Saturday, October 25, 2014

iTunes University

The last few days I have been at the Austin, TX Apple Campus. It is an amazing place! I wish I had pictures to share, but taking pictures is forbidden . . .

I was working with 150+  educators from across the state of Texas. We have been tasked with developing interactive, online content for learning standards. You might be familiar with iTunes University. In the past iTunes U has been mainly 6th grade through university courses. It is also a resource for just about any subject area and even teaching resources. (Download the app and take a look around!)

Here's a look at my library . . .

They are now adding K-5 courses for the core subject areas. Even though these lessons are aligned with Texas standards, anyone (not just Texas teachers) can use these them.


Here's a sneak peek! 

In each of these courses, teachers can find the integration of great apps, websites, videos for lessons.  The official roll out is set for January 2015. 

In the 2 days I was there, I met several great educators with so many wonderful teaching ideas and resources. We all go back to the Apple campus in November to finish up, but in the meantime . . . I can share some some of the great apps I learned about while collaborating with those fabulous Texas teachers!

Sorry, but it must wait until tomorrow. I've procrastinated enough! I need to write a paper on how our campus budget aligns to our campus improvement plan . . . sounds fun, doesn't it! (Gotta love grad school!)

Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wordless Videos & Inferencing

I love pictures and wordless picture books for working on inferencing skills.
Here are a few video for practice inferencing.

Notice body language and facial expressions. They tell a lot!




Do you have any other great videos for inferencing?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Slow Reading Club

Caught your attention, right?!
Were you thinking . . . "Really, who would create a slow reading club for students?"

It's not for students . . . it's for adults!


While Tanny McGregor, author of Genre Connections and Comprehension Connections, visited our district, she briefly brought up a new movement for an adult reading club!

The Slow Reading Club

What is a slow reading club? It's a group of people that get together at a designated time and silently read. It is like sustained silent reading time in your classroom . . . only for adults! Groups meet at a coffee bar, wine bar, or any location to just read …no discussing.
It’s all about scheduling time to read . . . for fun! The major part . . . disconnect from electronic devices!


It's all about making time for reading in your life. We live in a world where we skim websites, Pinterest, texts, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and emails. Slow reading clubs are about slowing down and enjoying what is written on the page.


"Once a week, members of a Wellington, New Zealand, book club arrive at a cafe, grab a drink and shut off their cellphones. Then they sink into cozy chairs and read in silence for an hour. The point of the club isn't to talk about literature, but to get away from pinging electronic devices and read, uninterrupted. The group calls itself the Slow Reading Club, and it is at the forefront of a movement populated by frazzled book lovers who miss old-school reading" - Jeanne Whalen, Wall Street Journal

Love this . . . 
Slow Reading Club’s mantra is: Calm Body, Curious Mind, Open Heart
Interested in starting a Slow Reading Club . . . here are a few sites.
Start a Slow Reading Club
10 Tips for Slow Reading

Happy slow reading!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tanny McGregor Visits!

Last Sunday, I was excited to host a dinner party for Tanny McGregor and several of our teachers that participated in a book study. Gotta be honest . . . I was kinda nervous. Coming to my house, the author that I have respected and admired from afar! Her strategies helped guide the instruction in my classroom . . . across content areas. Her ideas helped me talk to students about thinking about their thinking. Her ideas helped me talk to my students about "fake" reading and how we need to be cognizant of when we are fake reading and how to stop. Her ideas helped me post sentence stems in my classroom as a form of scaffolding for my students.

How do you prepare for an author coming to your house?
One must clean!
One must change out the seasonal decorative plate!

What does one serve?
When visiting San Antonio, one serves . . .
Enchiladas, fajitas, beans, rice, guacamole, and salad. 
Top it off with hibiscus tea in mason jars! (Anyone get the mason jar reference?)
(Thank you to our district chef! Very yummy!)

It was a wonderful evening of story telling, asking questions and girl chat!
Probably, the coolest moment (even though there were many) was when one of our teachers asked about folktales. She inquired about any ideas for a concrete connection? Within seconds, Tanny suggested bringing in a family heirloom of some sort, a baton for passing or even playing telephone! Bam! There it was!  Ideas flying . . . conversation flowing . . .

