Saturday, April 5, 2014

Protect a Peep - STEM Challenge

Peeps!  It's that time of year!
Sparkly-colored pure sugar, yumminess!
They are everywhere! What better item to use in our second to last GEMS (Girls Excelling in Mathematics and Science) after school club meeting?!!!

Smart Chicks has Peeps STEM activities!  Her "Got Peeps" packet was perfect for our  STEM challenge. 

I didn't get any strange looks at the check out !

After looking through the 5 different types of Peeps challenges, I selected  . . .

It's interesting when you are seen hauling in tons of Peeps, the stories you hear. Either people love them or . . . dislike them . . . immensely!

What's really interesting is how Peeps lovers have a story to tell about how they eat their Peeps!
For me, it's half a Peep and I'm good until next year.

Others . . .
~Eat half the box while shopping, pay for them and then ask the cashier to throw the rest away.
~ Stale!
~ Frozen!
~ Nuked in the microwave!

But, I digress! Back to the challenge . . .
The girls were super excited to take on the challenge of protecting their Peep!
What I love about our GEMS club is that every design is different, we celebrate failure, we redesign, and we laugh!
These girls know they can take a risk and there is no judgement. They get that science is fun.
They understand that if they ask a question, a question will be directed back to push them to problem solve. 

There are those moments when you know all is right in the universe! When, from a distance, you listen to the conversation in the room . . . 
"I'm soooo doing GEMS next year!"
"I don't want GEMS to end!"
"I love GEMS!"
"I've been doing GEMS since I was in first grade (2nd grader) and I'm doing it until I leave Woodridge!"
It's at that moment that you know that the work you've put into it, has made a difference.

I have to be honest, I was going to take a break from GEMS. It's challenging to come up with different activities twice a month, for 2 years, but after hearing this . . . GEMS must continue. How can it not?
It's all about the girls!

To all my little Peeps, GEMS will continue!

Monday, March 31, 2014

April Currently!

Say what?!!!
It's no joke that in 1 minute it's April Fool's Day!
Join Farley in the April Currently!

Listening - It's way late for me and it's a testing night!!! The hubby and puppy are sound asleep and I just finished watching Southern Charm. 

Loving: I found a really cute dress at Ross for $14.99. It is going to be my outfit for the Keynote that I'm giving in 2 weeks! (insert...biting nails-super nervous!) Plus, love the painting that my dear friend and fabulous art teacher is painting for the doors that lead to our amazing outdoor learning environment!

Thinking: Tomorrow, our state testing starts! Long story, short . . . due to time constraints and slow network at school, I downloaded the Maverick operating system and the dictation - speech to text system on computers for our kiddos that have this accomodation. Who knew, that what they had been using all year, required Internet access which is not allowed during the test?!!! Finished downloading the "offline version" about 10:00pm! These kiddos are ready to rock the test!!!

Wanting:  To see my daughter's face when she opens the fridge to make her lunch!
Needing: We have gone over the math strategies that she needs!!! Enough said!

Kids are 3:00, teachers are 3:30 but, I rarely leave before 4:00!
Due to my new position, my contract is 2 days longer! It's all good!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Penguins, Morocco, HEB and GEMS

Comparing height, weight, looking at characteristics, describing habitats and adaptations, is all part of the first grade penguin unit at our school. Last year during a Wordless Wednesday linky. I posted pictures of the great learning going on during this unit. 
This year, I shared with the teachers these fun Penguin cams! I have enjoyed watching these fun and playful little creatures. I've listed a few penguin cams below. These are great for writing observations about animal behaviors.

Click on the picture for a free penguin observation journal. Students can do a daily check-in to see see the behavior of the penguins. It might help to create a penguin vocabulary anchor chart with words that describe their behavior to help young students write their observations.

A third grade teacher at our school was in the Peace Corp. She is still active in the organizations, so she was able to organize a Skype session all the way to Morocco! Students began researching the land of Morocco and it's traditions. The 3 cute girls, on their own, created a poster to share with the Peace Corp. worker. Prior to the actual Skype session, I helped the class practice their Skyping skills! They did a great job. It was very interesting to learn about the Moroccan land, culture and traditions. 

Another great GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math and Science) after school session. Based on feedback from last year, the girls wanted more math related activities. This session was on symmetry in the natural world. We looked at symmetry in nature and architecture. Then, we created name symmetry monsters. Super creative girls!

