Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fostering a Community-Back to School Mentor Texts

Back to school mentor texts, how fun is this? glad that Stacia posted several! 
There was no way I was going to be able to post about just one.
Here is my first week of school!

I start the school year by reading the book, The Crayon Box That Talked. The book is about the importance of everyone’s different talents and how we are each unique and creative, but when we work together, the end result is a spectacular picture. 
We each use our new box of crayons and, together, create a class mural. Somewhere on that mural, each student writes how they are unique. Those waxy rainbows come together to create a fanciful picture, bringing us together as 25 creative members of our own unique crayon box. This is just the beginning of building a class community.

This book is adorable! It is about a principal that is so very proud of his school that he thinks that school needs to be on Saturday and Sunday and holidays because it is such a Fine, Fine School! I love reading it because it is one of those books where the students start to chime in to help you finish the line!
After I read this book, I have my student brainstorm a Fine, Fine Classroom! What does it look like, sound like, and feel like? 

In a fun and kid friendly way, David Catrow, writes about the Preamble to the Constitution. You have seen several teachers write their own "Class Constitution" and then have all the kids sign it, I on the other hand, have switched to writing our "Classroom Norms." These are based off of what a fine, fine classroom looks like, sounds like and feels like. I write it on a big piece of paper and we post it in our class. (I'm heading to class today so I'll try to take a pic of it.) I refer to it when I feel a student might need a reminder about what we decided makes a fine, fine classroom!

My Teacher's Secret Life is part of creating the class community and getting to know each other. After I read this book. I read them, The Not So Secret Life of Mrs. Dolat! I create my book using the website, Stapleless Book, by Read-Write-Think! 

The site has a well planned lesson, "Getting-Acquainted Activity Using My Teacher’s Secret Life." Students use a planning sheet to write a glimpse into their life beyond school. Once, each student has typed in their information and printed, they can draw pictures to go with each page. Then, we put them in a special place where everyone can read about the...not so secret life of each person in our class.

You know you have them...the kids that race to be first...first in line, first to raise their hand, first to turn  in their work, first to blurt out the answer...and the list goes on! 
This hysterical book allows you to bring out your best witchy voice as you read, "Who wants a sandwich?"and watch Pinkerton Pig race to be the first one to get a sandwich...only it's a sand witch! Let's just say...Pinkerton learns a lesson! Love this book! 
This flows into a reminder about...if you happen to be first to finish your work, be sure to follow the directions on this sign! matter when you sure to follow the directions on the sign!

I could go on and on with the number of books that I use the first few weeks of school...but I will stop at this point and wait until the next mentor text linky!

I've probably heard it enough...If you haven't, please click on the link to follow me on Bloglovin'!

Join Collaboration Cuties for this fabulous linky. I can't wait to see what other books are used for back to school.

Have a wonderful Sunday! I'm off to school to do some more packing. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Currently --- July

What?! Say it isn't so! It can't be July!

Today, my husband, daughter and my niece went to my classroom today. I started to clean out 21 years of teacher collection...flashlights and mirrors for light investigations, 8 tubs of books (that was just chapter books)-haven't started on the picture books, dominoes, iron fillings/magnets, magnetic words in cute flower pots, borders, posters...I had to stop at that point as I started to freak out! Where do all of these wonderful teaching tools go?

So... where did I go? In our pool!!!!! (After, I got more tubs at Walmart)
Hence, why I'm listening to the water features in our pool!

Loving: I am super excited about my new position as a new instructional technology specialist!

Thinking: Stuff and more stuff! Where does it go? What if I need it?

Wanting: Love the teachers/friends I work with! Several have offered to help make it magically pack!

Wanting: If you've been following my blog, you will know that there have been many amazing things that have happened this year! I am truly blessed!

Tips, Trick or Hints: Here is the long part! I have written about 30 essays this year for various reasons. This was actually one of last essays I wrote about 3 weeks ago...all about...

Our superintendent, Dr. Brown, often shares an old Irish legend, Sharpen the Saw, that is also included in Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person. This legend describes two lumberjacks in a competition to cut down the most trees. The first lumberjack, strong, is slated to win.  The day of the competition, he sawed forcefully and without stopping knowing that every tree chopped down brought him closer to his title. The other lumberjack, unlike his larger competitor, stopped every hour to sharpen his blade. He knew all along that in order to win especially against a larger competitor, his tool had to be continually sharpened.  His axe was smaller and therefore each swing had to be more accurate in order to produce the better product. By stopping to sharpen his instrument, he had proven, once and for all, that he was the better man for the job. 

