and fun way to incorporate math from home and have everyone contribute at once. Imagine using this for literally any discussion in your classroom. Your students won't need an account to participate, just share the QR code, link or embed it into another website for them to see. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gossiping About Books

One challenge for myself, and I believe any teacher who is just beginning Reader's Workshop in a 1:1 classroom, is learning how to integrate the technology into the new curriculum.

My students have been working extremely hard to identify character traits, sometimes to get ELL learners to describe a character can be quite the challenge. We did some fun activities last week where students pretended to be the main characters from our read aloud and then we stuck post-it notes to them to describe the character. This was by far more entertaining than sticking the post-its onto a wall or chart paper. ha ha

The students expanded on this trait activity by doing a comparison of themselves to a main character in their book. Students mapped out their traits with a web and then compiled their list into a wordle website so any traits that they had in common would eventually pop out larger than the other words. 

I have a habit of constantly changing my plans. I'll be on my drive into school when all of a sudden, a new idea will hit me. In our first session, in the 2nd book of Lucy Calkins' Reading Workshop, Lucy introduces her mini lesson with the conversations that are heard in the hallway and how students should talk about books just as they talk with their friends before or after school. So, we decided to turn "gossip" into a positive thing in 5th grade so we can "gossip" about our books as we construct our theories. I found a great FREE app in the App Store called Comic Maker. I had the students flag, or post-it, their gossip/reactions as they were reading and in turn the students are creating comics to illustrate their gossip. They were excited to begin and I look forward to reading them!

Monday, November 18, 2013

MyON Reader

This year our school is piloting a MyON reading program that has an app even for the iPad! Similar to Accelerated Reader, students can complete a quiz after they have finished a book.

The great thing that my students like about this program, is that they have a whole digital library at their fingertips with a wide variety of genres! Students take a benchmark test and interest survey when they begin the program, it then recommends books for them based on their lexile and interests. Today, I observed a student reading a graphic novel about Zombies explaining Force and Motion! This was something that really grabbed his attention.

For teachers, it even allows you to pull reports where you can easily identify the improvements your students are making or if they are choosing to read books that are vacation (below their level) or future (too advanced for now).

Yes, this can even be incorporated into the Reading Workshop! Students can use digital post-its if you want them to multitask between applications or you can even have them keep a log in their reading life notebooks. As we are just being introduced to reader's workshop this year, I prefer my students to jot their notes down via notebook until they can properly express their thinking.

Parents.... ask your students what they are reading...have a great discussion!

Thanks to Ms. G, a 4th grade teacher, who shared her poster where I was able to grab inspiration from.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Class Dojo..a favorite!

Today's favorite App: Class Dojo I'm sure many have heard of Class Dojo and are aware of the features, but it is one App that I love to use when managing my classroom. Last year, before integrating Class Dojo, I experimented with different color cards in a chart pocket, even created a custom clip chart that fit with my Mac themed room. The clip chart was a great visual for students, but I felt that it was more of a time waste having to remind students to clip down or up. Class Dojo takes the same concept as a clip chart, but it puts a fun avatar twist for the students. Pros for the teacher: custom behaviors, you can pull custom behavior reports, easy access to reflect on student behavior for the year, easy to use from iPhone, iPad or android device, best of all.... parents can sign up to receive emailed reports on their students. Pros for students: they can design their own avatar, older students can login independently to check and monitor their progress daily.

 Check it out for yourself!

Class Dojo Website

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apple TV Morning Announcements

One thing I have found quite happy with the installation of the Apple TV in the classroom, is using a photo stream to project morning announcements. One of our technology directors informed me a principal in our district was using this method to deliver her announcements in the hallway. I had honestly never experimented with photo streams to much, but thought I would give it a go. Well... I absolutely love it and so do my students.

I have started a photo stream for each day of the week. Most of my announcements stay the same, just the morning tasks may change. In that case, a new picture is added when needed. Here is how I do it....

1. Use Keynote or another presentation program to create as many slides as you would need for your announcements. Mine are pretty basic.... one welcome slide, one morning routine slide, one morning work direction slide.

2. Then, export the slides as images and save them into iPhoto.

3. Create the album and give it a name...example: Tuesday Announcements

4. Share it with your photo stream and you are ready to go on the Apple TV as long as your iCloud account is connected and shared between the devices.

I just love the themes that you can pick for the steam and most of all, my students love listening to music. It has really engaged them and made our mornings more productive!

How it all started

At the new year of 2013, I officially said goodbye to being a vegetarian after many years and welcomed the lifestyle change of vegan.  My husband had been a vegan for nearly a year already and saw many health benefits, so I figured I would accept the challenge as well. After all, just dropping dairy from my diet would be easy....right?

I think the hardest challenge was leaving cheese behind. Becoming a vegan baker turned into a fun challenge, learning how to substitute natural ingredients for the oils and dairy that used to be included. I'm not much of a cook in the kitchen, but baking is one thing I do enjoy when I can gather some free time.

I wanted to get back into more physical exercise, after having my daughter in 2010, and running was the route I chose. I had never been much of a runner in school, I loved to play sports, but running was never my thing. I'm not as dedicated to training as my husband, but I made a goal to run a half marathon in 2013...well, I did it! In May of 2013, I officially became a half marathon runner! I am not a fast runner by any means, but it was still an accomplishment to finish.

Running races is like a serious addiction, once you have done one, you look forward to entering another. After a handful of 5Ks and the first half marathon under my belt, I decided to enter another half marathon that would be held in the fall of 2013. I contemplated for the longest time on if I would challenge myself to run a full marathon, but in the end, I am glad that I only ran another half. It allowed me to really put my additional training to the test and try to learn from my mistakes the first time.
1. Pace yourself, don't start off to quickly and stick to a pace time.
2. Make sure the facilities are used prior to running so you don't waste minutes on end in line at the 3 mile marker Port-O-Pot.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Practices to pay off, as I completed my 2nd, half marathon, 23 minutes faster than the first! I look forward to hopefully another race soon!

1st Half Marathon (May 2013)
2nd Half Marathon (November 2013)