Our district is a finalist for the HEB Excellence in Education Award. I was honored to be part of the district panel who were interviewed by the HEB judging committee. May is the big award ceremony where they announce the winner!  Fingers crossed!

Alamo Heights Independent School District, a finalist in the 2014 large school district category, is the heart of its community. The district strives to educate and empower every student to excel academically and as a confident, compassionate citizen.

This morning, one of my former teammates, Nancy, posted the graphic below on Facebook. It could not have come at a better time. This has been some week! 
This graphic is now sitting on my camera roll!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

OLE, Mystery Skype, & QR Codes

Update on our school outdoor learning environment!
This has been a vision of mine for 4 years!
It is literally, coming to life! The different areas are taking shape! It has exceeded all my expectations and I can't wait for the students to start using this space.  There are 4 major zones. Desert, mountain, tropical and grasslands. Each area has plants that are found in that particular region.

Yesterday, I introduced a kinder class to QR codes! Kindergarten Smorgasboard has a wonderful product in his TPT store that I purchased to use for modeling QR codes in kinder classrooms. This particular lesson had students scan the QR code, analyze the ten frame and write the number that was represented by the picture. The task cards had a dog theme so I brought in two of my daughter's stuffed doggies! As each group finished a task card, they moved the card to the other pile and had the puppy sit on it to "guard" the card! These kinders were very engaged in their task!

To highlight the Olympics, I created QR codes that had winter Olympics trivia. I posted them down our main hallway for all to enjoy! It's been fun watching different grade levels out there testing their Olympic trivia knowledge!

Today, was sooo fun! About a month ago, I helped one of our second grade teachers sign up for a Mystery Skype session . . .  a class in Florida. (If you aren't familiar with Mystery Skype . . . it's where 2 classes connect using Skype...the students don't know the location of either class and must ask yes/no questions to determine the location.)
Today was the big meet! Prior to the meeting, I Skyped in with the second graders and quizzed them on their geography skills. I was so impressed! Today, was amazing to watch these 2nd graders dig into the atlas to answer each geography question from the class in Florida.

Stephanie set up the Rules, Roles and Reflections prior to her class Skype meeting.
Her class had so much fun, they are ready to Skype with another class!
If you are interested in doing a mystery Skype with her class, leave me a comment with your name, grade and email! We will contact you and help get it set up!
If you are an upper grade (3-5) class and want to Mystery Skype, I have tons of teachers that would love to connect globally! :) Let's connect!
If you are a Spanish speaking class and would like to Skype, let me know! We are a Spanish Immersion/ Dual language school!

Last item . . . For Random Acts of Kindness Week, my daughter created these to hang around the school. She put 5 down each hallway, some in the teachers' lounge and a few down the main hallway. They were a huge hit. Most were gone by lunch time! (She also wanted me to share that the font used is one she created!)

Happy Thursday!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday and my +1

Monday, we had a "Souper" good time sharing soup! Teachers brought in various types of soup to share. All was set up in our teacher workroom. Bottom left was mine! Classic tomato soup, but it's all about the toppings! Gold fish, croutons and popcorn! Yum! Big thanks to our social committee for organizing this yummy event!

We had our big . . . Papa John's Pizza Teacher Delivery night! Yes, teachers deliver pizzas to the families in our community! Parents drive . . . we deliver!
Miss Slice, (my daughter) made a guest appearance on our morning school news station to encourage families to order pizza! It is a wonderful evening where our school gets a percentage of the pizza sales and the school keep 100% of the tips earned!

I got to spend some time with the secondary teachers (the are a hoot!) during one of their technology facilitator meetings. As Instructional Tech Specialists, we shared a few resources during this meeting. I've posted about some of the resources during what we now call . . .
Tech it o New Heights Speed Sharing . . . #1 - #2 and #3.
Love Socrative! A teacher can create quizzes and a student can take it on any device!
We played the Space Race quiz. It was, again, a hoot! Those are some extremely competitive teachers!

Oh, by the way, it's free!!!!!!!!!
Give it a try!

Our outdoor learning environment is coming along. They are just about finished with the learning huts. Most recently, they added the landscape borders and big boulders! Those boulders will be perfect for sitting and writing! They are working on the mountainous area. Weather permitting, the landscaping should be finished in 2 weeks!
What you see below is going to be the desert area.  I can't wait!

I'm adding this to my mentor text collection! Sunday, I linked up with Collaboration Cuties for their mentor text linky! You really need to check out their linky. There are soooo many great mentor texts with some great lessons to integrate in your curriculum!
The subject area was social studies. In my post, I shared a great book about President's Day, but this one needs to be included! It is so stinkin' cute! (Cute is for you Stephanie!)