In order for educators to “sharpen their tools” they need to occasionally disconnect from school, the computer and develop honest collaborative peer relationships and strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  

I am thankful for the connections I have made through blogging and the groups that I interact with on a daily basis, but know that it is ok to step away from the electronic devise and just be!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five for Friday!

 Five for Friday! Whoop! Whoop!
It's funny... I would always look forward to Friday during the school year, but now it means another week of summer gone by....aww man! That's ok! 

Here are some of my pics for the week!

Love me some Moby!

I was so fortunate to be part of another blogger meet-up! 
These are some awesome bloggers! I loved being able to chit chat with them!

Left to Right (bottom picture)
Ashley Cross from Teaching Happily Ever After (her mom peeking out from behind her)
Rachel Friedrich from Sub Hub and Learning to Teach in the Rain
Angela Watson from The Cornerstone for Teachers
Denise Boehm from Sunny Days in Second Grade
Suzanne Kenoyer from Krazy Town
Reagan Tunstall from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits
Daliene Hendon...she's working on her blog! I know it's going to be great as she takes on first graders!
Then, there is me! 
Many came for ISTE...some just live in good 'ol SA!

 Can you say super cute and yum?! My daughter took a "Frosting Fun" class this week. I'm waiting to see her cake! I'll post it on Instagram!

I finally cleaned up my craft closet! I was waaaaaaaay to embarrassed to show you the before picture!

I am super excited! This is a new adventure that I'm so ready for! Here is my office! This area is getting a make over! Not that I'm really going to be in this space, but it's gotta be cute!

What does that mean for this blog? Honestly, I don''t know! I'll keep posting, that's for sure!

I will tell you, I'm in the works for a techie kind of blog...

Head over and check out the other pics of the pic by some really fabulous bloggers.

But, first...if you aren't following me on Bloglovin', please click on the link at the top - right side of my page. Thanks!

Happy Friday! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tune into Technology Linky

 This has been one fun week of learning! San Antonio hosted the ISTE conference!
20,000 people attending a conference...all talking technology! I'm still in the process of sorting, reflecting and organizing all the new information I learned!
For now, I'm linking up  I Teach 1:1 and Learning to the Core for this linky!
Super fun! 
This week the topic is reading...
I'm putting a  bit of a twist on it. 
Once you write it, you can share it with students to read!

I remember reading them as a child. If you want to ride the rapids, turn to page 15. If you want to go back the other direction turn to page 6. Decisions! Decisions!

I did this with my students using Powerpoint. They started with a HUGE piece of butcher paper to plot out their story. I had them color code it so that it was easier to follow the plot. (I wish I had a pic of this.) It can get pretty confusing!
Once they were ready to start their slides, I showed them how to hyperlink the slides together. My students did a great job! Here are a few slides from one of the stories. Once a story was ready to share, students used "clickers" to send in their choice. The choice with the most votes would be the direction the story would take!

Today, I present to you...Inklewriter!

Inklewriter - Is free, web based, and did I mention FREE!
This digital tool allows students to create their own interactive book-choose your own adventure!

 The Ed Tech Pirates used this to guide their ISTE session on The Digital Natives are Restless: Web Tools that Captivate Students.
We, the participants, got to choose the path of the session by texting in our choice. So fun! Such a great idea for PD!
Check out their site for tons more ideas! Also, I'll be posting more about some of the great things I learned in their session!

You will need to create a teacher account. Students will need their own login which requires an email for each student. Inklewriter will help you create an email account for your students. (It's just a formality.)
It is very simple to follow! I would definitely have your students pre-write before getting started.

For a $10 fee, it can be converted into an e-book for Kindle.

Here is a fun PBS website that gives students a chance to see the format for a "Choose your Own Adventure" story. Click on the picture to take you to the site.


I love this site because students can read about the tales from other countries.
In the past, I have created a Google doc for them to work on collaboratively. 

Here are a few screenshots.

Giggle Poetry is such a great site for students to explore. There is a section where students read and rate poems. They can see how their rating compares to the majority of kids. 

I can't wait to check out all the great sites available. 
Ready to add them to my massively growing list of resources!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blogger Meet Up, Gaming in the Classroom & SS Mentor Text Linky

Busy weekend! Saturday was so much fun!
I ventured up to Austin for a Blogger Meet Up! Ari picked a great location to meet! Hula Hut! I was thrilled to meet some really great bloggers!