We ended the evening with a group photo and Tanny signing our books.While she signed ours, we signed hers. Yes, we signed her books.  Her personal books are filled with signatures of teachers and students that she has worked with over the years  . . . love this!

Labor Day PD with Tanny
Ok . . . I took 7 pages of (Word doc) notes from the day . . . books, links and tons of ideas. 
Don't worry . . . I'm not sharing my full 7 pages. Just the highlights . . .     :)

Our morning began with the lovely book, The Golden Rule, by Ilene Cooper.
In this story, a grandfather and his grandson see a billboard that reads, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." The billboard sparks a conversation between the grandfather and the grandson about the meaning of the saying. Why is it golden and whom is it for?
What a great way to begin the school year or have a conversation about creating a class community. The grandfather explains that all cultures have a version of this rule.
The best part, the grandfather brings it all back to his grandson . . . "Imagine what it would feel like if you were a new student at school..."

Beginning with the power of a story that starts a conversation . . . perfect!

On to . . . Text + Thinking = Real Reading 

What we’re hearing (the hot topics in big conferences)
·      More informational text
·      Less narrative/literary texts
·      More complex tests
·      More close reading
·      More cold reading
·      Less background knowledge
·      More reliance on textual evidence

What we know is best practices
·      Slowing down paying closer attention
·      Demanding clarity
·      Reading it again
·      Noticing, posing and pursuing questions
·      Taking a critical stance
·      Making notes / annotating
·      Supporting view with evidence from text (huge one)

Some of my favorite quotes . . .
"I want kids to know I welcome their confusion. That’s why I’m here."
"We want students to experience the 18 inch migration. When learning travels from the brain to the heart." (That's about how far it is from your brain to your heart.)
"How much of your time is devoted to kids and their thinking?"
"Building schema – the mother of all strategies!"



4 Shades of Grey!
Loved this idea that checks for understanding. Even for any content area.


Ended with the power of a story that starts a conversation . . . perfect!


Themes galore!
Complex text – intense emotional drama of friendship, belonging, temptation, risk, peer pressure, betrayal and staying true to yourself. 


Last bit to this really long post . . .
If you don't have Tanny's books, get them! Relevant and applicable.
If you ever get a chance to attend one of Tanny's professional development session, do! Even if you are a math, science, or social studies teacher, attend! She does a great job of showing the connection across subject areas.

Thanks, Tanny!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pre-Assessment Tech Tools Cont.

Clickers without the hefty price tag! No batteries!
Student response system! Paper clickers!
From Kinder to . . .

How does it work? The teacher posts a multiple choice or true/false question . . . students hold up their card with the correct answer positioned at the top of the card. Watch the magic happen!

Student answer choices are automatically recorded on the site. Watch the bar graph grow with student responses!

Quick set up:

Download the Free app to an iPad, iPhone or Android.
Create an account
Build classes on the website
Assign each student a number
Create a question bank either on the website or through the app
Print your Plicker cards

Laminate your student response cards or put them in protective sleeves

Here is an example of a Plicker sheet. They can easily be printed on card stock, laminated or put in a protective sleeve! It also helps to label the back of the card with the letter that corresponds with the answer.  This allows students to turn their card with the correct letter at the top.  Students keep the same card all year. If they happen to lose their card, you can go back to the site and print a new one.
Use task cards, PowerPoint or Keynote to post the questions for students to answer.
The Plicker people do a great job of walking you through the whole process of setting up your class for Plicker fun!

Next up . . .
Socrative . . . it's got a new look!
Create a teacher account.
No student accounts. Students login with their name.
Create a "room" that student access for answering questions. Can be a quiz, quick question, race, or exit ticket.
Pose a question on the "fly" or create a bank of questions. Then, select the type of quiz.
Space race is a huge hit with students. Groups working collaboratively answer questions . . .while watching their rocket race across the sky to the finish line!

I love the fact that they have a fantastic teacher guide.
Click {here} for a great teacher's guide to Socrative.

There are so many types of pre-assessement tools. A good friend of mine, Daniel, said top 3! Only top 3! Other than that, it becomes overwhelming!

Pick one and give it a go!