My +1!
Dinner last night! With the purchase of fajitas from our local grocery store, the hubby got Italian sausage, salsa, Doritos, and Big Red for free! (Thank goodness we have several teenagers staying with us this weekend, Big Red and Doritos . . perfect!)

Dinner Thursday night, grilled Italian sausage, sauce, grilled green peppers, and onions on an open faced sandwich! Yummy!

Happy Friday!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

What Presidents are Made Of! Great Mentor Text

Presidents' Day is coming up on February 17th. This is suppose to be a teacher professional learning day for our district, but might turn into our icy make up day. Thursday evening, our temperature dropped to below freezing with precipitation in the air . . . result . . . thin layer of ice coating the city . . .  shutting the city of San Antonio down.  No school! Those of you up north, don't laugh too hard.

It was fun having an icy day. Icicles dangling from the roof and car . . .  leaves with a thin layer of ice that would just slide right off into your hand, the exact shape of the leaf  - You would walk outside and it was just . . . quiet. Pretty much all melted by mid afternoon! Nonetheless, a great ice day!

So, all that brings me to . . .  the mentor text I share today . . . 
What Presidents are Made Of, is an fun book filled with illustrations that are actually collages that depict a president. The collage of each president is created with items that give the reader clues about what that particular president enjoyed doing in their every day life. 
Each president is represented by a word or a phrase that describes their character. The collage is accompanied by a short paragraph that describes an event or trait of the president. This book is perfect for lessons on character traits, paragraph structure and main idea with supporting details. Throw in a bit of comparing and contrasting of the presidents . . . too fun!
I love checking out all the other posts linked up on Amanda & Stacia's, Collaboration Cuties mentor text linky. I've mentioned it before, but social studies is where I struggle the most in making it engaging, so having a place to check out other great ideas is so nice!

I found this website, President for a Day! It is created by PBS from the Democracy Project. Students have the opportunity to role play a virtual day of a president.

Students fill out an application (remember, no last names!) that leads them through a series of questions based on their interests. Once, they have answered a question, they are given a bit of information that matches a president.

 There was a nice surprise at the end. A news article popped up about my first day as president! You can have students take a screen shot and print! All of these printed would make a cute bulletin board.

Here is a fun free app for recognizing the presidents. It is basic and simple, but fun. I enjoyed trying to recognize the presidents.

If you have a Brainpop account, there are many short videos on US presidents. It's a great way to highlight a president each day . . .  leading up to Presidents' Day.

Well, it will be a high of 77 degrees today . . . only in Texas! I think I'll open some windows and enjoy the beautiful weather. It's almost like the ice day was just a dream. :)

Head over to Collaboration Cuties for some other great social studies mentor texts!
Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Padlet, QR Codes, Amusement Parks and Weather

I love when I can sit down with a teacher and within a few minutes we have created an engaging lesson that students are going to love!

She brought the standards and I brought the technology. The standard was . . . identify the importance of weather and seasonal information to make choices in clothing, activities, and transportation;

A great way to start a weather unit (or any unit for that matter) is to use Padlet  - formerly known as Wallwishers. Create a wall where students can post questions that they have about weather. It's as simple as having your students double click on the wall and post their question.

Once, students have posted their questions share, Why does Lightening Strike? with your students.
It is such a cute book about questions students ask about weather.

Simple text and great pictures.

 Add in another book, World Book Encyclopedia's, Weather.

We took a lesson from StemScopes and tweaked it a bit . . . ok, a bunch. The task was to have each student travel to various amusement parks around the world, investigate the temperature and determine what clothing to pack. Students used a QR Code to take them to the weather for that day for each location. The weather for that day helped them determine what items to pack in their suitcase. 

As each student traveled from station to station, they took their file folder with them to record their findings. The file folder contained a map of the world with each amusement park location, one suitcase per location full of clothing (they circled the appropriate clothing), a box to write the temperature, and finally a writing prompt asking which location they would choose for their next holiday and why. Students traveled to Hong Kong, California, Florida, Paris . . . 

I love that a map of the amusement park was added to each station. It was fun to listen to students compare what was at each amusement park.

These second graders tweeted about their experience! Check it out and follow this awesome 2nd grade classroom, @learninginTX!

Head over to Collaboration Cuties for some other science mentor texts!

Happy Sunday!