Ari over at The Science Penguin
Kristen over at A Day in First Grade
April over at A Modern Teacher (I actually have her teacher organizer on my wishlist! Didn't even realize!)
Alyssa over at Fourth Grade Racers

Today, I started organizing! Laundry room first, moved on to the back desk area and finally my craft closet! Soooo... not done in the craft closet!

Then, I ventured to downtown San Antonio to see Jane McGonigal, one of the keynote speakers for the ISTE conference! Holy mega number of people!  20,000 signed up to attend! 6,000 in Hall A to see Dr. Jane who happens to have a Ph D in gaming research! (That's probably not the official Ph D name.)
She has a really good TED Talk video. You should watch it!

Her talk this evening...
Here is my huge take away from her talk...ok, really it's one of many...
Gamers encounter 80% failure, but still play! 80%?!!! 
They are always on the verge of an epic win!
How do we harness that perseverance in the classroom?

Super excited...Dave Burgess is tweeting about ISTE!
Think I might have to go check this out!

Which leads me to the social studies mentor text linky by the Collaboration Cuties!
Dave Burgess, author of,  Teach Like a Pirate, said it is ok to not be passionate about every subject. Social studies is the subject for me. I think this past year was a good year for me with teaching social studies, but it definitely needed work! This summer I have challenged myself! Beef up my social studies!
I always like a challenge! This linky will definitely help!

The text I'm sharing is Civil War by Peter Chrisp.

"This book brings the story of this dramatic episode in American history to life for children. Using dynamic artwork, graphics, and clear, engaging text, each spread is packed with facts and feature panels. The American Civil War explores the big issues of the conflict and how it unfolded, but also details the day-to-day life of soldiers from both sides and of how the war affected families back home." Scholastic

This book is perfect for cause and effect as well as compare and contrast! 

What I love about this book is that it doesn't read like a typical history book. It has great graphics and captions that will grab a student's attention. I think I'm going to order a few more for partner reading!

If you haven't already, please click on the Bloglovin' link on the right, to follow me. Thanks!

Also, follow me on Twitter and Instagram! I'll be posting about my adventures at ISTE! 
Will I find Dave Burgess? 
Will I get a seat at Tammy Worcester's session? 
What cool new techie things will I learn? 
Follow me to find out!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My Teacher Always Says...Linky

Tammy over at Forever in First has a really cute linky...
At first, I wasn't sure I really had things that I say on a regular basis.

After 21 years...I guess I do!

I say the first part and my students respond with the last word.
Sometimes I say this when a person needs a partner or a group.

Instead of saying this is hard...I ask my students to say that a task is challenging not hard.

When I ask a question, sometimes I will ask this after a student has answered.
I love the look on their face. Confusion, doubt...
Then I tell them to be confident in their answers.

Phrases when providing feedback to peers.

We don't say the "h" word (hate) we say we dislike something. 

I talk to my students about being proactive by asking questions, asking for clarification or just let me know they don't understand something that I've said or a word that I have used.

The one that my husband completed after a year of marriage...
"I're disappointed in my behavior." Uhhh, learned my lesson!

 Head over to Tammy's blog to check out other phrases teachers use!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dogzilla and Kat Kong - Mentor Text Linky

The Collaboration Cuties have a great linky about mentor text ideas and lessons! What a great linky! I have gotten so many wonderful ideas.

Today, I'm sharing....Dogzilla and Kat Kong by Dav Pilkey. 

I love starting the year with this writing activity. It goes right along with reviewing the scientific process/method. We review the vocabulary using a scientific method flip book I created. Students must incorporate the vocabulary in the writing.

Mousopolis is having the very First Annual Barbecue Cook-Off. Dogzilla is awakened by the yummy aroma of barbecue sauce!  As Dogzilla's horrible doggy breath fills the streets, 
the residents of Mousopolis must run for their lives. 
Can they get rid of that big stinky dog before it's too late?

The website, The Writing Fix, has the entire lesson.

  • Lesson  and 6 Traits Overview
  • Student Instructions
  • Teacher Instructions and Lesson Resources
  • Student writing samples

There is even an interactive part for students that might need some ideas!

Over at TpT store is the scientific method flip book I created. I have my students work in pairs to complete the flip book.  Then, they paste it in their science notebook.

Head over to discover many other "Must Read" mentor texts and 
how teachers are using them in their classroom!